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Global lubricants industry - statistics & facts

In a world where machines are commonplace, lubricants are extremely important. From their use in traditional machines such as cars to specialty lubricants such as those used in artificial joints, lubricants touch every part of our lives. In 2019, the global demand for lubricants amounted to nearly 37 million metric tons. The per capita lubricant demand is highest in North America, where it is almost four times the world average of 4.8 kilograms per person.

In the United States, passenger car engine oils account for over a quarter of the market share of the lubricants industry. Other lubricant products include process oil, heavy duty engine oil, hydraulic oil, and transmission and metalworking fluids. Given the demand for lubricants in manufacturing processes, China has the highest market volume of lubricants worldwide. The estimated lubricant market size in the United States alone amounts to over 19 billion U.S. dollars.

The original lubricants were organic, usually animal fats or plant oils. After a century of focusing on the petroleum-based refinery production of lubricants, synthetic and semi-synthetic lubricants such as polyalphaolefin are beginning to gain traction in the market.

Of course, the majority of the industry remains reliant on petroleum. In the United States alone, automotive lubricants have a market value approaching four million tons per year. Agricultural and mining lubricants are also large market segments. This underscores the ubiquity of petroleum products in modern life.

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