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November 1, 2017

Volume 17 Issue 52

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New Report Examines EU Lube Demand

The Union of the European Lubricant Industry last week presented its first of what will become annual reports on lubricant demand in the European Union. Officials said it will fill an informational void in Europe and become a valuable resource for the industry in that region.

“Market data are fundamental to a better understanding of industry trends, market dynamics and insight into end user behavior that is key to underpinning business planning decisions,” UEIL President Valentina Serra-Holm said after the conference. “An analysis with this level of granularity coming from the representative body of the European lubricant industry has been missing.”

The report estimates combined finished lube demand in 2016 for 16 EU member countries – Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Luxemburg, Poland, Portugal and Sweden – which together account for an estimated 85 percent of demand across the 28-nation bloc. The report also provided market data for Turkey and Switzerland, which are members of UEIL but not the EU.

Demand in those nations 16 nations rose 0.8 percent in 2016 to 3.83 million metric tons, the report said. Steady economic growth and increasing population and vehicle parcs have helped keep lube demand in those countries relatively flat since recovery from the recession of 2012, the report said, but it noted that demand has fallen 30 percent since 2000 due to shifts to more efficient lubes.

The 30-page report includes synopses providing population and economic data along with trends in lubricant demand for the 18 aforementioned countries. The lubricant data is based partly on sales volumes compiled by many EU countries’ national associations – information that was reported for a number of years by Brussels-based Europalub. Unlike Europalub, UEIL’s new Industry Statistics Committee (UISC) supplemented that data with demographic and economic information, all of which were fed into an algorithm developed in cooperation with a supporting non-profit organization. Officials said UISC made a specific commitment to publish its report within the calendar year following the year covered by the report. Europalub took a year longer to publish its reports.

Apu Gosalia, who heads the committee, said the additional information and algorithm make the committee’s estimates more robust.

“However, like logic, data for me is the beginning of wisdom, not the end,” he said, paraphrasing a quote from Mr. Spock of the Star Trek television series.

Fuchs Petrolub SE, where Gosalia serves as vice president for sustainability and global competitive intelligence, is one of the industry’s most prominent sources of lubricant consumption estimates, regularly presenting its own estimates at industry conferences. Gosalia said there will be a place for both Fuchs and UEIL data, as well as reports provided by consulting firms such as Kline & Co.

“All three will have their valuable individual part in creating intelligence for our industry in the future, and all are separately important because all offer another part of the ‘puzzle,’ and in the end the whole industry will gain,” he said.

For example he noted that Fuchs normally presents its estimates on the global industry, with country and regional breakdowns, within the first two months of each year, offering an early glimpse of the previous year. UEIL will present its statistics for one region – Europe – later in the year, allowing it to incorporate full-year volume data, and its reports will break down demand into smaller product categories than Fuchs does some months before.

The statistics committee will probably work with the national agencies gathering lubricants data to adjust some of their product categories in order to keep current with developments in the industry, Gosalia said. And the committee will also try to encourage some governments to shore up their data collection and reporting.

“Some national agencies offer data each month or year, and these data are also reliable enough that we can just paste them into our statistics,” he said. “Some offer data, but they are not really trustworthy, so here the work of UISC is to examine those data and go back to these countries and try to work with them over time to improve the quality. This is an advantage of UEIL and UISC – being better positioned to talk to those organizations than a single company would be.

“And then we have countries – mostly in Eastern Europe – where there is no data gathering so far, and here again the objective of UISC is to encourage those countries over time to develop their own statistics and report them.”