Base oils

Also known as: lubes

Base oils are one of the specialty products that can be produced by a refinery.

Base oils are not a fuel. They are blend stocks used to formulate a variety of lubricating oils for use in engines and other machinery.

Base oils are produced by extracting and treating high viscosity material from narrow distillation cuts of vacuum gasoil or vacuum resid. This requires special processing through a number of different units comprising the lubes plant.

Producing base oil is typically very profitable for a refinery because it allows the refiner to take some of the lowest valued part of crude oil, vacuum gasoil, or vacuum resid, and sell it as a high-valued specialty product.  However, base oil production facilities have a relatively high capital cost per barrel, so only a subset of refiners have installed them.

McKinsey uses cookies to improve site functionality, provide you with a better browsing experience, and to enable our partners to advertise to you. Detailed information on the use of cookies on this Site, and how you can decline them, is provided in our cookie policy. By using this Site or clicking on "OK", you consent to the use of cookies.