EMEA Base Oil Price Report


Buying activity is starting to pick up in European, Middle Eastern and African base oil markets following an extremely lean spell when purchasers were almost absent from the market, procuring small quantities only on a “need to buy” basis.

If it continues, markets may be set up for a run on certain grades that could snug up supply-demand balances. This could apply in particular to API Group I base oils, which have been produced in lower quantities than in previous years.

Group II demand also seems to have picked up in all the regions but especially in the Middle East Gulf area. The United Arab Emirates is seeing a large number of cargoes moving from South Korea, many containing large quantities of Group II stocks.

Within Europe, Group III supply remains tight, with allocation programs limiting quantities that buyers may procure. This situation may have a knock-on effect on the availability of some finished lubricants around the main markets later during the summer.

Markets are also feeling impacts of the latest banking crisis that has been developing over the past couple weeks and that has caused casualties in California and Switzerland. These events could cause big disruptions in employment and other aspects of the economy. Base oils are being caught up in the turmoil, spurring forecasts of lower demand and in turn causing operators to become extremely cautious about investments. There could be negative vibes for refinery maintenance with a number of turnarounds starting over the next few weeks.

Investment in Europe has slowed to the point where major economies are in danger of recession, and with few signs of growth, there could be pitfalls in coming months that affect the base oil scene.

The war in Ukraine is also contributing to negative economic feelings, with many players suggesting that the war could drag on for many months if not years, unless there are major changes in Russian leadership – which does not appear to be happening.

Crude oil prices have dropped dramatically the past few days on lowered demand projections and reports that China and India are not lifting crude from usual sources but have become highly dependent on cheap Russian Urals crude, heard to be sold into these major economies at around $40 per barrel. These levels were based on numbers when dated deliveries of Brent crude was in the high $80s, and now with prices collapsing, Russian crudes may have to be priced even lower.

Dated deliveries of Brent crude currently posts at $71.65 per barrel for May front month settlement, around $11 lower than last reported. West Texas Intermediate fell around $10 over the same period to $65.55 per barrel, still for April front month, keeping the crack between the benchmarks at around $6.

Low-sulfur gas oil also fell to $761 per metric ton, also for April front month, its lowest level since January 2022. These prices were gathered from London ICE trading late March 20.


Prices for Group I exports from Europe are unchanged as few real export deals went through during the past week. The main markets, such as West Africa have gone into limbo amidst havoc caused by elections in Nigeria and banks once again not able to get hold of dollars.

Turkey remains an outlet for exports from Europe’s Mediterranean coast, but Russian imports into this market have dampened the enthusiasm of buyers to pay up to $600/t more for the luxury of getting mainstream quality base oils from places like Italy and Greece.

However, there is a relatively large composite cargo of all types of base oils being organized by a European oil major, loading in three Spanish and Italian ports before sailing a total of 9,500 metric tons of base oil to Gebze and Derince, Turkey.

The Indian market, which was often a target for European traders, has been swamped with an oversupply of base oils as a jump in Russian crude imports is allowing more base oils to be produced domestically than the Indian market can absorb. Surpluses are also moving into markets such as the U.A.E., where they hold price advantages over European material, closing another door for exports of the latter.

Offer prices are heard to still be at levels established in early March, but an uptick in buying could cause some upward pressure. On the other hand, decreased diesel and crude prices has eased the potential for such pressure.

There are a number of shipping inquiries for Turkish receivers for Russian export barrels to move from Svetly, Russia, in the Baltic including one inquiry for a cargo of up to 20,000 tons of base oils for later this month or next.

Prices are realigned here to between $920 per ton and $955/t for solvent neutral 150 and $1,025/t-$1,075/t for SN500. Bright stock prices are unchanged at $1,140/t-$1,200/t.

Group I trade within Europe is still slow but is showing some signs of picking up. This could be due to finished lubricant demand starting its spring build-up, although the uplift is nothing like witnessed in years gone by. With export markets dead, lubricant blenders are commenting that there remains ample availability of Group I grades.

The ban of Russian base oils European Union and allied markets has not had much impact other than on traders and distributors who were involved specifically with such material.

Maintenance schedules may cause Group I markets to shorten up a bit, but sources say that refiners are able cover any interruption to production by laying in stocks prior to a turnaround starting. Prices for the remainder of March are around €920/t-€1,000/t for SN150, €1,085/t-€1,155/t for SN500 and around €1280/t for bright stock.

The euro’s exchange rate with the United States dollar is virtually unchanged from last week, posting Monday at $1.06958. The price differential between Group I exports from Europe and sales within the region is unchanged at €120/t-€210/t, mainly due to the lack of an export market. Export prices are lower.

