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Worldwide Refinery Processing Review (Individual Technology)

LUBE OIL PRODUCTION
Publication date:2Q 2016
Item#: B1018

Lube Oil Production

Lube Oil Production

Two general methods for producing base oils are solvent- and hydroprocessing (hydrocatalytic)-based processes. Hydroprocessed (hydrocatalytic) base oil production essentially has taken over the industry over the past decade. Increased demand for higher quality product with fewer impurities was the main driver for this shift. In addition, it is possible to integrate hydroprocessing equipment, such as a hydrocracker or hydrofinisher, into a solvent-based configuration to yield premium quality base oils (hybrid configuration). These oils contain lower sulfur and have a higher viscosity index than the same solvent refined base oil without the added hydroprocessing would have contained.

Around the globe, an overwhelming trend to supply cleaner, high-quality products dominates the refining industry. The problem of greenhouse gas emissions has continued to gather attention in both political and social arenas, resulting in considerable pressure to use oil products as efficiently as possible. Although lubricant oils are not combusted, and therefore are not a direct source of harmful emissions, lubes still have a significant carbon footprint through production and use. This is mainly because the final lube products are most often used in either cars or industrial machinery, and each is a significant source of CO2, SOX, NOX, particulate matter (PM), and other harmful emissions. High-quality lubricants will improve fuel efficiency in automobiles, ultimately reducing hydrocarbon fuel demand.

These increasingly stringent automobile efficiency requirements are pushing manufacturers to seek ever better automotive lubricants, and lubricant producers are responding by rapidly building out capacity in Group II and III base production, and at the same time reducing Group I production capacity. The shift to high-quality Group II and Group III base oils has also led to almost all new lubes production capacity being added being hydroprocessing-based, with solvent-based technologies being phased out unless in a so-called hybrid configuration with hydroprocessing capacity.

Additionally, the lubes production section features the latest trends and technology offerings, including:

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Keywords: lubes, lube oil, base oil, base oils, base stock, base stocks, polyalphaolefins, PAOs, Group I, Group II, Group III, Group IV, Group V, Group VI, hydroprocessing, solvent, polymerization, bright stock, viscosity index, VI, pour point, synthetic lube, Fischer-Tropsch, F-T, gas-to-liquids, GTL, bio-lubricants