Naphthenic base oil demand surges ahead of 2010 Europe rule

04 December 2009 15:56  [Source: ICIS news]

NEW YORK (ICIS news)--Demand for heavy naphthenic base stocks has escalated worldwide as tyre makers seek to replace their formulations before a 2010 European directive, the vice president of base oils technology for Ergon said on Friday.

“Naphthenic base oils have been used in tyres for years, but never to the extent they will be used going forward,” Jimmy Rasco told the ICIS Pan-American Base Oils & Lubricants Conference in New York.

Rasco said the upturn was a result of a European directive which will ban all tyres containing high aromatic oils on Europe’s roads beginning in 2010.

Every tyre produced or distributed in the region will have to be free of conventional distillate aromatic extracts (DAE) extender oils, which consists of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Eight PAH substances have been identified as mutagenic, carcinogenic and toxic to reproduction.

The guidelines are not limited to Europe.

“Tyre manufacturers are focused on a universal changeover by using the same materials in all regions,” Rasco said.

Oils found as suitable DAE replacements in tyres include mildly extracted solvate (MES), treated distillate aromatic extract (TDAE), residual aromatic extract (RAE), treated residual aromatic extract (TRAE) and heavy naphthenics.

“But MES, TDAE, RAE and TRAE are not produced in sufficient quantity to support the volumes needed to replace DAE,” Rasco said. “The health issues of these oils have also been scrutinised.”

Rasco said there are no supply issues sourcing enough naphthenic base oil due to expansions over the last couple of years.

Ergon expanded its Vicksburg naphthenic base oil refinery in Mississippi to 19,000 bbl/day in September, adding 9,000 bbl/day overall capacity. Nynas has said it would double its 7,800 bbl/day Nynashamn base oil refinery in Sweden.

It is unclear the volume of DAE being replaced in tyres, but Rasco said estimates are around 1.7m bbl in Europe and 1.9m bbl in the US.

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By: Heather McGuire Doyle
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