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February 8, 2006

New warning on marine lubricants

TOTAL Lubmarine says the critical supply situation in the international marine lube oils market remains a cause for concern, with prices set to rise still further this year.

Andrew Knox, Head of Marketing at TOTAL Lubmarine, says, "2005 was a very stormy year and, although this year has started calmer, the forecast is not good. Additives remain in short supply, as do base oils--particularly the heavy Group 1 grades used in the marine industries. Asian Bright Stock, for example, is already proving very difficult to find."

Knox says that marine base oils (Heavy Group 1 grades) will become increasingly difficult to source with older base oil refineries closing as the industry restructures to produce the sophisticated base stocks required for today's automotive applications.

"Additive prices increased at the start of this year," says Knox, "and will rise still further within the next few weeks. The same is true of base oil prices, which have already risen beyond the November 2005 levels and are likely to go up again in the near future. It is inevitable that the price of marine lubricants will rise in the short term to recover these increases and to balance the delayed impact of last year's substantial hikes in base oil and additive prices."

"Supply remains a real concern for both the short and medium term," warns Knox. "With prices likely to continue rising this year, owners would be well-advised to look at ways of minimizing lube consumption, and not to buy on price alone at the expense of quality and delivery performance."