Valentina Serra-Holm is the President of UEIL (Union of the European Lubricants Industry) and a Member of the CIS Base Oils and Lubricants Advisory Board
WHAT ARE THE KEY CHALLENGES LUBES PRODUCERS WILL FACE IN EUROPE IN THE COMING YEARS?
I would say that one of the main challenges in the coming years is that we are moving towards increased regulatory pressure. Several countries are following Europe with REACH-lookalike regulations, South Korea and Turkey being first up, and we should expect more countries to follow this trend. This will no doubt increase business complexity for exporting regions, such as Europe. Another trend is a continuous movement towards higher quality requirements, both in the automotive and industrial sectors, which will favor highly specialized companies. This trend is in my view positive for European producers that generally have very high-quality standards. A third important trend is the electrification of the cars on the road. We see that several countries and even individual cities are restricting the use of ICE vehicles and have set ambitious targets regarding the future share of electric vehicles. This will pose challenges for lubricant manufacturers, as it will lead to declining demand for automotive engine oils, which represent a significant portion of the lubricant market. However, this trend will also offer opportunities for specialized companies to develop a new product range, especially for electrical vehicles.
RUSSIA AND THE CIS REGION - ARE THERE ANY DIFFERENT TRENDS YOU SEE IN THIS GEOGRAPHICAL AREA?
I would say that generally Russia and the CIS region follow Europe. There may be a time lag as for when the trends impact the region, but in the past we have seen that there are great similarities in the way the lubricant market operates in Europe and Russia. An example is the transition from Group I to Group II and III paraffinic oils. We have seen many retrofitting projects and new capacity installments in Russia, indicating that the region, like Europe, is moving towards more refined base oils and higher quality lubricants.
WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT EVENT / SUCCESS STORY FROM THE LAST YEAR?
Last year’s success story is the good performance of the lubricant industry, in particular in Russia, which grew by 1.2% compared to 2017, well above the world average of around 0.5%. The demand growth was observed both in the industrial and the automotive sectors’ positive performance and was driven by the country’s strong economy, which had an impact on several lubricant related sectors, such as the automotive, metallurgical, and the mining sectors.
WHAT IS THE UEIL ROLE IN THE INDUSTRY AS YOU SEE IT?
UEIL plays an important role in the European lubricant industry, as it serves as a reference point in all issues linked to the lubricant industry. UEIL’s ambition is to play a leading role in driving competitiveness and sustainable growth, thereby safeguarding the excellence of the European lubricant industry on the global stage. UEIL supports its members in a variety of topics, from HSE related issues, to access to technical information. UEIL also issues yearly industry statistics. As a reputable source of information, UEIL strives to provide an independent and impartial view of the European lubricant market. The data are developed, interpreted and commented by a team of experts from leading lubricant producers and are a valuable tool to monitor trends and make informed business decisions. The data also help to communicate and educate external stakeholders about the sector.
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