EMEA Base Oil Price Report


The economy is a growing concern for base oil markets throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa as the stubbornness of inflation is raising concerns that interest rates will keep rising and become an even bigger drag on demand for finished lubricants – and therefore base oils.

In a number of countries throughout the regions, rates are already starting to stifle economic activity, tamping down demand for a wide range of products, including lubes.

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This downturn in demand has prevented blenders from buying large quantities of base oils to replace inventories which are at their lowest for many years. Even with availabilities relatively snug, base oil buyers are unwilling to commit to major purchases without the knowledge that demand will return in the near future.

There are signs that supply surpluses from early this year are shrinking, and looming maintenance shutdowns at several plants could start to further tighten supply of API Group I and Group II oils. Theoretically, this could promote stronger buying interest, but industry sources have pointed out that quantities of categories are still freely available. Therefore, they said, there is no urgency now to commit to large purchases.

There are forecasts that demand will start to rise seasonally towards the end of the first quarter, but every day that passes reflects buyers’ reluctance to make serious moves to buy base oils in quantity.

From a supply viewpoint, diesel prices remain high relative to crude, which is still incentivizing refiners to divert feedstocks to production of distillate fuels instead of base oils and other specialties such as wax and bitumen. There is still a surplus of base oils however, and the longer this situation continues, the longer buyers will sit on the fence, confident that they will be able to cover all requirements at will.

Crude oil prices weakened over the past week, with markets relaxed in the knowledge that production will cover demand, at least in the short term. The key to crude markets is China and the impact that its return to “normality” has on crude demand. This will only become clear over the next few months.

Dated deliveries of Brent crude fell to $82.80 per barrel, now for May front month settlement, around $2 lower than last reported. West Texas Intermediate dropped around $3 to $75.40/bbl, for April front month, widening the crack between the benchmarks to around $7.

Low-sulfur gas oil also weakened over the past few days, and is reported at $810 per metric ton, now for April front month. This price level is around $50/t lower than last week. All of these prices were obtained from London ICE trading late March 13.


The scene for Group I exports from Europe was little changed this week, with few instances of deals being confirmed for true export sales. There have been a number of large cargoes perpetrated by majors rebalancing stocks across hubs in Europe and beyond, The Nigerian market remains problematic for traders with financial problems continuing to prevent clean deals being done with regular receivers.

Prices remain at levels reached during the first few days of March. Inquiries are few for genuine export deals. There are a number of cargoes reported for Turkish receivers looking for higher quality base oils than is produced within the country. Russian imports continue, however, with one large cargo of 11,000 tons reported loading out of Kaliningrad, Russia, for receivers in Gebze, Turkey.

Prices are unchanged between $935 per ton and $955/t for solvent neutral, $960/t-$1,000/t for SN500 and $1,095/t-$1,140/t for bright stock.

Group I trade within Europe remains slow, with many buyers waiting before committing to purchasing large quantities of base stocks. Some blenders are commenting that there remains ample availability for Group I grades, despite the banning of Russian oils from the European Union and allied markets since early February.

Maintenance turnarounds are about to commence at a number of refineries over the next few weeks, and this may cut into the existing length of supply, but no panic buttons are being hit as yet.

Prices are at €1,090/t-€1,130/t for SN150, €1,145/t-€1,185/t for SN500 and around €1,400/t for bright stock. The euro rose slightly in value against the United States dollar, posting on Monday at $1.07216. The differential between export sales and Group I trade within the region was unchanged at €120/t-€210/t, export prices being the lower.

Group II suppliers in Europe have completed the round of markdowns reported the past couple weeks. Buyers would like more movement in the same direction, but it is not clear if the market will support that.

Prices for Group III oils are causing an interesting dilemma in for the Group II segment.

Strong prices in the former category have stretched the differential between the two to its greatest margin ever – around €1,000/t. Some players are suggesting that Group III values will have to decrease, but allocations in that segment have led to an exceptionally tight supply scene, pressuring Group III prices in the opposite direction.

Group II are unchanged at $1,045/t-$1,050/t (€990/t-€1,000/t) for 100 neutral, 150N and 220N and at $1,270/t-$1,290/t (€1,200/t-€1,220/t) for 600N. These numbers apply to a broad range of Group II oils from Europe, the U.S., Asia-Pacific and Red Sea sources, supplied either in bulk or in flexi-tanks.

European Group III trade remains tight even with a number of large cargoes arriving from the Middle East Gulf. There are few supply options available to increase quantities of Group III base stocks coming on to the European market, and with allocation programs for oils that have and had full slates of finished lubricant approvals, buyers are being limited to purchasing 50%-80% of amounts bought during the comparative period from last year.

A new 9,000 ton parcel is being arranged out of Sitra, Bahrain, to load in early April for Rotterdam under the auspices of Stasco. This is in addition to two other cargoes bringing a combined 20,000 tons of grades with partial slates of approvals out of the Middle East Gulf to Northwestern Europe. Trans-shipments continue into a Rotterdam hub from Cartagena, Spain.

There may be some hope for new quantities hitting the European market as Asia-Pacific sellers are testing the lucrative European markets with 4 centiStoke material heard to be offered around €1,850/t.

