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What is the Noack Volatility Test?

What is the Four-Ball Wear Test?

What is TBN?


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State of the Lubricants Industry Report

When people think of the oil industry, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the cost of fuel. When oil and fuel costs more, everything costs more. It's not just at the pump; groceries cost more, deliveries cost more and of course, motor oil costs more. While AMSOIL produces only synthetic lubricants, the company is still hit hard by high oil prices.

An example of how shock waves from current market volatility will be felt lies in the auto industry. Up to now, automakers have protected themselves from market fluctuations by locking into long term contracts will steel producers. That's why large increases in steel prices haven't driven up the costs of new vehicles. But those contracts are starting to run out. The same sort of scenario is playing out with every other commodity. Copper, zinc, aluminum, magnesium and plastic are all skyrocketing in price. According to Ward's Automotive, in the near future a $20,000 vehicle will be a $30,000 vehicle, a $30,000 vehicle will be a $40,000 vehicle and so on.

Raw Materials
Ingredients of synthetic lubes, additives and base stocks, even synthetic base stocks, have some basis in crude oil and natural gas. The unprecedented increase in crude oil over the past year is driving the cost of key chemicals up sharply and often. Butane, ethylene, propylene, benzene and other chemicals used to produce base oils have all skyrocketed in price. Over the past 12 months, the price of base oils used in the production of AMSOIL synthetic lubricants has risen by 47 percent. Additives have been greatly affected as well. Diesel oil additives are up 27 percent and gasoline engine oil additives are up 25 percent, all within the past six months. The price increases from AMSOIL chemical and raw material suppliers are issued so frequently and with such significant impact that it's almost impossible to maintain sufficient pricing levels. And more price increases are in the pipeline.

The price of plastic has risen dramatically due to the increased price of crude oil, and AMSOIL is greatly affected. Plastic packaging, including quarts, gallons, pails and twin packs, has risen in price by over 14 percent in the past 12 months, and plastic cap prices have risen 21 percent in the past 12 months. In addition, steel drums have risen in price by 39.5 percent in the past six months alone.

Freight companies commonly use fuel surcharges to cope with fluctuations in the price of fuel. Twelve months ago, AMSOIL paid a fuel surcharge of $0.35 per mile. Currently, the company pays $0.71 per mile, and has paid as much as $0.81 per mile. Fuel surcharges are in addition to regular freight rates, and current freight surcharges nearly double the cost of shipping. Additionally, fuel surcharges apply to everything coming in and going out, so AMSOIL pays a fuel surcharge and freight on packaging as it comes in and again when it is shipped out as a finished product.

Supply and Demand
While demand for finished lubricants continues to rise, supply has remained tight. China, India, South Africa and other densely-populated countries are using more oil all the time. In addition, competition for many of the chemicals used to produce lubricants continues to increase. For example, the demand for biofuels has dramatically increased the demand for the crops used in their production, which has in turn increased the demand for fertilizer. Many chemical fertilizers are formulated with raw materials derived from the same chemicals used to produce oil additives, further depleting supplies.

For example: seventy percent of sulfur produced is used in fertilizers. Sulfur prices went from $60 to $452 per long ton since Q2 2007 - an increase of 650 percent.

Ninety-five percent of phosphate rock is used in fertilizers. Phosphate rock prices increased from $20/MT in March 2007 to $400/MT in March 2008. That's an increase of 1,900 percent in the last year.

Lithium is another common ingredient necessary to grease production that is being used up quickly by other industries. Lithium is a silver-white, soft alkalai metal that, under normal conditions, is the lightest metal and least dense solid element. Lithium hydroxide, a lithium derivative, is primarily used in the grease industry, with demand growing at a steady 2 percent per year over the past 20 years. Lithium-based greases are popular in automotive, industrial, military, aircraft and marine operations. Lithium is also used in glass and cement applications, and has the ability to store electrical energy. Lithium carbonate is an important component in batteries for mobile phones, laptops, camcorders, cameras and electric and hybrid cars. With the popularity of portable electronic devices, and environmental concerns increasing demand for electric and hybrid cars to unprecedented levels, demand for lithium is increasing and will continue to increase. For example, Toyota plans to offer only hybrid vehicles by 2020.

Political instability around the globe, rampant speculation, restricted access to new sources, lack of investment in new production and a weak U.S. dollar are major issues affecting the current state of volatility. These issues are outside the U.S. government's control and all have some impact on the lubricants industry by affecting prices.

Current Trends
Vehicle manufacturers are under pressure to provide more efficient cars and trucks. As a result, many have begun recommending lower-viscosity motor oils as a way of improving fuel efficiency.

As environmental concerns continue driving trends toward fuel efficiency and reduced waste, quality becomes more important. As a result, top-tier, high-mileage and synthetic oils now account for almost 20 percent of the North American personal car motor oil (PCMO) market and continue to gain ground.

