The dominant trend in the lubricant basestocks industry has been the decline in supply of Group I basestocks due to technical obsolescence as well as over-supply of higher performance Group II and Group III basestocks. Group I basestocks can no longer be used to blend high-performance and mid-tier passenger car motor oils (PCMO) and heavy duty motor oils (HDMO) due to their high sulfur content, high volatility, poor low temperature properties, and low viscosity index. At the same time, the supply of high performance Group II and Group III basestocks has exploded over the last ten years and more new supply is in the pipeline. Oversupply of these high performance basestocks drives the trend to substitute Group I with Group II even in applications where there is no technical need.
The result of this market dynamic has been a dramatic shrinkage in the Group I market. Between 2006 and 2009 the share of Group I basestocks in overall supply has declined from 66% of total to about 55% of total on a global basis. The decline in North America and Europe where most of the Group I plant closures occurred has been even more pronounced.
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