Ship & Bunker talks to Roman Miroshnichenko, Marine Oil Business Director at Gazpromneft-Lubricants, to learn more about the company's past, present, and future, and the challenges of 2020.
S&B: Tell us about the origins and history of Gazpromneft-Lubricants.
Gazpromneft-Lubricants is the oil business operator of the Gazprom Neft – one of the largest Russian Vertically Integrated Oil Companies. Gazpromneft-Lubricants was founded in November, 2007. The company's branch in St. Petersburg has been developing the marine lubricant business since March, 2012. The key tasks of the branch are to set up production of high quality marine lubricants and deliver them to customers worldwide. In just a few years, Gazpromneft-Lubricants has become a national market leader in both production volume and marine lubricant sales.
S&B: From those origins, where is the company today?
Gazpromneft-Lubricants supplies a broad line of high quality marine lubricants for all types of vessels: motor oils for two-stroke and four-stroke engines operating on different fuel types, as well as hydraulic, compressor and turbine oils, coolants and specialized lubricants. The Gazpromneft-Lubricants' products are represented in over 500 ports globally. The company's production sites are certified and qualified by international commercial and environmental safety standards.
S&B: Who are Gazpromneft-Lubricants' target customers & markets?
The clients of Gazpromneft-Lubricants include major Russian and foreign ship-owners, the routes of which pass through Russian ports. The first and foremost these are ship-owners for whom continuous supplies of high quality lube oils and professional technical service are important. Due to our extensive product portfolio, we can bunker with oil any kind of vessel: bulk carriers, dry-cargo ships, arctic tankers, cruise liners, fishing vessels and nuclear icebreakers.
S&B: How does Gazpromneft-Lubricants differentiate itself in today's market?
Gazpromneft-Lubricants produces marine lube oils at its own plants by using its own base oils. This allows us to maintain competitive prices and high product quality.
We have the widest supply network in Russia, including Far Eastern ports. Our company employees have extensive marine business experience, therefore we have an excellent understanding of the ship-owners' interests and we know the specifics of their work. This allows us to build long-term, strong and confident interrelationships with our clients, based on constructive dialogue.
S&B: Tell us about Gazpromneft-Lubricants' plans and vision for future development.
We plan on creating a large international structure and expanding our supply network to 800 ports. Our strategic goal is to supply marine lubricants throughout the world, maintaining a constant service level and product quality.
We believe that Gazpromneft-Lubricants will be among the Top 10 major marine lubricant suppliers and will gain at least 10% of the global market by 2025.
S&B:The technical landscape for lubes has changed significantly in recent years: the introduction of Emissions Control Areas (ECAs) and at-berth rules mandating the use of lower sulfur bunker fuels of varying percentages; changes to vessel operating profiles that includes slow steaming; and modern "eco" engines that have been tuned on a pervessel basis to operate at specific lower load levels. These all contribute to a landscape where the technical challenge for lubes has never been greater. How is Gazpromneft- Lubricants meeting this challenge?
Our specialists are continually working on the product range development that meet the current market trends and needs of the ship-owners. It goes without saying that all of the mentioned industry trends have forced us to analyze the product portfolio and its optimization. Gazpromneft-Lubricants' product line currently includes oils for use in Emission Control Areas (ECAs) for ships operating on low-sulfur fuel, as well as lubricant products for "environmentally friendly" engines. The Gazpromneft-Lubricants product line also has marine lube oils with higher alkaline number for ship engines running for a long time at slow steaming mode to ensure the maximum protection of rings, cylinder bushings and maintain clean pistons.
S&B: The landscape for lubes is set to change even further in 2020 with the introduction of a global 0.50% sulfur cap on marine fuel, something that is widely expected to see a mass shift away from traditional fuel oil-based bunkers to the use of distillates, as well as the introduction of a host of new fuel oil-based blends and so-called hybrid fuels. How is Gazpromneft-Lubricants preparing for this change, especially with respect to the sudden yet uncertain shift in product demand?
One of the company's main development priorities is the concern for the environment. We welcome those solutions that really work to improve the condition of the global environment. Amendments to the International Environmental Law restricting the quantity of sulfur in marine fuel will go into effect only within 2.5 years, but even now we are offering our clients marine oils with low alkaline number that can be used by engines running either on fuel with ultra-low sulfur content or on LNG.