The European Group II base oil market has seen price swings with the original major who opted to cut prices for a third time during February has announced that Group II prices will rise by between  €20/t-€30/t. The lighter grades will be priced at €1,060/t-€1,075/t and 600 neutral at €1,200/t-€1,225/t.

Whether all Group II suppliers will come into line with this new increase is yet unknown, since the segment recently underwent a round of markdowns where all suppliers seemed keen to hold onto market share. Buyers are confused by the actions taken by this supplier, having assumed that there could be further downward moves to come over the next few weeks.

With Group III prices remaining high, the differential between Group II and Group III remains at its greatest margin yet – around €1,000/t. As explained here previously, that differential would seem to exert some downward pressure on Group III prices, but the tight conditions in that segment are pushing in the opposite direction.

Group II base oils are adjusted upwards at $1,135/t-$1,170/t (€1,060/t-€1,095) for 100N, 150N and 220N and at $1,270/t-$1,340/t (€1,200/t-€1,255/t) for 600N. These prices apply to a broad range of oils from Europe, the U.S., Asia-Pacific and Red Sea sources, supplied either in bulk or in flexi-tanks.

Group III base oil markets around Europe remain tight even given that a number of large cargoes have been arriving from the Middle East Gulf and Malaysia. Allocation programs are in place for grades that have and formerly had full slates of finished lubricant approvals, limiting buyers to 50%-80% of quantities purchased during a comparative period in 2022.

Another 7,000 tons cargo is to be loaded out of Sitra, Bahrain, by the end of March to be delivered into Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam during the first half of May, and more large trans-shipment cargoes are being arranged from Cartagena, Spain, to a Rotterdam hub.

European Group III markets are now out of balance with a shortfall that is growing, particularly for grades carrying full approvals from OEMs in Europe.

Prices for grades with partial slates of approvals are unchanged at €1,780/t-€1,850/t for 4 and 6 centiStokes and at €1,765/t-€1,785/t for 8 cSt, all on an FCA basis ex Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam or Northwestern Europe.

Fully approved Group III oils, now available only from a single source in Cartagena, are priced at €2,000/t-€2,025/t for 4 and 6 cSt and at €1,945/t-€1,975/t for 8 cSt, on an FCA basis from hubs in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, Northwestern Europe and ex-refinery sales from Spain.

Baltic and Black Seas

Baltic export trade is mainly confined to the Svetly terminal in Kaliningrad, where Lukoil load cargoes for destinations such as Gebze in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and ever hopefully for receivers in the west coast of India. The latter location is looking rather distant, because Indian refiners are coping with a surplus of Group I base oils due to large quantities of Russian crude being imported into that country. The latest Svetly cargo is for up to 20,000 tons to load for Gebze at either the end of March or sometime during April.

Lukoil is looking at loading another cargo for Turkish receivers, but this parcel would load from Riga with 7,000 tons of Russian export base oils. It has not been established if supply into Riga would be by trans-shipment through Latvia by train, or a feed out of the Gulf of Finland from a Russian port.

There are Baltic imports – one of which is a cargo of rerefined base oils from Kalundborg in Denmark – going to receivers in Klaipeda. These re-refined base stocks are a satisfactory replacement for Russian barrels.

Latin American and South American base oil markets are still having difficulties covering requirements for Group I base stocks from the U.S. Gulf Coast. This could be an opportunity for Russian traders such as Lukoil and Litasco, that are looking for new outlets. 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.

Perm refinery will go into partial turnaround during April and May, while Volgograd refinery will also move into turnaround around the same time. Whether this will impact supplies of base oils emanating from Kaliningrad and Black Sea is not known. Russian reports also confirm that Rosneft’s refineries at Ufa, Novokuibyshevsk and Angarsk will also start maintenance from late March, for the first one, through early August for the latter refinery. With export destinations for Rosneft products severely limited, it is considered that either all production is being consumed by Russian domestic markets, or alternatively, Rosneft may have cut back production of base oils across its refineries.

FOB prices from Svetly for SN 150 are indicated at $755/t-$800/t, with SN 500 at $795/t-$845/t. However, it is believed that each deal is offered at delivered prices, which are heavily discounted to move base oils from refineries.  

FOB prices for Group I material from PK Orlen out of Gdansk refinery are aligned with European mainstream pricing. SN 150 is currently assessed at $930/t-$965/t, with SN 500 at $1,030/t-$1,055/t, depending on destination. Bright stock is assessed at $1,200/t-$1,255/t. Coming out of a recent turnaround, it is expected that there will be availabilities from Gdansk refinery during the coming weeks.

In Black Seas and the Eastern Mediterranean Turkish buyers are awaiting a cargo from ExxonMobil that is to load firstly from Cartagena, then Valencia and finally Augusta, with all three types of base oils. This cargo will go into Gebze and Derince. There are requirements for higher specification Group I base oils to be used in blends for a number of finished products.

