EMEA Base Oil Price Report


Base oil markets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa are experiencing pressure from the downturn in economic activity in almost all countries around the globe. The war in Ukraine is generating negative sentiment, and with winter approaching the mood around regions is downcast.

Demand for finished lubricants has slumped and looks likely to fall further before any uptick in trade and commercial activity is predicted.

The economic gloom is being exacerbated by poor fiscal performances from major economies across the globe, from Europe to the United States, China and Japan. The global downturn is being regarded as somewhat of a reset that could lead in the years ahead to lower inflation and economic growth. The world is used to economic cycles, but this one is compounded by war, inflation and climate change, which is not helping steps to recovery.

Base oil trade is subject to the same pressures as other commodities and could take a beating now from falling demand. Sellers are keen to maintain prices as high as possible, whilst those downstream in the market – blenders and end users of finished lubes – are looking to trim costs to the minimum, to maintain business viability and market position.

Refinery run rates have been pared to the minimum, and operators are gearing to maximize distillate output at the expense of derivatives such as base oils and waxes. Sellers are also looking to cover local markets rather than seeking export sales, which were once revered as higher margin trades.

It’s still unclear if the decision by OPEC+ to reduce crude oil output will achieve it’s goal of raising oil prices. Dated deliveries of Brent crude did climb a bit the past week to $93.25 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate was little changed at $84.70/barrel for December front month settlement.

Low-sulfur gas oil values drifted back below $1,100 per metric ton to $1,087 for November front month. All of these prices were obtained from London ICE trading late Oct. 24.


API Group I exports from Europe reappeared this week in the form of a couple cargoes moving to West Africa and South Africa. The problem with European exports is that other regions are showing lower numbers for sales made on FOB bases, often some $200/t-$300 per ton less than mainstream European exports. This is forcing European exporters to re-examine their levels.

Buyers are looking to distant markets rather than pay high prices for European sourced barrels, even in the face of rising freight rates that would normally rule out shipments from Asia-Pacific and U.S. sources. With some suppliers able to undercut European FOB levels, alternative sourcing is being used to negotiate and pull back European offers, compensating for the higher freight rates.  

Some say it would be preferable for European Group I output to stay within the region. This may be a kneejerk reaction to higher prices but may also set the course for the future of European Group I production, much of which has been under pressure from increased fuels output and the relatively high costs of maintaining separate base oil lines.

Potential export prices for solvent neutral150 are nudged lower to between $995/t and $1,055/t, while SN500 is at $1,085/t/t-$1,120/t and bright stock offered at $1,185/t/t-$1,250/t, all on an FOB basis.

Prices on Group I sales within Europe have succumbed to pressure being exerted by lower export prices, along with more than adequate availability of all grades from almost every source around Europe. Trade within the region is also being affected by prices outside of it. For example, Turkish blenders are able to undercut Northwestern European manufacturers by using lower cost base oils from Russian suppliers and cheaper additives that are available in that region.

Buyers are still reticent to purchase large quantities of Group I since they are watching to see if prices dip further. Some buyers are coming together in cooperatives to purchase larger parcels from more than one supplier – an enterprising approach that could expand to other areas.

The exchange rate continues to be a problem for sellers, who have to stoke euro prices just to cover devaluation against the dollar. Buyers are unwilling to accept any increases in light of weaker feedstock numbers and lower demand.

The differential between prices for Group I exports and sales within Europe narrowed this week and is now assessed at €55/t-€110/t, exports being lower.

Group II base oil prices continue trending downward, often with Group I numbers being quoted as a reference point. What was once a snug market has tuned flush and is on the verge of being long in supply.

Many players are stating that use of this grade may have reached saturation point within Europe, with blending operations wanting to switch procurement from Group I already having established their inventories.

Prices for Group II oils dropped the past week to $1,425/t-$1,495/t (€1,445/t-€1,515/t) for 100 neutral, 150N and 220N and 600N at $1,585/t-$1,655/t (€1,605/t-€1,677/t). These prices apply to a range of Group II oils from Europe, the U.S., Asia-Pacific and the Middle East Gulf.

Group III values moved downwards as a result of lower demand and rising stocks being held by distributors – just a couple of months after stocks were close to exhausted. This turnaround in the market may be short-lived since sellers are suggesting that demand for Group III grades could start to rise again early next year when new formulations for the latest specifications of engine oils come to the market. Group III base oils will play an important part in the blending of the latest engine oils.

