Shell, Exxon, Idemitsu and Evonic all reveal expansion

Shell expands research in India, while Evonik, ExxonMobil and Idemitsu all increase capacity.

Europe-based Royal Dutch Shell revealed plans to expand its R&D presence in India as it opened its first Indian lubricants laboratory in Bengaluru in the south of the country. Managed by Shell India, the lab will focus on advanced lubricant development in conjunction with Indian-based and global OEMs. 

The oil major is keen to tap into the worlds third largest lubricants market and the lab, which will be staffed by 15 specialist technicians, is likely to be the first in a number of expansion projects.  According to a Shell India source quoted in India's Business Standard: " "The laboratory comes as a solutions provider to the rising demand for innovative lubricants following the rapid upgrade of technology in the industrial and automotive sectors".

Meeting demand for high performance lubricants was key to the completion of ExxonMobil's Singapore refinery expansion. Started in 2017, the expansion project took one million workforce hours and as many as 300 workers to complete. The expansion will boost production of Exxon's EHCtm Group II base oil.  The result will not only be increased supply of high quality blending stock for Exxon and its lubes customers (who will start to receive the new stock in Q3 2019), but also enhance the site's earning potential. 

Meanwhile in China, Idemitsu laid the foundations for its second lubricants production plant in the country.  The Japanese lubes producer has set an annual capacity of 120,000kl when the plant comes on stream in 2020. Sited in Huizhou in Guangdong Province, this latest project follows the opening of Idemitsu's Shanghai development centre in October 2018, although its first lubricants plant began operation in China in 2004.     

And finally, additives giant Evonik is also expanding to meet demand with a 15% increase in production of its  Polyalkylmethacrylate (PAMA)-based viscosity modifiers. Rather than focusing on a single plant, the company will look to a range of expansion projects across its sites in Europe, Asia and North America. It will also carry out "debottlenecking operations."  According to Evonik's Senior VP of Oil Additives Business Line, Doris Schmidt: “Increasing our production capacity shows our commitment to providing the lubricants industry with technology that significantly contributes to efficiency gains for our customers serving the automotive and industrial markets." Amongst the additive brands benefitting from the expansion are  DRIVON™, NUFLUX™, DYNAVIS® and VISCOPLEX®.