In my many years in the oil industry, I am always amazed when I approach a potential customer and the first question he asks is what the price of my product is. I usually sit back and ask myself whether Mr. Customer knows exactly what he intends to buy. The business man of today has resorted to cheating Mr. Customer to satisfy their ever growing demand on price competition. Coming from a background where product quality and integrity is key, it bothers me when I see Mr. Customer being cheated because of his own ignorance.
Additive companies like Lubrizol, Chevron Oronite, Afton and Infineum develop lubricant formulations meeting the relevant specifications. Blenders however violate these formulations routinely, to maximize sales and profits and to minimize costs.
The trend today is that in as much as the buyer specifies the lubricant specifications, he also stipulates the price at which he is comfortable buying at. The result is that the blender then adjusts his components to fit within the specified price. The buyer thinks that he is getting a good deal and is happy that his price goal has been met. Ultimately it is the user who suffers because of paying for low quality products.
The biggest determinant of the cost of a lubricant is the base oil used. In the spirit of meeting the price demands of Mr. Customer, blenders will use either re-cycled base oils, improperly re-refined base oils, low quality Group 1 base oils, EPDM rubber i.e ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber as Viscosity index Improver without any engine test data. All these are aimed at reducing the cost of the product without putting into consideration the damage it causes to your engine.
Another common practice adopted by blenders is using untested Chinese additives. Additives are chemical substance mixed with base oils to get specific desired characteristics of a lubricant. Many Chinese additive marketers do not even know the specifications of the products the additives are supposed to meet. They have contaminated the lube market. In the unlikely event that the right additive is used, it is used at a lower dosage, all this all aimed at satisfying Mr. Customer’s price demand.
Lubricants are generally supposed to be tested and approved by international standard bodies and equipment manufacturers. This process is very costly. Some blenders have resulted to not having their finished products go through these mandatory tests. The next time you are buying a cheap lubricant beware that the seller can’t guarantee the quality of the product you are buying. You have no surety and guarantee of the lubricant serving the purpose it’s intended to serve.
Great lubes manufacturing and blending companies like ENOC have outstanding Research and Development departments as well as technical professionals who understand quality and the importance of blending high quality lubricants. There are a few top notch professionals who have gotten into the habit of making quality lubes even if they are in other blending plants. Generally it is the rule of thumb that high quality lubes cost a bit more than poorly made lubes. Clever blenders have no use for such technical personnel. Most of the lube blending plants churn out low quality products.
Most of the plants in the gulf countries usually produce low quality lubes which are sold at low prices, mainly to African countries. Buyers from Africa ask for unusually low prices and blenders compete with each other to make such supplies. A lubricant is such a technical product that the choice of your lubrication requirement cannot rest purely on price basis. Africa is the most cheated continent from Gulf based lubricant companies even on quantity. Many times, a 5 Liter can fill 4.5 Litres of quantity. A 250 ml Brake fluid can has 225 ml of product. All this aimed at reducing the cost of the product to meet your price demand Mr. Customer.
Am sure you are asking yourself what then should we consider when choosing the right lubricant. Keep it Go hub for the info.
About the author
Nicholas Muli is the lubricant business Manager at Galana Oil Kenya Limited. With a background in Chemical engineering, he has worked in a blending plant, in technical support, in sales and marketing, has experience in managing the lubes business from end to end.