Group II The role of

Base Stocks in Europe

At the 21st ICIS World Base Oils and Lubricants Conference in London this past February, Ted Walko, Global Basestocks and Specialties Marketing Manager, ExxonMobil, delivered a presentation titled “The Role of Group II in Europe.” While on stage, Ted shared ExxonMobil’s three, core beliefs about Group II in Europe: one, lubricant manufacturers will benefit from local Group II supply; two, Group II is well-designed to meet the latest/upcoming performance specifications; and, three, now is the time to begin planning a transition to Group II. A summary of Ted’s presentation follows.

The rise of Group II is largely driven by the advancement of engine and higher-end industrial oil performance needs. Because a base stock is the largest part of a finished lubricant’s formulation, it has a significant impact on the lubricant’s physical properties, performance and overall cost.

Often referred to as the industry’s “work horse,” Group II meets a wide range of applications and it’s cost-advantaged to manufacture – because of this, finished lubricant manufacturers are increasingly demanding Group II base stocks.

While the industry has seen an overall shift to Group II base stocks, its penetration has regionally varied – North America led the charge, while Europe was slower to adopt. In the past, European base stock needs were largely met by Group I and Group III products. Unlike North America and Asia-Pacific, Europe has lacked affordable and reliable Group II supply, making it costly to market these base stocks due to a heavy reliance on imports from areas like the Gulf Coast.

Today, base stock demand in Europe is changing due to OEM production plans, car population turnover and shifting consumer buying behaviours. By 2030, ExxonMobil projects that more than 50 percent of Europe’s overall base stock demand will be for Group II products1


Over the next fifteen years, projections show that base stock growth will slow down in Europe and North America (roughly, growth will be only one percent per year globally). Given this, there is intensified pressure to deliver a cost-effective, high-performance

54 LUBE MAGAZINE NO.141 OCTOBER 2017 Ted Walko

product. Because Group II is produced by hydrocracking and catalytic dewaxing technology, these base stocks require less additive treatments, which can enable cost savings.

Due to all of these factors, ExxonMobil noted the opportunity to invest in Europe to help meet growing market demand. In 2015, the Basestocks team announced the plan for a new hydrocracker unit at ExxonMobil’s Rotterdam, Netherlands, refinery. The hydrocracker will produce EHCTM Group II base stocks and ultra-low sulphur diesel and is on track and on time for production to begin in late 2018.

While Europe will greatly benefit from the local Group II supply through ExxonMobil’s Rotterdam refinery, the company believes that there are advantages for the entire global market. When Rotterdam is up and running, ExxonMobil is confident it will be the only global producer with significant manufacturing assets strategically located in three continents, that are committed to producing Group I and Group II base stocks. With ExxonMobil’s global EHC Group II slate available on three continents, ExxonMobil believes that local blenders will no longer need to recertify their products in each region, reducing complexities and saving time and money.

Group II is uniquely diverse in the number of applications it can serve and this will only continue to expand with time. Whether it’s for commercial, industrial or automobile applications, Group II offers enhanced oxidative stability, reduced volatility, and superior low-temperature performance, helping lubricants meet the most rigorous technical requirements.

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