TL;DRThere should be a second, probably more wasteful, recipe for lubricant than just 10 Heavy Oil as it is the only fluid based recipe that requires you to produce "waste" products along with it.
What ?I think that the current way lubricant is being produced is somewhat of a flaw in the otherwise perfectly balanced fluid system the game presents.
Not to say the recipe itself should change but there should be an alternative even if said alternative is clearly more wasteful. Like maybe using raw Crude Oil itself somehow?
I'm not really about HOW the alternate recipe should look like but just the fact that there should be one.
Reading this, your first thought is probably that I'm just bad at handling my fluids but I'd argue that the flaw is not with me here.
Refineries work in such a way that they ALWAYS produce Heavy Oil, Light Oil and Petroleum Gas, just in different ratios. This, in my humble opinion is an ingenious idea as it forces you to build increasingly complex fluid systems with pumps, tanks and circuit conditions if you want to get the most out of it as all 3 will stop being produced if one of them if full... and that is also the problem, but ONLY for lubricant.
Lets go through the three of them real quick to illustrate why I think it's a problem, and not just mismanaging of my fluids.
Arguably the most needed of the 3 for plastic and sulfur. If you can't produce petroleum because you've got too much heavy oil? Crack it into light oil. If you can't produce because you've got too much light oil? Crack it into petroleum. The circle closes and you have what you need.
- Light Oil:
The only real purpose of light oil (other than cracking into petroleum) is Solid Fuel, as it is the most efficient to use. So what if you can't produce light oil because you've got too much heavy oil? Crack it into light oil and the circle closes. What if you can't produce because you've got too much petroleum? Use the alternate recipe to create solid fuel using petroleum instead. Once again, the circle closes as you get the end product you wanted to begin with. It's more wasteful but seeing as your initial problem was having too much of it anyway, I see no problem.
- Heavy Oil:
Used to create Lubricant (and cracking). If you can't produce because you have too much light oil or petroleum...
You're done. There is no workaround. No circle to be closed here. Your only option is to start WASTING light oil and petroleum on other (for lubricant irrelevant) productions.
Why ?This, rather unexpectedly, happened to me recently. I was building outposts with nothing else (e.g. no research) going on at the meantime. So I was using tons of blue belts, rails, inserters and so on. After about two hours I noticed, to my surprise, I had run out of lubricant. Turns out I was not using anything else in terms of fluid production. No plastic, sulfur or solid fuel. So my tanks for light oil and petroleum were filled to the brim while heavy oil was emptied out. I just tore down the tanks and replaced them as a quick fix but as I pondered the problem I realized there wasn't really a work around.
Sure, I could produce excess plastic/sulfur/fuel but... I didn't need any. They would just flood my storage chests which just delays the problem as I'd have to place down more and more whenever they fill up.
I didn't want to replace my electric furnaces with stone ones just so I could burn my solid fuel or something.
So, why provide an alternative recipe?
Because you literally can't make lubricant without also making something else... unlike any other fluid based recipe. You can set up an entire oil processing side and only produce plastic. You can setup one that only produces sulfur and one that only produces solid fuel.
But with Lubricant? You cannot produce it without also producing a "waste" product that in no way ties back to what you actually want at the moment.