Lubricant producers raise alarm over substandard base oil

Oil barrel.

Oil barrel.

PRODUCERS of lubricants have raised a fresh alarm over the proliferation of adulterated and fake lubricant products in the Nigerian market, warning that the development portends danger to users and the nation’s economy and could cripple the local industry if urgent steps are not taken to arrest the disturbing trend.

The lubricant producers who spoke at the on-going Oil Trading Logistics (OTL) conference in Lagos yesterday, expressed concern over threat to the lubricant industry by indiscriminate importation of substandard lubricants and adulteration of member’s products.

They said the situation has led to economic loss to consumers of such unwholesome products, which most often result in breakdown of machineries, environmental pollution as well as undue competition for local producers as they come very cheap to unsuspecting customers.

Speaking at the conference, the Managing Director of Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc, Tunji Oyetunji, said that Nigeria’s lubricant industry remained the only vibrant sub-sector of the oil and gas industry, which is still attracting investment despite the challenges facing the downstream sector.

According to him, despite the huge investment in the sector, activities of adulterators of lubricant and base oil may cripple their efforts if not checked by the Federal Government.

He said that in spite of the sub-sector’s contribution and potential to the nation’s economy, Nigerian lubes market is also a dumping ground for substandard and off-specifications imported lubes of questionable quality.

The Managing Director of LUBCON, Taiye Williams, lamented that the country has continued to import base oil since Kaduna Refinery base oil plant has not produced since 1995.

He stated: “We import 100 percent of our base oil need in the country because Kaduna Refinery is unable to produce the product. There is a lot of fake base oil in the market, which are destroying car engines. Most of the base oil in the market has very high sulfur content, which is capable of causing damage to your engine.”

He stated that the lubricants imported with undervalued invoicing, deluge the markets and were sold at a cheaper rate than genuine locally-produced ones. This is despite the fact that locally- produced genuine lubricants go through further process of manufacture; consequently, selling at a higher cost than their foreign counterparts.

He stressed the need to train personnel of regulatory agency to enable them effectively carry out their duties.
Williams was of the view that sustainable growth of the sector could only be achieved if government reduced import tariffs, implement sound fiscal and stable monetary policies and maintain stable and lower interest rate regimes.

He also called for more collaboration between the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and Lubricant Producers Association of Nigeria in order to curb the activities of adulterators.

Head, Lubes Sales and Marketing, Masters Energy Oil and Gas Limited, Gbenga Olaoye, noted that the adulterators have resolved to fake well-known brands in the market.

Olaoye emphasized the need for stakeholders in the subsector to curb the activities of the perpetrators of fake products in the industry by taking a step ahead of them.

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