Despite the negative impact of the 2008-2009 recession on the global consumption of lubricants, Shell has managed to retain its position as the global market share leader for the fourth consecutive year. The energy market front-runner accounts for 13.4 percent of all finished lubricant sales, according to latest study Global Lubricants 2009: Market Analysis and Assessment from worldwide consulting and research firm Kline & Company.

Shell outperforms ExxonMobil and BP, which rank in second and third place with 11% and 7% of global market share, respectively. Chevron, Total and Petro-China follow. Kline’s report estimates global lubricant demand in 2009 at 35 million tonnes. This significant decline of 8.4% over the previous year follows the 2.6% decline the industry experienced between 2007 and 2008.

As predicted by Kline, the impact of the global recession has been less severe in the Asia-Pacific region. This region has continued to show the most robust growth on a volumetric basis, and now accounts for 39% of the total global market. This trend, which has seen Asia-Pacific become an increasingly significant global market player, is likely to prevail as China and India are expected to continue to be the growth engines for the lubricants industry in the future.

On the other hand, the United States is among those markets most severely curtailed by the economic downturn, experiencing a double-digit decline in 2009. With a 22% share of global lubricant sales, it maintains the position of leading country market. However, maintaining this position will depend heavily on the ability of the United States to stabilize and recover from the effects of the economic downturn and adapt to the changing dynamic in the market.

A range of developments will be shaping the global demand for lubricants. Integral to any robust market revival is the pace of recovery from the recession. Also crucial will be the ability of market players to adapt to evolving demands for lubricant performance levels and specifications dictated by original equipment manufacturers; technological expertise has, and will increasingly be a key differentiator. The changing competitive landscape, channel shifts, and raw material availability will require effective strategies from participants at all levels of the supply chain to ensure consumer loyalty.

“There is an ancient Chinese proverb which translates as, ‘May you live in interesting times,’” states Geeta Agashe, vice president of Kline’s Energy practice, when assessing the situation in the global lubricants market. “In this industry, there is no shortage of significant changes that we are blessed with.”

Global Lubricants 2009: Market Analysis and Assessment provides a detailed analysis of the global automotive and industrial lubricant industry segments and the players who participate in them. It combines regional market analyses into a comprehensive program to provide finished lubricant formulators, additive and basestock suppliers, and end users with the latest information on products, services, applications and trends.