Shell’s newest grease plant, located in Zhuhai, China and opened on 18 January, will make a range of lithium, lithium calcium and lithium complex greases, which have numerous uses in industrial bearing lubrication on minesites, from dump truck wheel bearings to conveyor drive and crusher bearing applications. The plant, Shell’s largest, has a production capacity of 30,000 t/y of greases, with the potential to be expanded to 40,000 t/y. It is primarily designed to meet China’s growing demand for greases. Mark Gainsborough, Shell Executive Vice President for Shell Global Commercial, said: “I am pleased that we are starting off 2013 with this opening which builds on Shell’s strong heritage in the greases business. We have a track record as a pioneer in grease technology innovation, especially for extremely durable greases.”
Shell sells these greases under the Gadus brand. The function of greases, like all lubricants, is to protect equipment. What differentiates greases from lubricant oils is that greases stay in place – particularly important in bearings in joints. Grease can stay in place because it contains a thickener. Some 70 years ago, Shell pioneered and patented the lithium-thickener technology. It is now the world’s most popular grease thickener. Huibert Vigeveno, Executive Chairman of Shell Companies in China, said: “Shell is the number one international supplier of lubricants in terms of market share in China. By building Shell’s largest grease plant in China, we are able to be closer to our customers. China’s lubricants demand, including that for grease, is growing fast and we are committed to meeting our customers’ needs and serving them well.”
This Zhuhai grease plant’s opening follows on the heels of a series of Shell lubricants supply chain investments. In the same complex in November 2009, Shell opened its largest operating lubricants blending plant in Asia (by volume) to supply southern China with mainstream lubricant products and in August 2011, Shell opened a state-of-the-art Lubricants Technical Service Centre. This provides technical, marketing and training support to lubricants customers and OEMs. Elsewhere in China, Shell announced in August 2012 that its plans to build one of Shell’s largest lubricants blending plant worldwide in Tianjin, near Beijing. Shell was the first international oil company to open a lubricants blending plant in Russia in October 2012. In November 2012, Shell announced plans to build its first lubricants oil blending plant in Indonesia.
The plant will consist of a workshop – with four production lines – grease processing equipments, plant control system, pack filling lines and laboratory equipment and other associated facilities. It will also have a warehouse for storage of packed raw materials, packaging and finished products, bulk additive and base oil tanks, bulk finished products tanks and truck unloading facilities.