As much as the lubricants industry might wish it otherwise,
base stocks production is becoming more commoditized, and it is
intertwined inextricably with mainstream refining operations.
The vast majority of base stock production occurs in lube
blocks, which are integrated, both physically and
commercially, with their co-located parent fuels refineries.
Its possible to draw an imaginary fence that defines the
lube block, separating it conceptually from mainstream refining. Into the lube block may
flow a variety of feedstocks (primarily vacuum gasoil
(VGO), but also hydrocracker bottoms, vacuum tower bottoms and
hydrogen) while intermediate streams not sold directly from the
lube block to third parties are returned across the
fence to the parent refinery, for pool blending or
conversion in fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) or coking units.