Asia Base Oil Price Report


The celebration of the Lunar New Year dampened industry activity in several Asian nations this week, with trading in the key market of China notoriously muted. Even the lead-up to the holidays had yielded little fresh business as base oil prices had been mixed and buyers decided to delay purchases in hopes for lower values after their return from the festivities.

Crude oil and feedstock futures also failed to provide a good measure of where prices might be headed, as values remained rather volatile, swayed by socioeconomic forces along with supply and demand expectations.

Get alerts when new Sustainability Blog articles are available.


Earlier this week, Brent and West Texas Intermediate crude futures hit their highest levels since early December on optimistic prospects about an oil demand recovery from top oil importer China following the country’s lifting of COVID lockdowns. Refining margins hit a three-month high on Tuesday as unplanned refinery outages caused by severe storms along the United States Gulf Coast placed pressure on snug fuel supplies.

Crude futures traded within a narrow range on Wednesday and Thursday this week after data showed a smaller-than-anticipated build in U.S. crude inventories, offsetting weak economic reports from earlier in the week. Investors were also waiting for results of an OPEC+ meeting on Feb. 1 and the upcoming European Union ban on Russian refined products.

On Jan. 26, Brent March futures were trading at $86.34 per barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, up from $84.29/bbl on Jan. 19.

Dubai front month crude oil (Platts) financial futures for February settled at $83.02/bbl on the CME on Jan. 25, compared to $81.82/bbl on Jan. 18.

One factor that may be impacting refiners’ decisions moving forward is the global availability of gasoil and diesel. The EU declared an embargo on Russian fuel imports from Feb. 5, and Russia is currently the EU’s biggest supplier of fuels, especially diesel, according to This means that there will likely be a shortage of these refined products, as the U.S. will not be able to step in and help the way it helped with LNG deliveries as a replacement for Russian pipeline gas because its own supply of diesel is very tight. Consequently, refiners may favor the production of distillates in detriment to base oil output, particularly if gasoil and diesel prices rise, while the competition among buyers of these feedstocks will intensify.

A majority of refineries in Asia were running at top rates, and this was partly the reason base oil supplies were so plentiful, placing downward pressure on prices. However, a few refiners were heard to be resorting to trimming base oil production to reduce supply and improve margins. A number of turnarounds at plants in Singapore, Indonesia and several units in China are scheduled during the first quarter of the year, and this, together with expectations of a seasonal pickup in demand, might lead to tighter supply.

Activity in China has practically ground to a halt due to the Lunar New Year holidays this week, when millions of people return to their homes in other towns or in the countryside, and businesses and factories close for several days.

Following the Lunar New Year festivities, demand was expected to increase, as base oil stocks were anticipated to have been depleted and blenders start to prepare inventories for the busy spring production cycle. Several domestic base oil plants have been running at reduced rates or shut down temporarily, and some base oils were expected to be tight, particularly the heavy grades, which are chronically short in China.

Several South Korean cargoes were being worked on for shipment to China in early February, including a 5,000-metric ton cargo made up of four grades from Yeosu to Zhenjiang between Feb. 6-10. A 1,600-ton parcel was being discussed for shipment from Onsan to Jingjiang. Another 1,000 tons were mentioned for shipment from Onsan to Zhenjiang. About 16,000 tons were under discussion for lifting in Yeosu to Rugao and Zhenjiang between Feb. 15-25. Additionally, a 4,600-ton lot was mentioned for shipment from Singapore to South and North China in mid-February.

South Korean suppliers were also expected to ship product to various destinations far and wide next month, including a 2,000-ton lot for lifting in Yeosu and Ulsan to Manila, Philippines, in mid-February. and 10,000 tons from a South Korean port to Lagos, Nigeria, in second half February. A small cargo was mentioned for shipment from Onsan to Merak, Indonesia, in early February, along with a second small parcel for shipment to Tanjung Priok, Indonesia. About 10,000 tons were quoted for lifting in Ulsan to the Caribbean in the second half of February as well.

In India, business was somewhat subdued this week given a national holiday on Thursday and a lack of clear price direction. Many buyers remained on the sidelines restricting their purchase volumes in order to avoid the risk of holding high-priced inventories were values to weaken. Domestic supplies were deemed ample and at competitive levels since producers have been able to run refineries on deeply discounted Russian crude oil. This imparted consumers a sense of security that they would be able to procure material on short notice. However, buying interest for competitively priced imports to cover product needs in the near future appeared to have also picked up.

Several import shipments were being worked on, with a number of movements expected from the Middle East because plants have completed turnarounds and there was increased availability for export. About 6,000 tons were anticipated to be lifted in Ruwais, United Arab Emirates, to Mumbai or Kandla and possibly other ports in the second half of February. Close to 16,000 tons were mentioned for shipment from Ras Laffan and/or Sitra, Bahrain, to West Coast India in mid-February.

South Korean suppliers have upped their offer levels into India in hopes of improving margins, and this possibly resulted in weaker buying interest. Around 5,000 tons to 7,000 tons were mentioned for lifting in Yeosu or Ulsan, South Korea, to Mumbai in late February. A 4,000-ton cargo was discussed for shipment from Sri Racha and Rayong, Thailand, to West Coast India and/or Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates, for second half February shipment.

Spot base oil prices in Asia were largely unchanged due to a slowdown in trading and a lack of reported transactions during the Lunar New Year holiday week. The price ranges portrayed below reflect discussions, bids and offers, as well as deals and published prices widely regarded as benchmarks for the region.

Ex-tank Singapore prices were steady week on week. Spot prices for the API Group I solvent neutral 150 grade were assessed at $920/t-$950/t, and the SN500 was unchanged at $1,030/t-$1,070/t. Bright stock was firm at $1,280/t-$1,320/t, all ex-tank Singapore.

Prices for the Group II 150 neutral were assessed at $970/t-$1,010/t, and the 500N was unchanged at $1,000/t-$1,050/t, ex-tank Singapore.

On an FOB Asia basis, Group I SN150 were hovering at $790/t-$830/t, and the SN500 at $820/t-$860/t. Bright stock prices were firmly positioned within a $1,060/t-1,100/t, FOB Asia range.

The Group II 150N was heard at $800/t-$840/t FOB Asia, and the 500N and 600N cuts were steady at $820/t-$850/t, FOB Asia.

In the Group III segment, prices were stable. The 4 cSt was assessed at $1,520-$1,560/t, and the 6 cSt was holding at $1,490/t-$1,530/t. The 8 cSt grade was heard at $1,210-1,250/t, FOB Asia, for fully approved product.

Gabriela Wheeler can be reached directly at 

Lubes’n’Greases 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:

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

Related Topics

Base Oil Pricing Report    Market Topics    Other