Every month, Mike Skypala shares his view from the bridge with observations about the latest news and emerging trends in the lubricants industry.
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The IEAs Global oil predictions could mean a new way of working for refiners and producers; heavy trucks are in the spotlight for the latest emissions clamp-down, putting manufacturers under more pressure.
The 'hurricane season' has had a direct and indirect impact on the oil and lubes producers, while global markets are facing some turbulence and the oil majors are being challenged by the independents in the non-conventional base stocks market.
The global legislative drive to reduce the burn of fossil fuels and enhance air quality is setting challenges for the lubricants industry as OEMs are forced to seek alternative power sources for vehicles and other modes of transport. How the industry responds will be critical over the next few years.
As the lubes industry continues to grow, the influence of a fragile global economy and unpredictable political outcomes in Europe and elsewhere may yet derail the positive market.
If the UK leaves Europe, what impact will this have on the global lubricants industry? Sebastian Crawshaw appeals for a vote to remain in the EU.
Molecule or Marketing - which will be more important for the Lubes Industry as chemistry becomes increasingly standardised to meet stringent emissions regulations?
The ICIS Conference in London highlighted the longer-term challenges faced by the lubes industry in squaring the circle between competitive products to consumers and meeting increasingly complex regulations and specifications.
Is the VW crisis the auto-industry's Deepwater Horizon and will it prove to be a turning point? What role will lubricants play in helping meet the increasing environmental pressures now being placed on the auto sector?
What if the current oil price is the new reality? The effect of low prices on the global economy, lubes producers and off-highway manufacturers. Plus artificial intelligence in providing lubes information.
In our 50th China View from the Bridge we look back at the last five years of China's development and examine the changes China has made in such a short space of time. We also make some predictions as to what we might see in the next few years of the China Bulletin
The UNITI Conference provided thought-provoking insights into the future of the European and global automotive and lubricants industries - from multiple propulsion solutions to ultra-thin engine oils.
China's latest clampdown on pollution and vehicle emissions, along with volatile domestic and export sales of cars and trucks, is creating challenges for both lubes producers and vehicle makers.
Falling oil prices are prompting lubes producers to revise product costs, but hard discounting can prove as troublesome as maintaining high prices in China's online marketplace
As oil prices and sanctions continue to bite in various parts of the world, Sebastian Crawshaw ponders what next for the US, Europe and Russia, as well as the global lubricants industry.
OATS launches a dynamic new data platform - earlFUSION; the Eurozone could slide back into recession; Russian sanctions bite on automotive industry and the spread of Ebola virus could take a massive toll.
OATS launches the new earl
A slowing global economy could impact on a lubes industry also under pressure from the drive for fuel consumption and emissions reduction, while developing nations have mixed results in the battle for lubes production self-sufficiency.
The marine lubricants sector is facing the same challenges as their land-based counterparts in helping OEMs meet emissions legislation. Meanwhile there is good news for the additives sector.
The FIFA World Cup offers pause for thought on global economic, digital and lubricants developments over the past four years and looking ahead to the next tournament in four years time.
As the US economy takes a dip, but heads for further improvement, Europe still struggles with a multi-speed recovery. However, manufacturing innovation may be one salvation - the Soccer World Cup might just be another.
30 years of OATS has seen plenty of change in the global and Chinese lubricants markets. Now China's oil majors are under pressure from smaller domestic producers and larger overseas competitors. 2014 is a time of convergence both nationally and internationally.
China's economic growth has significant bonuses for the lubes and automotive industries but could be constrained by the challenges of pollution and emissions control. Domestic manufacturers could fail in the EV sector against overseas rivals.
China's economic growth remains something for the rest of the world to aspire to, however, pollution is another matter. China's national lubes makers are under increasing pressure to enhance their product and reduce auto pollution.
The re-balance in the lubricants economy; UEIL conference contributions, refining over-capacity squeezes the oil majors and the Middle East enters the fray and how the lubes industry is helping to drive F1.
China's high-quality lubricants production is on the rise as the country's vehicle market and performance levels increases. Can local producers make the most of the trend?
PMIs are generally on the up, despite the threat to the world's economy from the US Budget battle. Automotive PMI is volatile and lubes marketers will need all the digital support then can get.
Is corporate acquisition necessarily a good thing for either party? Are we set for another major oil industry re-structure and are the BRICS nations really in a position to lead the world out of its economic doldrums?
High interbank lending rates, continued downward economic forecasts and the challenge of implementing National IV emissions standards are all conspiring to put pressure on the Chinese economy, lubes producers and consumers.
Tensions between China's dipping PMI and expanding auto industry sending mixed messages. Is there a danger of over-reaction to short-term figures? Is China's lubes industry ready to cope with an increasingly competitive market?
The drive for US gas is affecting the energy majors' profitability, but the lubes sector is running a tighter ship. The internet is forcing an omni-channel model in the retail sector and OATS is re-aligning its Bulletin from next month.
