Process Oils Introduction

Rubber Process Oil (RPO) is produced by a crude oil distillation process obtained from the composition and chemical interactions and the isolation material extracted called Raffinate. The primary characteristic is the presence of the double bonded mix ring carbon structure. RPOs are known to function as internal lubricants as they facilitate the incorporation of fillers and other additives and function as low-cost extenders.

Recent developments

Restrictions on the use of high poly aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) content oils for tyre manufacturing in some geographies have created an opening for new generation rubber process oils. The increasing concern on the toxicity of highly aromatic oils has acted as an incentive for companies to develop and test more environmentally-friendly rubber process oils (RPOs) as a replacement  of highly aromatic oils.

Market opportunity

According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the rubber process oil market globally is projected to grow from USD 1.85 billion in 2017 to USD 2.33 billion by 2023, at a CAGR of 4.1%, from 2018 to 2023. A major factor driving the market is an increasing demand for rubber products. On the flip side, volatility in raw material prices and unfavourable conditions arising due to the COVID-19 outbreak are hindering the growth of the market.

Rubber process oils are part of a diversified ecosystem of upstream players, which includes raw material suppliers, downstream stakeholders, vendors of rubber process oil, end users, and government organisations. Typically the target audience for these products include:

  •  Traders, distributors, and suppliers of rubber process oil
  • Government and research organisations
  • Associations and industrial bodies
  •  R&D institutions
  • Environment supporting agencies
  • End-use industries such as tyre, tube, Tread Rubber , conveyor/Vbelt, transmission belt, hose pipe, moulded rubber goods, reclaim rubber manufacturers and footwear manufacturers.

rubber processing image


Rubber process oils are broadly classified into the following categories:

  1. Aromatic RPOs are dark in colour and compatible with most rubber polymers. It is extensively used in the manufacturing of automobile tyres, tread rubber, conveyor belts, automotive components and floor mats, etc. where colour of the end product is not important.
  2. Paraffinic are light in colour and have a wide viscosity range, higher aniline and flash point. Paraffinic oils are extensively used in the manufacturing of butyl tubes, EPDM based rubber products such as profiles, hose pipe and automotive components.
  3. Naphthenic generally has good colour stability, solubility and thermal stability. It is extensively used in the manufacturing of foot wear, LPG tubes, hot water bags, moulded and extruded products. It may be used as a Banbury lubricant in the rubber industry.
  4. Low PCA oils are new generation oils that cater to manufacturers of NR, SBR, PBR, Butyl and EPDM based rubber products and meet EU requirements.

Specifically, the benefits to the automobile tyre industry for using RPOs are as follows:

  •  Flexibility in low temperatures
  •  In accordance with international standards (EU 2005/69/EC
  • Export quality tyres to European Union.

Future outlook:

Increasing demand for rubber process oil is expected to offer various opportunities for growth in the market. Rubber process oils from the point of rubber processing applications are also expected to dominate the market. The Asia-Pacific region represents the largest market for RPO and is also expected to be the fastest-growing market.

Why the Asia-Pacific region is expected to dominate the market?

  • The rising demand for rubber process oil from rubber processing and its growing application in the automotive sector in countries like China, Japan and India is expected to drive consumption in this region.
  • Rapid industrialisation in countries like India and China has led to a huge demand for rubber made products in various end-user industries.
  • China has been the world’s largest importer of rubber and the largest consumer of rubber, consuming around 40% of the total global output. India is currently the sixth largest producer of rubber in the world with one of the highest productivity levels.

With its tremendous flexibility, potential for customisation, and shelf-life, the rubber process oil market has a lot to offer to its end users and it is up to companies in the arena  to scale up for greater value add to customers.