Group I, II and II+ base stocks to remain prominent in N America

29 November 2012 21:19  [Source: ICIS news]

NEW YORK (ICIS)--North American base oil capacity has shifted dramatically over the last 14 years with the transition from Group I to Group II base oils, but less change is expected in the Americas region over the next 10 years, a researcher said on Thursday.

“Most new capacity coming on line globally will be Group III base oil production, as it is more efficient to operate and Group III expansions will take place in Asia. No Group III expansions are expected in the US at this time," Doug Irvine, a research associate at Petro-Canada Lubricants said while speaking at the 8th annual ICIS Pan American Base Oils and Lubricants Conference.

In 1998, there were 36 plants producing 264,500 bbl/day of base oils in North America. Group I production represented 56% of total capacity and Group II production represented 21% of production.

In 2012, there are 28 base oil plants in North America producing 255, 700 bbl/day and Group I represents just 28% of total supply, while Group II base oil production represents 47% of total supply.

Group I and II, II+ base stocks will still be around for the foreseeable future, Irvine said.

There have been many Group I base oil closures in North America and Europe, and that has created opportunity for the Group II supply. Some end users can’t use Group III base oils for their needs because of viscosity limitations, but Group II base oils will often work for the same purpose the Group I base oil worked.

Group I is still the top choice for many industrial lubricant uses and produces specialty products that other base oil Group do not produce including bright stock and paraffin wax. It has niche applications in the process oil and diluent sector, but its future in engine oils is questionable, Irvine said.

Group II is also used in industrial lubricants and commercial engine oils.

Group II+ and Group III base oils have lower viscosity and are better suited for automotive applications, transmission fluids and gear oils.

The major focus for finished lubricant demand is on the automotive market where engine oil represents 43% of total lubricant demand, Barrow said.

The global light duty fleet will double by 2030, but most of that growth will come from the developing economies of the world.

The conference ends on Friday.

By: Heather McGuire Doyle
+1 713 525 2653

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