U.S. Base Oil Price Report

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ExxonMobil, Calumet, Excel Paralubes, HollyFrontier and Petro-Canada have joined Motiva and Chevron in communicating posted price increases for paraffinic base oils. On the naphthenics front, recently announced markups were implemented and a couple of turnarounds have tightened supplies.

According to reports, ExxonMobil raised its base oil posted prices on Feb. 18, with the company’s API Group I SN115 and SN150 increasing by 30 cents per gallon, its SN330 also moving up by 30 cents/gal, and its SN600 edging up by 20 cents/gal. The company’s bright stock was lifted by 20 cents/gal. ExxonMobil’s Group II EHC120 went up by 35 cents/gal and its Group II+ EHC65 also increased by 35 cents/gal.

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Calumet informed customers that the producer would be lifting the posted price of its paraffinic base oils, with an effective date of February 23. The price of the company’s Group I Calpar 600 will be raised by 25 cents/gal and its Calpar 2500 (bright stock) by 20 cents/gal. The producer’s Group II Calpar 75/80, 100 and 150 base oils will go up by 20 cents/gal, while its Calpar 325 will increase by 35 cents/gal.

Excel Paralubes communicated posted price increases that went into effect on Feb. 21. The company’s Group II Pure Performance 70N and 110N grades moved up by 27 cents/gal and its 225N cut edged up by 26 cents/gal. The producer’s Group II 600N base oil was raised by 25 cents/gal.ZjQcmQRYFpfptBannerEnd

HollyFrontier will be increasing its Group I posted prices on Feb. 23. The company’s SN70 through SN400 grades will be lifted by 30 cents/gal and its SN525 and bright stock by 20 cents/gal.

Likewise, Petro-Canada’s posted prices will be adjusted up on the same date, with the Group II 70N going up by 30 cents/gal, its 100N by 20 cents/gal, and its 200N, 350N, and 600N grades moving up by 30 cents/gal. The producer’s Group II+ grades will be edging up by 35 cents/gal; its Group III 4cSt cut will be raised by 35 cents/gal and its Group III 6 cSt and 8 cSt grades by 20 cents/gal.

Paulsboro was expected to increase prices this week as well, following ExxonMobil’s markups, but no confirmation was received by the publishing deadline.

Last week, Motiva and Chevron had stepped out with posted price increases as well. Motiva raised its Group II and Group III postings by 20, 25 and 35 cents/gal, depending on the grade, effective Feb. 15, while Chevron communicated markups of 15 and 20 cents/gal which went into effect on Feb. 15 as well.

The price increases were triggered by climbing crude oil and feedstock prices over the last several weeks amid tightening market conditions for some grades, with the light-viscosity cuts in particular falling under this category. Several export shipments have helped base stock producers achieve more balanced supply positions, while refineries have favored fuel output over base stocks given market economics, leading to decreased availability of the lighter grades.

A couple of large base oil cargoes have been booked for shipment from the U.S. Gulf to India and Africa this month as reported last week, and very few barrels remained on offer for additional export business. While there continued to be appetite for U.S. product from Mexican buyers, spot prices were deemed less attractive than those attainable for domestic business, and there were plentiful supplies in Brownsville to meet immediate product needs, sources explained.

Group III supplies appeared more balanced, with most suppliers focusing on meeting contractual requirements, although some competitive situations have emerged on the spot front as a result of relatively new market participants seeking to secure market share.

Domestic demand in general has been less vibrant that expected, but suppliers hoped to see a seasonal pickup in requirements over the next couple of weeks. Cold weather conditions in large swaths of the United States during the last two weeks, together with additive shortages – which have forced some blenders to decrease production rates – have resulted in lukewarm base oil buying interest.

Given some of the difficulties that blenders have been facing in recent weeks caused by raw material shortages and other supply chain disruptions, some base oil consumers have requested a delayed implementation of the posted price increases, according to sources.

On the naphthenic base oils side, producers implemented 25 cents/gal price increases for all naphthenic oils between Feb. 8 and Feb. 11, similarly driven by steep crude oil and feedstock costs and a snug supply/demand scenario. A number of turnarounds were partly to blame for the tighter supply conditions.

Valero’s naphthenic base oils plant in Three Rivers, Texas, was reported to have shut down on Jan. 30 for a turnaround, which was expected to last two to three weeks. The plant was anticipated to resume production this week, although a restart could not be confirmed, and can produce 2,400 b/d of naphthenic base oils, according to Lubes’n’Greases’ Base Oils Plant Data.

San Joaquin started a turnaround at its Bakersfield, California, refinery on Feb. 12. The unit, which has a nameplate capacity to produce 8,100 barrels per day of naphthenic base oils, will be restarted around March 5.

Cross Oil slated a short turnaround at its Smackover, Arkansas, refinery in March. The producer will be taking the crude unit and vacuum tower down for a few days, but will continue to run the hydrotreater. Base oil availability should not be impacted, the company said. The base oil plant at the site has a capacity of 5,000 b/d of naphthenic base oils.

In downstream finished lubricants and grease segments, there continued to be reports about a lack of certain raw materials that have hampered the running of manufacturing facilities at full rates. In particular, the persistent additive shortage has led to reduced output of automotive and industrial lubricants.

Additional lubricant producers have announced increases of up to 18% on finished lubricants to be implemented between March 1 and March 18. These announcements come on the heels of previous initiatives of up to 16% hikes for implementation between December 2021 and February 2022. Suppliers explained that the increases were in response to steeper raw materials costs—particularly base oils and additives—as well as other expenses such as freight, labor and packaging.

Two major additive producers had previously announced that they would be increasing prices by 15% on Jan. 31 and Feb. 21, respectively.

Upstream, crude oil futures rose to their highest levels since 2014 on Tuesday after Moscow sent troops into two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, fueling concerns about a full-blown Russian invasion of the country. Germany has put the certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia on hold for the time being, while the United States and European Union started to implement sanctions on Russia as well.

On Feb. 22, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) March futures settled at $92.35/barrel, compared to $92.07/barrel on Feb. 15.

Brent futures for April delivery settled at $96.84/barrel on the CME on Feb. 22, from $93.28/bbl on Feb. 15.

Louisiana Light Sweet crude wholesale spot prices were hovering at $93.56/barrel on Feb. 18 (there was no trading on Feb. 21 due to the President’s Day holiday) and had settled at $97.97/bbl on Feb. 14, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Gabriela Wheeler can be reached directly at gabriela@LubesnGreases.com.

Lubes’n’Greases Publications shall not be liable for commercial decisions based on the contents of this report.

Archived base oil price reports can be found through this link: https://www.lubesngreases.com/category/base-stocks/other/base-oil-pricing-report/

Historic and current base oil pricing data are available for purchase in Excel format.