However, others suggest that the trend toward electric vehicles could cause Group III demand to wane beginning in 2025.

Prices Group III oils with partial slates of finished lubricant approvals will drop from Nov. 1, to €1,780/t-€1,795 for 4 and 6 centiStoke grades and to €1,755/t-€1,875/t for 8 cSt, all on an FCA basis ex Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam and Northwestern Europe.

Group III oils with full slates of approvals are also lower at €1,825/t-€1,875/t for 4 cSt and at €1,840/t-€1,785/t for 6 and 8 cSt.

Baltic and Black Seas

Baltic Sea cargoes made a comeback this week, with four large possible cargoes coming out of the region. Two parcels are expected to load out of Kaliningrad, both destined for Gebze port. The first is a large 10,000-ton cargo, while the second is a smaller 3,000-ton parcel, both of which will load during the first 10- days of November. Two other enquiries are on the shipping market – one for a further 10,000 tons out of Riga for receivers in Gebze, and another of up to 10,000 tons of Russian export barrels to move to Lagos. The total of around 40,000 tons of Russian exports is the largest quantity noted for some time leaving the Baltic region. The reasons behind the Baltic cargoes going into Turkey are not clarified as yet. It would be considered prudent for these cargoes to load out of Volgograd refinery and be delivered through the Black Sea.

These are the first cargoes for some time to be seen coming out of Svetly terminal in Kaliningrad.

No new cargoes are identified loading out of the southern Baltic from Gdansk refinery, although more parcels appear to be lined up for November. Buyers along the east coast of the United Kingdom and near continent have opted to take material from Gdansk rather than import Russian base oils from Riga. It would appear that Russian exports into Europe and the U.K. have ceased completely, although contracted barrels can be delivered into European Union ports up until Feb. 23 as part of contracted sales.

As an indication, SN 150 is priced at $985/t-$1,045/t, with SN 500 at $1,080/t-$1,110/t. The price levels for the two grades loading FOB from Riga are assessed at $875/t-$895/t for SN 150, with SN 500 at $895/t-$935/t.

Black Sea reports fewer cargoes coming out of Baltic activity is a much-reduced part of the base oil scene, although one cargo has been identified this week, moving out of Riga port with 2,800 tons of Russian export base oil grades, going into Dordrecht. This cargo may be one of the contracted arrangements that are permitted to continue until February of next year.

However, no cargo movements were seen coming out of Svetly terminal in Kaliningrad, and efforts to establish the reasons behind the absence of product moving from this base were not successful to date. Lithuanian sources confirm that trains carrying petroleum products are still transiting through that country in route to Kaliningrad, but whether these trains are conveying base oils for onward shipment is unclear. The same company, Lukoil, continues to export Russian export barrels to deep-sea locations through Black Sea operations.

Gdansk continues to load Group l cargoes, with one smaller parcel of 1,500 tons, which was loaded at the beginning of October for receivers in Turkey. This is a small cargo to move with freight rates being high, but the vessel involved is a Turkish flagged ship, perhaps trying to return to domestic waters. Therefore, it is perhaps offering a rock-bottom freight rate to take this parcel to Marmara rather than ballast back, with the associated voyage costs.

FOB Baltic prices take account of Gdansk loadings in Poland. FOB prices for this port are placed in line with European mainland levels and are maintained in line with those numbers. As indications, only SN 150 is estimated at $1,035/t-$1,065/t, with SN 500 at $1,125/t-$1,160/t. The prices levels for the two grades loaded out of Riga and assessed on an FOB basis to be at $895/t-$935/t, in respect of SN 150, with SN 500 at $925/t-$970/t.

Black Sea reports contain fewer cargoes from Volgograd refinery coming out across the Black Sea into Limas terminal in Turkey. Activity appears to be centered on Baltic loadings, with vessels chartered to take material from Svetly and Riga terminals to Gebze port in Turkey. Prices CIF Gebze are assessed at $945/t-$980/t for SN 150, with SN 500 at $1,025/t-$1,065/t.

