LONDON (ICIS)--Group I base oils are not about to disappear from the market, a panel of industry experts said in a debate on Friday.
Despite recent capacity rationalisation, the future for Group I in applications other than engine oil is still sound, said Tim Nadasdi, basestocks product development advisor at ExxonMobil.
Group I now constitutes 35% of the base oils market. It will probably level off at around 30% of the market, he added.
There had been similar predictions for the fate of naphthenics, but they were still going strong, added Joe Rousmaniere, director of business development for US-headquartered Chemlube International.
“Around 80% of Group I goes into other applications so we don’t need them to go into engine oil applications for them to be viable,” said Nadasdi.
“You’ve got to look at the whole package at the refinery. If you can optimise their value by producing the products the market wants, Group I has a role,” he added.
There is a question over whether consumers have the flexibility to switch from one product to another, away from Group I, said Szabolcs Vida, managing director at central European lubricant maker, MOL-LUB.
“It’s best for producers to keep their flexibility,” he added.
Far from being close to death, the demand for Group I was such that Calumet had converted one production unit into producing Group I just one year ago, said Rousmaniere.
“Group I demand in some key regions is still growing. Eastern Europe is taking more. Africa is taking a lot and growing,” said Vicky Ellis, senior editor manager at ICIS.
The 24th ICIS World Base Oils and Lubricants Conference runs on 19-21 February in London.