ACC introduces emergency protocol as lubes makers rise to pandemic challenge

The American Chemical Council (ACC) has announced an emergency protocol for lubricants additives as the chemical industry works hard to overcome supply chain issues.

Effective from 20th April 2020 for 120 days, the ACC's Petroleum Additives Panel (PAP) has introduced an emergency protocol, aimed at helping lubricants and other additive-critical fluids producers overcome short-term supply issues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The protocol allows manufacturers to interchange certain additives, including viscosity modifiers and pour point depressants, should supply chain issues arise. However, the organisation set clear guidelines under which the exchanges can be made. These are:  

  • Exchanges must be made only to the extent reasonably necessary for the company to maintain continuity of supply.
  • Exchanges will be limited to well established and proven chemistries which are of similar chemical composition or function, deemed acceptable based on the companies’ technical judgement and already in use for similar applications.
  • The total amount of component exchanges will be limited to the minimum that is strictly necessary to maintain supply and for which there is adequate technical justification and subject to customer agreement.
  • The component exchanges shall be documented and provided to customers or approving bodies. Documentation must include technical support for the interchange and plan/timeline for return to normal operation.
  • Exchanges can only be made during the duration of the Emergency Protocol.

The protocol is the latest in a number of regulatory relaxations which have emerged to help lubes producers at a time when testing backlogs and restricted supply chains are posing a threat to production schedules and volumes. This includes the API's 'provisional' licencing agreement, as reported recently by OATS, for new GF-6 lubricants which have faced delays in 'ROBO' test completion.

ACC members themselves have responded quickly in an aim to boost the supply chain to the healthcare and laboratory sectors, where products such as Personal Protection Equipment, testing chemicals and other vital assets are needed.  Amongst the companies listed on the ACC website's COVID-19 Members response page, the likes of Lubrizol, ExxonMobil, Evonik, Shell and Dow, have all contributed chemicals, medical gases, ventilators and finished plastics for healthcare and hand sanitisation products, as well as donating significant financial sums to NGOs.

BP re-directed sugarcane-derived ethanol from fuel to disinfectant production, while also offereing free fuel to UK emergency service vehicles, including four air ambulances, as well as supporting healthcare workers across Europe and beyond.