Tupras are offering base oils from Izmir refinery, but prices are very high, with no reported sales in trucks. The material is still priced at around $1,425/t-$1,480/t for the SN 100 and SN 150 grades, while SN 500 is placed at around $1,560/t-$1,595/t. Bright stock is offered at $1,720/t-$1,755/t. Should the stocks not be sold ex rack, there may follow a tender for the barrels to be loaded from storage in Aliaga. The quantity for the tender may be at 5,000-8,000 tons in total, with either three or four grades of base oil tendered.

The U.S. Gulf cargo identified as an inquiry for Gebze last week does not appear to have manifested itself. The quantity of 2,500 tons may be too small for the freight. 

Group III base oils are delivered into Turkish storage from Cartagena in Spain in parcels at 750-2,000 tons. These quantities are then resold on an FCA basis before replenishment cargoes are commissioned.

Imported Group II prices ex-tank are assessed at €1,755/t-€1,800/t for the three lower vis products, with 600N at €1,825/t-€1,870/t.

Group III base oils sold on an FCA basis for partly approved grades are lower and are at €1,845/t-€1,900/t. Fully approved Group III grades from Cartagena in Spain are sold FCA at around €1,925/t-€1,960/t.

Middle East

Red Sea shipping reports suggest fewer cargoes were organized for October and November, with only one parcel at 3,500-4,500 tons identified from the west coast of India. There may be other parcels being worked for the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, although the recent bad weather in the latter country has curtailed a number of cargoes moving into the region,

The Middle East Gulf lists a number of base oil cargoes of Group I and Group II base oils coming into the U.A.E. from suppliers Thailand and Singapore. A cargo of around 10,000 tons of Russian export barrels is being assessed by buyers in the U.A.E. This will load either from Limas terminal in Turkey or from Svetly terminal in Kaliningrad. CIF Prices are estimated at around $945/t-$985/t for the SN 150 and $995/t-$1,045/t for SN 500. This is based on a cargo of 10,000 tons.

Group III exports from the Middle East Gulf are the main activity for base oils moving out of the Middle East Gulf. One cargo is noted loading out of Al Ruwais, with three port discharges in India, with a total of 10,000 tons of Group III base oils. The vessel will first call at Mumbai anchorage, then Chennai, and the final destination will be Kolkata.

Ras Laffan continues to load large cargoes for Shell affiliates worldwide. Cargoes can be anything from 20,000 tons up to 55,000 tons, one of which was recently seen moving to the U.S. Gulf Coast from Qatar.

Netbacks for Group III base oils out of Al Ruwais and Sitra are taken slightly lower, while selling prices in Europe may be drifting lower. Netbacks are assessed at $1,745/t-$1,785/t, for the range of 4 centiStoke, 6 cSt and 8 cSt partly-approved Group III base oils.

Netback levels are based on local prices derived and assessed from regional selling levels, less marketing, handling and estimated freight costs.

Group II base oils on a FCA basis in the U.A.E. are sourced from European, U.S, Asia-Pacific and Red Sea suppliers, and are resold ex-tank, or on a truck delivered basis within the U.A.E. Prices are maintained with levels at $1,715/t-$1,785/t for the light vis grades, with 500N and 600N at $1,845/t-$1,915/t.


After the recent spate of South African cargoes going into Durban and Mombasa. there are no new parcels identified this week.

West African trade reports a combination cargo going into Conakry, Tema and Abidjan. This cargo of some 10,500 tons will load from a major who holds the Ghana contract, which requires around 5,000 tons of three Group I grades to be delivered into Tema port every couple of months. The balance of the cargo will go into regular receivers in Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.

Nigeria is recovering after the flooding in that country caused untold of damage to property and livelihoods. Deliveries of base oils from storage in Apapa were delayed and some roads were washed away, stranding people and vehicles. The clear-up has been underway for the last ten days, with business and trade gradually returning to normal.

One cargo was noted last week to be coming out of Rotterdam and Fawley, carrying 10,000 tons of Group I grades for Apapa. The vessel loaded directly for a major who will deliver on a direct basis. No traders were involved in the selling of this cargo. The cargo will be taken in by a local Nigerian trader who recently bought the business from another third party.

CFR levels for base oils offered into Apapa remain as per last, with indications around $1,255/t for quantities of SN 150, SN 500 at around $1,300/t, and SN 900 at $1,345/t. As an indication, only bright stock could be landed at around $1,440/t C&F Apapa.

Ray Masson is director of Pumacrown Ltd., a trader and broker of petroleum products in London, U.K. Contact him directly at pumacrown@email.com.

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

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

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