For all of the hullabaloo about electric vehicles, the internal combustion engine – as well as the engine oils that they use – are not going anywhere anytime soon. Likewise, engine oils will continue to face requirements for innovation due to emerging technologies such as start-stop engines, other types of hybrids and increased power density of ICEs, according to an industry insider.
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Boris Kamchev is a staff writer and Russia-based East European correspondent for LNG.
Prior to joining LNG, Boris was a Russia-based reporter for several Macedonian weekly magazines and newspapers.He had a 16-month stint as a business reporter for The St. Petersburg Times, a St. Petersburg, Russia-based English language newspaper. He also contributed analyses to Russia Profile, an English-language web-news service of RIA Novosti news agency.
Proficient in English, Russian, Macedonian and several other languages, he was a Fulbright visiting scholar at the University of Missouri's School of Journalism and holds a BA degree from his native Macedonia.
Although internal combustion engines are expected to remain dominant in Russia – where a preference for larger cars and lack of government subsidies hinder the growth of electric vehicles and hybrids – the country’s lubricant manufacturers seek opportunities abroad as they assess the shift towards EVs and hybrids elsewhere, industry insiders said.
The Middle East has become a prominent producer and net exporter of API Group II and Group III base oil, using its glut of over 2 million tons of material to cater to demand in India, North America and Western Europe, an industry insider said at a conference in Moscow.
The push for reduced emissions and increased fuel efficiency makes formulating lubes challenging. Pour point depressants play an increasingly important part in achieving successful results.
Motor oil demand in Belarus reached 32,000 metric tons in 2017, showing signs of stagnation after a peak in demand caused by the influx of imported cars in 2014 and 2015, a market study found. Development of Belarus’ vehicle fleet depends on its political relations with Russia, the report noted.
Russian aftermarket motor oil consumption – the volume of engine oils used in passenger vehicles post-sale – amounted to 161 million liters during the July 2017 to July 2018 period, up 5.2 percent from the same period a year earlier, due to growth in miles driven, according to global consultancy Gipa.
Russia’s economy is forecast to continue slowly growing, and that should be enough to spur motor oil demand to increase at a compound annual rate of 1.6 percent through 2023, according to a market research firm.
Russia generates approximately 1.2 million metric tons of waste lubricants annually, but only a fraction is recycled, so a Russian association is encouraging more of the practice.
Total unveiled its new lubricants blending plant in Kaluga, Russia, Monday, saying it will reduce reliance on imports and cut delivery times both domestically and in neighboring markets such as Belarus and Central Asian countries.
Economic problems in Russia helped halt the rising penetration of synthetic engine oils in the country, an industry insider told a conference in Moscow last week.
Joint venture Azmol-British Petrochemicals ramped up its production this year, with European automakers recommending its lubricants for their vehicles, and entered new markets for the first time since restarting operations in 2017, the company said.
Gazprom Neft’s lubricant blending plant in Omsk, Russia, introduced a packaging line that increases filling capacity and boosts production efficiency, the company said last week.
As Moscow faces new constraints on its hydrocarbons industry, the country’s lubricants business could also be damaged. To what extent is up for debate.
Some small-volume chemicals—like lube additives—may have slipped through the cracks of REACH registration in the EU, creating potential supply chain disruptions.
Devaluation of the Russian ruble has helped boost base oil and finished lubricant exports from the country and is also helping shield against imports of the same products, according to industry insiders.