EMEA Base Oil Price Report


European base oil buyers are still reticent to purchase large quantities of any type of base stock – even to replenish inventories that must be sorely depleted. Buyers will just not commit to taking large parcels but continue purchasing on an as-needed basis in trucks and small barge parcels.

The normal seasonal pick-up in trade has yet to start, and some players are commenting that it may simply not happen this year. Demand for finished lubricants is abysmal, with many blenders opting for a shorter working week and producing lower quantities than in memory.

Other regions are more fortunate to have steady and stable trades contributing to growth and economic prosperity. In the Middle East Gulf, for example, and in South and East Africa demand for base stocks is at an all-time high, perhaps offsetting the gloom and doom of European markets.

This scenario described for Europe applies to API Group I and Group II base oils, but the Group III segment is lone exception, being tight on supply. Imports from the Middle East Gulf, Malaysia and sometimes from the United States’ West Coast have not made up for the loss of Russian supplies of 4 centiStoke grades from Tatneft. The shortage is especially severe in Eastern Europe, which has had to be filled from alternative sources.

There also appears to be a problem with one of the main European producers at Porvoo, Finland, though the exact problem is not yet known.

Export markets for API Group I base oils are difficult, with financial problems in Nigeria still impeding trade in West Africa, where only Ghana, Cote d’ Ivoire and Guinea are taking regular supplies form European sources. Middle East Gulf and Indian markets are awash with lower-priced material from local sources or suppliers in Thailand, Singapore and Korea, making any participation from European traders almost impossible.

Russian suppliers such as Lukoil have tried to try to break into the Middle East Gulf and Indian marketplaces, but so far with only limited success from Baltic and Black Sea sources.

The war in Ukraine continues to weigh upon Europe’s economy, which is now also being hurt by a banking crisis that piles on top of high inflation and rising interest rates.

Crude oil prices had a rebound week after bottoming out around 10 days ago. Prices for the man markers have all risen by around $6 per barrel as a result of increasing demand for crude from the Asia-Pacific region, especially China. Following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, that country’s economy is starting to bounce back.

Dated deliveries of Brent crude are at $76.90 per barrel, for May front month settlement, while West Texas Intermediate crude is up to $70.35 per barrel, also for May front month, maintaining the crack between the two at around $7.

Low-sulfur gas oil was relatively stable the past week, rising only around $10 to $772 per metric ton, for April front month. These prices were all gathered from London ICE trading late March 27.


Trade in Group I exports from Europe remains very light, with literally only one export deal being recorded this week: a 9,000 ton cargo of three grades moving from Livorno, Italy, to the West Coast of India. Other potential deals are being looked at for Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates, but no firm commitments have been made either by traders or by receivers in the various markets.

Turkey continues to import large quantities of Russian base oils. Cargoes from Livorno and Sicily, Italy, and from Agio Theodoroi, Greece, are being offered to receivers in Gebze and Derince, Turkey, but buyers are hesitating due to the large price differential from Russian supplies – as much as $400 per ton.

The large composite cargo of around 9,500 tons from a European major has finished loading in three ports in Italy and Spain and should have arrived in Gebze or will do so soon.

Shipping inquiries for Turkish receivers to take Russian export barrels from Svetly, Russia, in the Baltic, are still just inquiries. One is for a cargo of up to 20,000 tons of base oils for either later this week, or in early April. Another parcel of 10,000 tons up to 20,000 tons from the same source is being considered for the first few days of April, but it is not known if these cargoes are earmarked for the same receivers in Turkey.

Prices for Group I exports are unchanged this week at between $920/t and $955/t for solvent neutral 150, $1,025/t-$1,075/t for SN500 and $1,140/t-$1,200/t for bright stock.

Group I trade within Europe remains in the doldrums, with buyers sitting back and only buying requirements when they have to maintain production lines. Signs last week of an uptick on the horizon have not materialized, although sellers are optimistic that it will start to soon. Demand for finished lubes is starting to show some positivity but remains slow compared with prior years, even during the pandemic.

Availabilities are still excellent dut to the lull in the export markets. The European Union’s ban of Russian material may be starting to affect Group I supplies, given reports that stocks laid down ahead the Feb. 5 deadline are running down.

Maintenance turnarounds may shorten availabilities of some Group I grades, but refiners said they are able cover the interruptions in production by stocking up beforehand.

Prices going forward into April are set at around €920/t-€1,000/t for SN150, €1,085/t-€1,155/t for SN500 and around €1280/t for bright stock. These levels are largely unchanged from March prices, sellers having had little scope for markups when demand is so poor.

The euro’s value against the U.S. dollar increased slightly to $1.0773. The price differential between Group I exports from Europe and Group I sales within the region remains nearly unchanged this week at €120/t-€210/t, values for exports being lower.

