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Bright Stock Market Trends and Forecast (Current to 2027)

The global demand for bright stock, a key lubricant component, stood at 2.7 million tons in 2017. Projections from Kline & Co. indicate a downward trend, expecting a decrease of approximately 250,000 tons by 2027.

The demand dynamics vary from region to region, with Europe accounting for 10-12% of global demand, and is anticipated to see a minor decline, while Africa and the Middle East, represent 12-15%, and are expected to witness a growth rate of 0.5% annually.

The supply market is primarily dominated by conventional API Group I bright stocks, accounting for 85-90% of demand. The remaining demand is met by Group V (naphthenic bright stocks) and alternative bright stocks, including Group II. Despite the slight oversupply in the global bright stock market, at around 2.8 million tons total, the demand for bright stock in automotive engine oils is on a decline particularly in developed regions, leading to a surplus in Europe and a deficit in Africa and the Middle East.

Europe's bright stock market is notably underrepresented, despite the region's significant share in global finished lubricant demand. Conversely, Africa and the Middle East have a higher bright stock demand relative to their finished lubricant demand, with monograde engine oils, which require bright stock in their formulations.

The application of bright stocks is evolving, with a lesser representation in automotive engine oils and a significant presence in industrial applications, automotive gear oils, marine oils, and greases. The shift towards higher quality automotive engine oils and the rise of Group II/III lubricants are major factors contributing to the decline in bright stock demand.

Furthermore, the closure of Group I plants, which has resulted in a reduction of 1.3 to 1.4 million tons of bright stock capacity globally since 1997, poses a significant challenge to the market. This trend is expected to lead to a net bright stock deficit of 250,000 to 300,000 tons by 2027. To bridge this gap, alternatives such as polyisobutylenes (PIBs) and high-viscosity polyalkylene glycols are being considered, with PIBs highlighted as the most favorable option due to their availability, technical suitability, and volume savings.

In summary, the bright stock market is undergoing significant changes, with regional disparities in supply and demand, shifts in application preferences, and the looming challenge of capacity reductions. These factors collectively point towards a gradual decline in demand, necessitating the exploration of alternative solutions to meet future needs.

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