Feedstock costs, technology to dominate London base oils conference

23 February 2011 16:14  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Base oils and lubricant players will meet at a two-day industry conference in London from Thursday 24 February to look at the major demand and supply trends that are likely to dominate the global market.

Rising feedstock costs against a backdrop of political unrest in the oil-rich Middle East will be a major focus of the 15th ICIS World Base Oils & Lubricants Conference

The emerging Group III capacity in the Middle East and its impact on Group I and II producers will also be discussed at the conference, which is expected to draw more than 500 delegates.

Conference participants will also find out more about the changing technological landscape that is driving the demand for premium base oils.

Industry experts expect global base oils demand to continue to recover from the 2008-2009 recession, underpinned mainly by strong growth in China and India’s lubricant markets, as well as recovering economies in the US and Europe.

However, industry experts have cautioned that the overall growth to 2015 could be limited by machinery and lubricant advancements, as well as emissions legislation.

Demand for Group I base oils will continue to be under threat from higher emissions standards and fuel economy requirements. The shift away from Group I base oils will impact supply as refiners either close down old facilities or upgrade to Group II/III production. Brightstock and paraffin wax supply will be the most adversely affected.

The trend to consolidate Group I base oils production is also likely to be accelerated by new Group III capacity in the Middle East.

Shell’s gas-to-liquids (GTL) facility in Qatar, with an annual capacity of more than 1m tonnes of Group III base oils, is expected to start up this year.

Neste’s joint venture facility with Bahrain Petroleum Co (Bapco), capable of producing at least 400,000 tonnes/year of Group III base oils, will come on stream in the autumn of 2011.

Supply conditions in the US and Asia are expected to be tight in the early part of 2011 as a result of a heavy maintenance shutdown schedule.

A tight market for Group I base oils in Europe at the end of 2010 looks set to continue into early 2011, partly due to strong exports to markets such as Asia and the Middle East.

Rising feedstock costs are also likely to dictate price trends in the base oils market. ExxonMobil’s Todd Onderdonk will discuss the outlook for the energy market at the conference, while Blake Eskew from energy consultancy Purvin & Gertz will examine base oils economics in an environment of rising costs.

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By: Yeow Pei Lin

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