Mineral Oil (Reconditioning)

The electric sector in Mexico grows at the same rate of growth of the country’s power infrastructure and the manufacturing base fed by large FDI companies since 1985; experts do not clearly foresee a stop to this trend through 2030. By the same token, a large number of Mexican electromechanical companies have succeeded in this market providing engineering services, electrical infrastructure, manufacturing, maintenance, etc.

Maintenance is by far one of the most profitable business in this sector. An abundance of electromechanical contractors take the credit for prolonged up time, safety and reliability of large and medium size power centrals and substations.

In 2015, Mexico imports of HS842129 amounted to $5,313,647 for oil reconditioning machines imported from USA, China, Japan and Canada. The same year, 33,567,992 gallons of naphthenic oil HS27101999 were imported by Mexican companies, predominantly from the US, Canada and Germany. On the other hand, Mexico exports of naphthenic oil amounted to 273,628,084 gallons in 2015. Clearly, Mexico is producing dielectric oil for the export market and some distributors and users prefer to purchase foreign brands as depicted by imports figures above.

Base grade naphthenic mineral oil is used in the electric, rubber and cement industries in Mexico. For the purpose of this note, I will concentrate in its use in the electric industry.

For its dielectric properties, high thermal conductivity, low specific gravity, low freezing temperature, etc., naphthenic oil is widely used in power transformers.

When it comes to assuring the proper conditions of dielectric oil in transformers, contractors perform a number of complex tests to certify whether the oil needs change or is good for another term. Most any electrical contractor has ways to either dispose of or source reconditioned naphthenic oil directly from their foreign suppliers.

Mexican authorities have set stringent regulations for the disposal of dielectric oils and it is sometimes easier to process it to reestablish its properties and make it suitable for reuse. Basically, they undergo a check for BPCs, filtration process to discard water and other impurities thus restoring its dielectric strength ( following NMX-J-308 and NOM-133-ECOL by Mexican normative). Dielectric oil is considered hazardous waste and is has to be disposed of following strict regulations and procedures by approved companies (see list of approved providers http://www.semarnat.gob.mx/transparencia/transparencia-focalizada/residuos/empresas-autorizadas-para-el-manejo-de-residuos).

As it was mentioned above, reconditioning is very rarely made by the contractor for their own reuse. Even though, there are companies that collect industrial oil, clean and resell. A simple google search reveals companies such as Servelec, IMASA, IEESA, Tecnoil, among others (search keywords=aceite dielectrico reacondicionado).  Reconditioned oil is definitely a cost effective solution for as long as the oil can be recycled while keeping the ideal properties. However, the number of companies selling new dielectric oil is large and they are scattered all over Mexico. PEMEX, the larger oil company in Mexico produces dielectric oil through one of its subsidiaries, Mexicana de Lubricantes SA de CV; other brand in this market is produced by Texas Refinery Corp., and exported to Mexico (Volt-N). Distributors of industrial oils sell Mobil UNIVOLT and Shell Diala; these are actually the most common brands for this use.

Selling in Mexico
Any foreign company offering reconditioned oil for electrical purpose that can deliver PCB free and high purity dielectric oil may have substantial market opportunities in the Mexican market. However, based in the statistical information above, Mexican users of these naphthenic oil prefer premium grade oil and, therefore, should exercise caution in selecting the right market or industry segment. Our opinion is that the exporter should connect with the different associations of electrical contractors or electrical maintenance companies which may be active and continued users. Those foreign companies looking for a Mexican representative or distributor may as well contact the above and any other lubricant dealer in the area of interest.

Need technical knowleadge? http://www.brettis.com/Tutorial/08Transformadores.pdf






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