What would happen if US consumers follow Europe's diesel consumption and petrol reduction lead? How will the trend for Always On technology impact lubes marketing in developing nations.
Smog and population, China v Africa. Sebastian Crawshaw look at two important world issues.
Beijing's smog problem is reaching dangerous levels, but should the government be looking to the automotive and oil industries to solve the problem?
A generally positive outlook for 2013 for the global economy and the oil and lubricants sectors, but the legislators are likely to be the key influencers.
The world's two biggest economies continue to drive the global money-go-round as Europe battles with its own financial issues. Meanwhile OEMs update their data and mobile technology advances.
Signs of improved confidence in the US economy could rub-off on the rest of the world despite gloomy short-term predictions. What will CAFE and other emissions standards do to the lubes economy?
The political and economic crisis in the Eurozone is continuing to have a global impact on the lubes industry. Sebastian Crawshaw discusses what could happen next and looks at the new CARS 21 regulations.
The Russian vehicle parc is modernising rapidly and lubes producers are having to keep pace with high quality products. Russian producers will need to look at JVs if they are to avoid losing the lubes market to 'Western' produducers.
China's analysts are taking a long, comparative look at growth predictions against reality as China's economy starts to slow, the drive for quality lubes continues but domestic automakers fail to perform.
The global mood is changing in the economy and in lubes industry asset management and marketing communications.
Have the latest PMIs created a fog of indecision amongst the world's legislators as they look for a way out further economic crisis? What next for the lubricants market?
Lubes quality, the rise of Group II and III base oils in Asia and the continued need for Group I in China were the hot topics at the recent ICIS conference, while global oil prices still challenge the Chinese market.
BRIC becomes BRICS as the balance in the world's economic drivers starts to tip. OATS examines the influence of China, Russia and South Africa after the latest round of conferences.
The Japanese environmental disaster, combined with a slowing global economy and short-term auto production slowdown, could still benefit the lubes industry.
The New Year brings a look at the global economy and the signs of growth for the lubricants industry
The UEIL conference in Vienna provided plenty of food for thought from safety risk management to global lubricants demand and 'cool apps'.
Optimism for European growth is spurred by the continued rise of China according to expert forecasts.
Torrey Canyon and ExxonValdez are names tattooed on the collective memories of both the oil industry and the general public as shipping-related disasters causing exceptional levels of pollution – and helped change cultures and attitudes.
Global forecasts for 2010 growth in real GDP are increased to 4.5% but the recovery rates vary significantly by country even within the dynamic BRIC economies. In Russia, how will the significant increase in car imports impact on the lubricants market?
The world looks different depending on your location After attending conferences recently in New York and London, it’s been exciting to visit China & to hear China’s future plan which, unlike many western political events, has a high probability of being implemented.
As detailed in this month’s Corporate News, February has seen the recessionary effect of 2009 emerging in company results. ExxonMobil reported excellent overall figures, but markedly lower downstream earnings. Shell were well down overall, with downstream even weaker; BP were the same. So too Chevron, who also announced a wholesale review of their refining and downstream business.
Welcome to 2010 and the first streamlined OATS bulletin of the new decade. In December 2008, with the world economy in chaos, I set about reviewing what I thought would happen in 2009 to help OATS take a view on what to do next. This year I have done the same thing.
ILMA's clearly stated concerns about GM's proposed DEXOS specifications, and costs attached to them, reflect similar concerns expressed by the European Independents. Without clear, timely and easily accessible specification data, a competitive lubricants industry cannot be streamlined and effective.
The first shoots of global recovery are being widely reported, evidenced by US GDP growth of 3.5% in the Third Quarter of 2009 and buoyant figures from the petrochemical majors. If the multiple that applied on the way into the recession also applies on the way out, then lubricants demand should grow by 12-15% in the coming year. We shall see!
There's a wide range of news across the lubricants industry this month; not least the decision by Chevron to withdraw from India which is, in my view, yet another example of streamlining within the industry.
Welcome back to the OATS Bulletin after our August break. Although the Q2 results showed the impact of the the global recession on the major producers, the overall mood seems to have changed. With even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) prepared to send out optimistic messages, the question seems to be what letter will best represent the economic upturn: V, W or L?
What first appeared as a simple 'blip' in Brent crude prices at the end of June and turned out to be a sudden and massive global oil price rise caused by one 'rogue' speculator in the futures market. It would appear that government on both sides of the Atlantic are alive to the problem, let's hope sensible, well constructed regulation is the result.
Welcome to our streamlined look at lubricants industry news. In addition to providing our streamlined look at industry news, we also want to include original and thought provoking content that addresses some of the challenges we all face.
I couldn't let this month go by without a nod and a cheery wave to our 25th Anniversary. In 1984, Brian Harris and Mike Dixon set up OATS Ltd (Oil Advisory Technical Services) to create car lubricants recommendations for the UK market. The first electronic version of the guides appeared in 1994 and our Earl database has continued to evolve and now includes over 470,000 applications and is used in over 90 countries.
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