Lubricant sales at China Petroleum and Chemical Corp, or Sinopec, topped 320,000 tons in the first quarter, a year-on-year rise of 30 percent.
The growth is mainly attributed to the firm's branding strategy focusing on the Great Wall brand. The firm's lube sales for March is 38 percent higher when compared with the year-ago level, partly triggered by its brand reorganization in late February.
Sinopec, Asia's largest refiner, merged Haipai and Nanhaipai brands under the Great Wall banner to target the country's high-end auto lubricant market.
Sinopec's lube sales in March hit a 37.7 percent year-on-year rise in Shanghai, where Haipai was formerly Sinopec's major market participant.
The year-on-year sales growth in March for Maoming City in Guangdong Province topped 52 percent, where Nanhaipai was the former leader.
"Building up the Great Wall brand is Sinopec's key step to tap the country's high-end auto lubricant market," said an official with Great Wall Lubricating Oil Co under Sinopec surnamed Ma.
In the first quarter, Sinopec's high-end lube sales more than doubled when compared with the level a year ago.
After promoting the Great Wall brand, Sinopec now accounts for about one-third of the high-end lubricant market in China which used to be dominated by overseas oil firms such as Royal Dutch/Shell and Exxonmobil, Ma noted.
Before that, Sinopec accounted for only 20 percent of the high-end lube market.
The high-end auto lubricant market accounted for 70 percent of the market's profit though it contributed only around 30 percent of lubricant sales, industry insiders noted. The high-end market is expected to account for half of the sector next year.
China started to open its lubricant market at the beginning of the 1990s. Currently, Sinopec takes 30 percent of the market share in the lubricant sector.
China surpassed Russia as the world's second-largest lubricant consumer last year, following the United Stated.
China's lubricant sales topped 4.02 million tons in 2003, a year-on-year increase of 11 percent.
(eastday.com April 16, 2004)