ExxonMobil Basestocks Strategic Accounts Executive Nick Harris speaks at the 15th ICIS Asian Base Oils and Lubricants Conference, held in March 2023 at the Fairmont Hotel in Singapore.

The Future of Base Stocks Starts Today: 2023 ICIS Asian Base Oils and Lubricants Conference Recap

This year’s Annual ICIS Asian Base Oils and Lubricants Conference, which was held in Singapore from March 15-17, was significant for multiple reasons, not the least of which being that this was the first time the event was held in person in the past four years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Simply getting the regional industry back together in one place was important and noteworthy in and of itself. And for us at ExxonMobil, it was the perfect moment to discuss the future of base stocks and reconfirm our commitment to investing in the base stocks industry in the Asia-Pacific region.

Singapore Resid Upgrade Ramp Up

During the conference, our Asia Pacific Fuels Vice President, Shwu Hoon Ong and our Singapore Resid Upgrade Project Business Readiness Manager, Pascal de Bast Thiers provided an update on the status of our Singapore Resid Upgrade Project (SRUP). The project is a multi-billion-dollar expansion to our integrated manufacturing complex in Singapore to convert fuel oil and other crude products into higher-value lube base stocks.
ExxonMobil has been progressing the project steadily in line with improving market conditions post-pandemic. As of today, progress is notable, and the skyline of our Singapore complex is beginning to change as seven of the fifteen chemical reactors for the project have been put into place.

As industry players gathered in Singapore for the conference, we took advantage to provide tours of the facility for our shareholders and prospective customers. Such tours were met with tremendous enthusiasm given our progress in the project.

Adding 20,000 barrels per day of Group II base stocks, including up to 6,000 barrels per day of extra-heavy base stocks, SRUP will help enhance supply chain security through business cycles and meet the global demand for base stocks and diesel that has come roaring back following the pandemic. The project increases supplies of EHC™ 50 base stock to the region and introduces our global heavy neutral EHC™ 120 base stock to the Asian market. But most importantly, the new facility will manufacture our new EHC 340 MAX™ product for ExxonMobil’s global network of supply hubs.

Introducing EHC 340 MAX™ Base Stock

Earlier in the day, during the Breakfast Symposium prior to the conference, my colleague Bob Duggal and I had the opportunity to address a packed house of our colleagues in the Asian-Pacific base stock industry.

The topic from our presentation that sparked significant interest from our audience was the introduction of EHC 340 MAX™, a Group II extra-heavy neutral base stock that expands our EHC slate into heavier, viscosity-grade applications. Several conference attendees commented on the truly groundbreaking nature of the product.

Heavier viscosity lubricants have traditionally use GrpI brightstock. Grp I base stock production sites are traditionally smaller and dependent on integration with their fuels business. As these smaller sites look at their long-term options, some decide not to invest in the continued maintenance and keep of their Grp I base oil production. This is why from 2010 to 2020, we have seen a decline of about 20%. Furthermore, post-pandemic rising demand for extra heavy neutral base stocks, ng and a resurgent yet constrained supply chain activity threatened our customers’ business continuity. EHC 340 MAX™ introduction will enhance the efficiency of ExxonMobil’s existing EHC Base Stock slate, bolstering and increasing these supply chains in ways not previously possible.

The outstanding low temperature and oxidative stability of EHC 340 MAX™ enable excellent performance in various applications. It positions the product as a cost-effective replacement for alternative high-viscosity base stocks, traditional thickeners and viscosity modifiers as lubricant thickeners.

EHC 340 MAX™ speaks directly to ExxonMobil’s core competencies of innovation, application expertise and operation efficiency, given the ability to operate at scale. The introduction of the new base stock at ExxonMobil Singapore refinery portrays the company’s quest for innovative manufacturing of lubricant components by taking advantage of the integrated nature of its petrochemical complex in Singapore.

As part of the new product introduction, ExxonMobil is working in the industry to develop customer solutions in advance for the product introduction in 2025.

The Way Forward

After the industry and interpersonal disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 15th ICIS Asian Base Oils and Lubricants Conference represented an opportunity to meet our colleagues face-to-face and return to a semblance of normalcy.

It did not disappoint. The warmth, curiosity and excitement of our peers and colleagues made the trip worthwhile and underlined that the industry is returning to stability and growth. The engagement we received in the room as we finished our presentation was excellent. Customers who visited our booth could visually see our project and product, which was also excellent.

For ExxonMobil Basestocks, the future of the lubricants industry looks strong, and this is why it is important for us that our customers understand our commitment to their success. I am already looking forward to greet my colleagues at next year's Annual ICIS Asian Base Oils and Lubricants Conference, to share more details about our progress with the Singapore Resid Upgrade Project a\d our new EHC 340 MAX product.

I hope to see you there.

For key insights into the industry, along with exclusive updates on our global refinery expansion projects, subscribe to our quarterly newsletter Taking Stock.

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