However, despite these further insurgences, the European Group III markets remain exceptionally tight, no longer being balanced, with an increasing supply shortfall, particularly for grades carrying full approvals of European automakers.

The delta between Group III and II prices is wide, but there appears to be no downward pressure on the former, so the situation may continue for some time. Few complaints on pricing are being heard around the market as most buyers are pleased to receive whatever allocation they are given.

Prices for Group III oils with partial slates of approvals are unchanged at €1,780/t-€1,850/t for 4 and 6 cSt and 8 cSt material slightly lower at €1,765/t-€1,785/t due to relatively weak demand for this grade within Europe. These prices are on an FCA basis ex Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam or Northwestern Europe.

Fully-approved Group IIIs are at €2,000/t-€2,025/t for 4 and 6 cSt and at €1,945/t-€1,975/t for 8 cSt. These prices also refer to FCA sales from hubs in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam and Northwestern Europe, along with ex refinery sales from Spain.

Baltic and Black Seas

Baltic trade is confined to one large cargo of 11,000 tons loading out of Svetly terminal in Kaliningrad for Turkish receivers in Gebze port. This is the latest of a number of parcels sourced out of the north rather than from Volgograd refinery, which is owned by the same seller, Lukoil. Russian export grades are also offered to receivers in the west coast of India and the United Arab Emirates. Logistics are a negative for delivering material from the Baltic to India and the U.A.E. Also, voyage times are long, with the lengthy time taken to deliver tying up buyers’ capital for too long. Other sources for Group I base oils also have the edge when it comes to chartering a vessel, with a ban on European flagged vessels. Additionally, the provision of banking and insurance are part of the G7 and European Union sanctions against Russia. 

Latin American and South American base oil markets are having difficulties covering all requirements for Group I base stocks, which traditionally were sourced from the United States. That source is losing ability to supply requirements, as Group I production is being run down. This may present an opportunity for Russian sellers, such as Lukoil, who are looking to develop new outlets for Russian export barrels. Whether Russian specifications can meet requirements may be a problem, but with very low prices and a surplus of product, this could be an outlet for base oils from Perm and Volgograd refineries loading out of Kaliningrad and Azov.

FOB prices from Svetly for SN 150 are indicated at $685/t-$735/t, with SN 500 at $755/t-$785/t. Prices were pitched at lower levels than typical European mainstream numbers, but this is no longer the case. Each deal is offered at prices that are heavily discounted merely to move the base oils from refinery to customer. Prices appear to be very flexible on a delivered basis. 

FOB prices for Group I material from PK Orlen ex Gdansk refinery are aligned with European mainstream pricing. SN 150 is assessed at $940/t-$965/t, with SN 500 at $965/t-$1,010/t, depending on destination. Bright stock is assessed at $1,100/t-$1,155/t. There will be availability of some material in the second half of March.

In the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean regions Turkish buyers are looking to MOH and Eni for supplies of higher quality Group I than the material being imported from Russia. There will be requirements for higher specification base oils to be used in blends for a number of finished products. However, Russian Group I base oils will continue to be imported into Turkey. Sources informed this report last week that Turkey cannot take more Russian barrels than currently being imported. Russian solvent neutrals have typically lower viscosity index and are darker in color, and there are very few availabilities of a good quality bright stock.

The cargo of 11,000 tons from Svetly is loading next week, going into Gebze. Other parcels are being considered from the Baltic rather than from Black Sea, perhaps mainly due to the Volga River being un-navigable at this time of year due to ice. Trains carrying around 3,000 tons per trip are still running through Lithuania and into Kaliningrad to supply base oils to Svetly terminal. 

Further Group I cargoes are being considered out of Livorno and Aghio. A new cargo of around 5,000 tons may load out of Aghio, while another parcel from Livorno is being looked at for the end of March.

Imports from Livorno and Aghio have delivered prices heard at around $975/t-$1,000/t for quantities of SN 150, with SN 500 and 600 at $1,000/t-$1,045/t on a CIF basis. Bright stock may be included from Livorno at a price around $1,175/t CIF Gebze or Derince. 

The long-awaited announcement from Tupras was heard last week, with production restarting with availabilities of the various grades from March 11. The refinery at Izmir will continue to produce spindle oil, SN 150, SN 500 and bright stock. Prices for new material that will be made available this week are in Turkish lira, with dollar equivalent numbers at $915/t for the spindle grade – equivalent to an SN 80 – $1,060/t for SN 500, and bright stock at $1,270/t. Prices are based on FCA sales.

In the East Mediterranean region, a cargo of 3,000 tons will go into Ashdod port in Israel. The cargo was loaded out of the U.S. Gulf at the beginning of March, but it is not verified if the parcel is made up of Group I or Group II base oils. It is suspected that this could be a Group II cargo.

Group II sold ex-tank has prices maintained and are assessed at €1,285/t-€1,365/t for the three lower vis products – 100N, 150N and 220N – with 600N at €1,490/t-€1,535/t. Supplies of Group II grades can arrive from the Red Sea, the U.S., South Korea and Rotterdam or Valencia.