Russian Group I base oils will continue to be imported into Turkey, with a large cargo planned from the Baltic in the next couple of weeks. Sources have informed this report that Turkish receivers cannot take an increase in Russian barrels, with the market completely full.

A previous cargo of 11,000 tons from Svetly loaded and will arrive in Gebze during the second half April.

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

Imports from Livorno and Aghio delivered prices heard at around $975/t-$1,000/t for quantities of SN 150, with SN 500 and 600 at $1,055/t-$1,100/t on a CIF basis. Bright stock may be included from Livorno at a price around $1,255 pmt CIF Gebze or Derince. 

Tupras restarted production around a week ago, continuing production at Izmir for spindle oil, SN 150, SN 500 and bright stock. Prices for base oils available are in Turkish lira, with dollar equivalent numbers at $915/t for the spindle grade – equivalent to SN 80 – $1,060/t for SN 500 and bright stock at $1,270/t. Prices are based on FCA sales.

Group II sold ex-tank has prices lower and assessed at €1,135/t-€1,200/t for the three lower vis products – 100N, 150N and 220N – with 600N at €1,325/t-€1,420/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 believed to be priced at around €2,250/t-€2,300/t FCA.

Middle East

The Red Sea contains news that the large cargo that loaded out of Yanbu and Jeddah is in route to discharge in Hamriyah in the United Arab Emirates. The cargo will total 18,000 tons. Other destinations to be considered are Durban and the west coast of India. Smaller parcels will load for Egypt, Singapore and Sudan during the second half of March.

Middle East Gulf reports contain details on a number of various base oil cargoes from North Korea and mainland China, with quantities of Group I and Group II base stocks. These parcels will go into Hamriyah port, along with supplies of smaller parcels of Group I base oils from Rayong in Thailand. These smaller cargoes will discharge in Ras Al Khaimah. Smaller cargoes are made up of 2,000 to 3,000 tons each.

Group III exports from Sitra and Al Ruwais were identified this week, with cargoes from Sitra moving to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, with 7,200 tons of Group III base oils and Sohar, where 2,850 tons will be discharged, while a cargo will load from Al Ruwais for distributors in Nantong, mainland China. The Bahrain cargo will now load at the end of March for Stasco, discharging in Rotterdam. Part of this parcel may be resold through traders in the U.K.

Another large parcel will be loaded, with 24,500 tons of gas-to-liquids produced Group III+ base oils from Ras Laffan in Qatar. This cargo will be for the Shell system in India. 

The ExxonMobil cargo of 12,000 tons topped-off in Augusta, Sicily, with Group I base oils. The vessel will call at Yanbu and 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 maintained this week because resale prices in the regions appear to be stable. Netback returns are assessed at $1,745/t-$1,795/t, for the range of 4 centiStoke, 6 cSt and 8 cSt partly-approved Group III base oils.

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

Group II base oils that are 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 agents confirm the large cargo for 15,000 tons of Group I, Group II and Group III grades completed loading from Rotterdam and Fawley and is now in route to Durban. 

The financial problems continue to hinder trading in Nigeria, with banks unable to get their hands on U.S. dollars to be able to issue local letters of credit for imports of base oil. This problem is not confined to base oils entering the country but also motor gasoline, AGO and jet kerosene. Some of the receivers are 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 trade to Nigeria.

Stocks of base oils are very low, with a number of blenders unable to operate due to lack of material. This in turn is affecting a numbers of resellers, who are also in a situation where they have no control over stocks and production. 

Naira payments have been taken from some buyers, and then the local currency is converted to dollars on the black market. The continuing problem is the differential between the parallel market rate and the CBN rate.

The large U.S. cargo of up to 20,000 tons for a number of Nigerian receivers has seen offers into Nigeria and perhaps Luanda, but this mid-April cargo remains unfixed, with problems on the 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 appears to be a two-tier market, with responsible traders offering realistic prices, and keeping numbers higher than some of the other “offers,” which are only serving to confuse the market. Some sellers are offering low numbers, which will be ultimately based on prices that will be index-linked to a weekly report. This is a gamble because prices in the report can move, and firm offered numbers may no longer be achievable with changing FOB rates.

CFR prices contained in offers for European material sourcing from the Mediterranean are heard at around $910/t for SN 150, SN 500 at around $990/t, and SN 900 priced at around $1,050/. These levels may be unrealistic to achieve. Looking at European FOB levels, these numbers cannot be real, with levels around $100/t higher possibly being more accurate and achievable. 

Realistic levels are 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, and bright stock may be estimated at around $1,255/t CFR Apapa for one of the major’s cargoes 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.

Related Topics

Base Oil Pricing Report    Base Stocks    Market Topics    Other