February 28, 2017
Volume 7 Issue 4
South Korean Exports Increase
South Korea’s exports of base oils and lubricants continued increasing in 2016, with China the biggest importer of its cargo.
According to Korea Customs Service data, the country’s exports of base oils and lubricants reached 4.95 million tons in 2016, at a value of U.S. $3.25 billion. Export volume was up 4 percent from the previous year, but revenue from exports dropped 5.9 percent due to declines in base oil prices during 2016 following drops in crude prices.
Base oil exports accounted for 84 percent of the volume, at 4.1 million tons – up 3.8 percent from a year ago. That’s an increase of around 1 million tons, or nearly 35 percent, over 2013 figures.
Exports of finished lubricants increased 5.4 percent from 2015, to nearly 791,000 tons. Automotive engine oils, automatic transmission fluids and marine engine oils accounted for the largest shares of finished lube exports.
As for export destinations, China has been South Korea’s top importing country since 2014. Last year, China imported around 1 million tons of base stocks from Korea, which has annual capacity of around 8 million tons. The country’s base oil exports to China have nearly doubled since 2013.
China also bought around 38,600 tons of automotive engine oils and 18,600 tons of automatic transmission fluids from Korea.
Korea’s second-largest base oil and lubricant importer, India, brought in approximately 878,000 tons of base oils, 2,800 tons of automotive engine oils, and 2,300 tons of process oils from Korea in 2016. The third-most prominent recipient of Korean exports was the United States, which bought about 621,000 tons of base oils and 182 tons of cleansing oils.
South Korean lubricants supplier SK Lubricants, which is the world’s third-largest base oil manufacturer, said in regulatory filing last November that SBC and BP Castrol are its major customers, taking 11.37 percent and 9.71 percent of its sales, respectively.
Another leading South Korean lubricants manufacturer, GS Caltex, disclosed in a report last year that the company’s base oil export price had dropped 5.3 percent to 584 Korean won per liter in 2016 and nearly 40 percent from 2013.