Group III partly-approved base oils, sold on an FCA basis, are assessed at €1,865/t-€1,900/t. Fully-approved Group III grades delivered into Gemlik from Cartagena in Spain are expected to be priced at around €2,250/t-$2,300/t FCA.

Middle East

Red Sea reports contain news of a large cargo loading out of both Yanbu and Jeddah discharging in Hamriyah in the United Arab Emirates. The cargo will be comprised of both Group I and Group II grades and will total some 18,000 tons in all. Other destinations are many, with material coming out of Yanbu and Jeddah – 10,000 tons for South Africa, 18,500 tons for the west coast of India. Additionally, smaller parcels will load for Egypt, Singapore and Sudan during the second half of March. A number of cargoes will be combination parcels with Group I and Group II base oils.

In the Middle East Gulf, cargoes from Singapore and Rayong in Thailand are bound for Ras al Khaimah and Hamriyah. These are smaller cargoes of 2,000-3,000 tons each, with Group I material coming out of Rayong and Group II base oils from Singapore.

Group III parcels from Sitra and Al Ruwais are noted this week, with two cargoes loading out of Sitra with 7,600 tons for the U.S. market. The other Bahrain cargo will load at the beginning of April for Stasco and will discharge in Rotterdam. Part of this parcel may then be resold through traders into the U.K. market. One parcel of 7,000 tons will load out of Al Ruwais for distribution in mainland China, discharging in Nantong.

Indian refiners that are purchasing large quantities of discounted Russian Urals crude at extremely low prices, considered to be around $40 per barrel, are producing more base oils than normal. These base stocks are exported because they are surplus to domestic Indian requirements, with a number of exports into the U.A.E. noted, from Haldia and Chennai refineries. This is a reversal of the usual trading flows, and the material will be higher specification than Russian material, which is being offered from the Black Sea and Baltic. The material is keenly priced, being more attractive to receivers than alternative Group I supplies from either the United States or Europe. The voyage times are shorter, enabling receivers to free up capital that otherwise would be tied up for weeks, with cargoes coming from the Baltic and Black Seas.

Prices heard CIF UAE are around $885/t for SN 150, SN 500 at $905/t and bright stock at $1,080/t.

Lukoil offers from Kaliningrad are in combination with other offers from Limas terminal in Turkey.

The second ExxonMobil cargo of 12,000 tons is topping-off in Augusta, Sicily with Group I base oils. The vessel will call at Yanbu, then discharge in Jebel Ali. Group I and Group II grades will be on board.

Group III netbacks for partly-approved and non-approved base oils loading out of Al Ruwais and Sitra are once again maintained this week. Netback returns are assessed at $1,745/t-$1,795/t for the range of 4 centiStoke, 6cSt and 8 cSt partly-approved Group III base oils.

Netback levels are based on local FCA prices in markets such as Europe, India, U.S., and China. Netback levels are derived from regional selling prices, less marketing, margins, handling and estimated freight costs.

Group II base oils sold on an FCA basis in the U.A.E. can be sourced out of European, U.S, Asia-Pacific and Red Sea producers. These grades are available ex-tank U.A.E., or on a truck-delivered basis within the U.A.E and Oman. Prices remain unchanged with levels at $1,420/t-$1.465/t for the light vis grades, with 600N at $1,495/t-$1,535/t. The high ends of the ranges refer to road tank wagon-delivered base oils.


South African shipping sources confirmed that the large cargo for 15,000 tons of Group I, Group II and Group III grades completed loading from Rotterdam and Fawley some 10 days ago before sailing for Durban.

West Africa, and specifically Nigeria, continues to experience finance problems, with some of the receivers prepared to wait for the Central Bank of Nigeria to access dollars before committing to taking a cargo from traders. This is causing delays and uncertainties, further complicating doing business in Nigeria.

Sources said that in some cases they have had to resort to accepting payments in naira and then converting the local currency to dollars on the black market. One problem is the differential between the parallel market rate and the CBN rate.

Another large cargo of up to 20,000 tons has seen offers into Nigeria and perhaps Luanda, but this mid-April cargo is still encountering problems with finance. The cargo may discharge in Onne port in Nigeria and may two-port discharge, with a balance quantity going into Luanda in Angola.

There are two very different sets of pricing ideas – some traders are offering exceptionally low numbers, which will be ultimately based on prices index linked to a weekly report. That in itself is a gamble because prices can move, and firm offered numbers may not be achievable with changing FOB rates.

CFR prices contained in offers for European material, possibly sourced from the Mediterranean, are heard at around $910/t for SN 150, SN 500 at around $990/t, and SN 900 is priced at around $1,050/t. These levels are considered to be very low and may be unrealistic to achieve.

Realistic prices are taken higher, with CFR levels for base oils discharging in Nigerian ports, given as indications only. Levels are confirmed at $1,010/t-$1,020/t for SN 150, SN 500 at around $1,050/t-$1,060/t and SN 900 at $1,130/t-$1,145/t. Bright stock is estimated at around $1,255/t CFR Apapa. Bright stock may form part of the cargo from Rotterdam and Fawley.

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.

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.

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