Heavy-duty diesel applications are facing many of the same trends. Higher value, biofuels compatibility, extended drain capability and fuel economy are hot topics among heavy-duty diesel owners. In addition, the EPA recently acknowledged that lubricants in general can deliver a 1-2 percent improvement in fuel economy, increasing the trend toward quality oils.

Future Trends
Environmental concerns look to be the driving force behind future lubricant trends. Improved fuel economy, reduced emissions, maximum engine cleanliness, improved durability and extended oil drain intervals will be the targets for future oil formulations. But environmental issues are far from the only factor to consider when planning future lube formulations. The lubricant industry is a complicated business.

The Competition
All motor oil companies have been greatly affected by today's volatile market. Other companies raised prices to their distributors an average of 24 percent since March 2008. AMSOIL issued a 12-16 percent price increase effective August 1 and only had a 5 percent surcharge prior to that. September 1 will see another 7 percent increase.

According to Jobber's World figures obtained from leading auto parts chain stores in December 2005 and May 2008, competitive motor oil quart pricing has increased at an equal or greater percentage over that time period compared to AMSOIL synthetic motor oil as well.

Additional Challenges
As an independent oil company, AMSOIL faces many unique challenges. The volatility of the current market impacts independent manufacturers differently than it does "Big Oil." Recently, the Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association (ILMA) submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) renewing its criticism of the pricing practices of major oil companies. ILMA's biggest complaint lies with the major's practice of issuing a price increase for base oils to all of their competitors and delaying the subsequent price increase of their finished lubricants. Independent blenders, like AMSOIL, buy base oils from the majors and compete against them in the sale of finished goods.

In some cases, ILMA contends, the same suppliers that implement numerous base oil price increases to independents delay increasing prices on their finished products for 45 to 60 days, causing a price squeeze on independent lubricant manufacturers. For example, Shell announced a price increase of finished lubes May 23 that doesn't go into effect until August 5.

ILMA General Counsel Jeff Leiter said the only conclusion that can be reached is that the major oil companies are trying to squeeze out the independents for market share. "ExxonMobil might say 'Shell's our competition, not ILMA members,' but it's kind of curious that ExxonMobil is selling base oil to Shell. Exxon raises prices, and the rest of them follow suit the next day by the same amount. Our sense is, we've lost a competitive market for base oils, and that's what is creating the problem," said Leiter. Price increases from base oil suppliers used to be approximately $0.05 per gallon. Now they are more like $0.30 per gallon each increase.



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Premium AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oils offer the longest drain intervals on the market, unsurpassed protection and performance that effectively extends equipment life and improved fuel economy, saving customers money at the pump and reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil.

"AMSOIL INC. warrants that the use of its lubricants will not cause mechanical damage to any mechanically sound equipment when AMSOIL INC. products are used in full compliance with the company's recommendations and instructions."


AMSOIL synthetic motor oils are formulated to surpass engine test specifications, offering protection far greater than competing motor oils for extended drain intervals. Most synthetic oil manufacturers make no claim to extended drain intervals, deferring to the maintenance schedule provided by the vehicle manufacturer. With its unparalleled oil and warranty program, AMSOIL offers consumers unprecedented protection and economics.

Another AMSOIL First

More than 20 years ago, AMSOIL began using the NOACK volatility test as a comparison tool and measurement of quality. Back then, nearly every oil tested side-by-side with AMSOIL synthetic motor oils failed, and those that passed barely squeaked by. Other oil companies paid no attention to NOACK results until Ford Motor Company made it a requirement for service fill oils, validating what AMSOIL had said all along.

THE NOACK Volatility Test
The NOACK Volatility Test determines the evaporation loss of lubricants in high temperature service. The more motor oils vaporize, the thicker and heavier they become, contributing to poor circulation, reduced fuel economy and increased oil consumption, wear and emissions. AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil resists high temperature volatization better than other motor oils. AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil maintains peak fuel efficiency and reduces oil consumption and emissions.

AMSOIL Now An ISO Certified Manufacturer
AMSOIL recently received ISO 9001:2000 certification of our Quality Management System (QMS). NSF International Strategic Registrations is the registrar that has verified our QMS meets the requirements of the ISO 9001:2000 standard, the most widely utilized quality standard throughout the world for quality management systems. ISO standards are used by over 300,000 companies worldwide setting rigorous standards for businesses, government and industry.

ISO 9001:2000 is applicable to any manufacturing and service organization providing a framework for system development that focuses on the customer, quality system performance and ongoing improvement. AMSOIL received ISO 9001:2000 registration under the scope: synthetic lubricants blending, packaging, and other fulfillment directly associated with lubricant product.

The ISO certification puts AMSOIL in line with some of the most efficient companies in the world. It is further assurance that the products and services AMSOIL provides will continue to maintain the high level of quality the company always demanded.

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