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July 16, 2014

Volume 17 Issue 52

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Group III from Puralube?

Puralube is considering upgrading its rerefinery operations in Germany to produce rerefined API Group III base oil, and it named a former Safety-Kleen executive as president of its newly formed U.S. subsidiary.

Last year, Puralube said it was investing €40 million to build a third rerefinery at its Zeitz Chemical and Industrial Park in Troeglitz, Germany, which would bring its Group II+ base oil capacity to about 150,000 metric tons in late 2014. Its two existing rerefineries at Troeglitz each have 50,000 mt/y Group II+ base oil production capacity.

Christian Hartmann, a managing director with Puralube, said the project has been on hold – although permits and financing are ready – as the company watches profit margins in the rerefining industry. “We are looking at our position – should we do an expansion just within Group II, or should we upgrade our rerefinery to Group III? We will announce this within the next two months, within this year at the latest,” Hartmann told Lube Report. “We are more likely to upgrade to Group III.” Such an upgrade in Germany would allow Puralube the flexibility to produce Group II or III on demand, he said.

He noted that Puralube wants to diversify its market and secure its margins. “We see a good chance there,” with rerefined Group III base oil production, Hartmann said. “Of course we would be pioneers in the Group III within this market. Our customer base is ready to honor that.”

He acknowledged the technical challenge in producing Group III rerefined base oil. “We have been successful in tests at pilot plants, and we are backed by UOP – the largest engineering and licensing firm in this field in hydroprocessing and hydrotreatment – so we feel quite comfortable in conjunction with them that it will work.”

The company on July 10 said it appointed Mike Ebert as president of its newly formed Puralube USA Inc.

Ebert is the former vice president of oil engineering and business development of Safety-Kleen Systems Inc., which was acquired by Clean Harbors in December 2012. “Mike’s knowledge and success in the leadership of the U.S. used oil rerefining market will be a big asset for Puralube’s intention to expand in North America,” Puralube Inc. CEO Andreas Schueppel said in a news release. Puralube is headquartered in Wayne, Pa., with operations in Germany and the United Kingdom.

Over the last several years, Puralube has looked at many different sites in the United States for building a new rerefinery but it’s “too early to confirm something today,” Hartmann said Monday. He emphasized the company has a clear plan to launch a rerefinery in the U.S. “We had some setbacks already, but we are now moving forward, and we still think we have an opportunity.”