One Group II supplier in Europe has completed the markups discussed here previously, bringing its prices back to levels similar to other Group II suppliers in the region. Those increases were around €20/t-€30/t.

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

Values in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific have risen relative to Europe, but Group II demand has declined, and it remains to be seen if Europe joins the price trend. Sellers are trying to drum up demand.

Group III base oil markets around Europe are described as short, with supplies of coming in from the Middle East Gulf, Malaysia and South Korea to supplement output from Finland and Spain. Allocation programs are in place for some grades with full slates of finished lubricant approvals, and these are limiting buyers to 50%-80% of quantities purchased during a comparative period in 2022.

Large trans-shipment cargoes from Cartagena, Spain, continue to move into Rotterdam. whilst a similar sized parcel has also been noted for discharge in Antwerp, which is unusual but may be necessary to clear inventory from the refinery source.

An exceptionally large cargo has loaded out of Melaka, Malaysia with almost 34,000 tons of Group III base oils. This cargo is bound for Genoa in Italy where the seller, Petronas, has hub storage.

European Group III markets are very tight, with sellers moving every barrel they have in storage to regular customers.

It has been reported, however, that some customers have been able to access larger quantities than normal and that these availabilities are around the market. This suggests that the market is not as critically tight as some would suggest, but other sources have confirmed last week that the situation is very short with no spare material available. These two contrasting views will be investigated over the next few weeks.

Prices Group III oils with partial slates of approvals are unchanged at €1,780/t-€1,850/t for 4 and 6 centiStoke grades and at €1,765/t-€1,785/t for 8 cSt, all on an FCA basis ex Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam or Northwestern Europe. It should be noted that values in the United Kingdom tend to be pitched higher and are reported at €2,020/t-€2,060 for 4 and 6 cSt.

Group III oils with full slates of approvals are now available only from a single source in Cartagena and are priced at €2,050/t-€2,100/t for 4 and 6 cSt. Demand in Europe for 8 cSt oils is low, but they are available at €1,955/t-€2,005/t. These levels are all on an FCA basis ex hubs in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, Northwestern Europe and Spain.

Baltic and Black Seas

Baltic export trade is restricted to exports from Svetly terminal in Kaliningrad and Riga, where Lukoil intends to load cargoes for Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Nigeria and 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 news from Kaliningrad is for two cargoes – one for 5,000 to 20,000 tons and the other for 10,000 to 20,000 tons – both cargoes are for Gebze at either the end of March or early April.

A further 5,000 tons is planned for Lagos in Nigeria, but this parcel may be doubtful. It will depend on the sellers laying hands on a suitable letter of credit issued locally in Lagos. How Russian sellers handle and confirm letters of credit is a mystery, since no prime European banks will get involved with Russian trades, and it is unknown how Russian banks can add confirmation.

Lukoil may also load 7,500 tons out of Kaliningrad or alternatively out of St. Petersburg for receivers in Hamriyah in the U.A.E. This cargo is to be on a prompt basis, so one assumes that the sale has been agreed and that all that is missing is the shipping operation. The Riga cargo seems to have been ditched, at least for the present.

There were no reported base oil cargoes moving into the Baltic last week, although sources have indicated that further imports of rerefined base oils from Kalundborg in Denmark will happen in the near future. These cargoes will discharge in Klaipeda port in Lithuania for local blending operations in that country.

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 can be heavily discounted; hence, the nominal FOB levels will ultimately depend on destination.  

FOB prices for Group I material from Gdansk refinery are included in the European mainstream pricing. SN 150 is assessed at $930/t-$965/t, with SN 500 at $1,030/t-$1,055/t, depending on destination. Bright stock is at $1,200/t-$1,255/t.

In Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkish buyers are expecting a 9,500-ton cargo from a European major that loaded in Cartagena, then Valencia and finally Augusta. This cargo will discharge in Gebze and Derince ports.

Russian Group I base oils continue to be imported into the Turkish market, with the two large cargoes from the Baltic loading on a prompt basis. The Turkish base oi market is completely saturated with Russian-imported SN 150 and SN 500, and the market cannot accept any increase in quantities.

Group I cargoes are offered out of Livorno and Aghio. The cargo of 5,000 tons considered loading out of Aghio and Livorno appear to have been ditched because prices versus Russian imports are going to be much higher.

Imports from Livorno and Aghio had 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 tag of around $1,255 pmt CIF Gebze or Derince. 

Tupras have restarted base oil production and apparently have new material that is offering on an ex-rack basis from the refinery. Buyers are not queuing up, however, with the Russian imported barrels much lower in price. There is availability of spindle oil, SN 150, SN 500 and bright stock. Prices are in Turkish lira, with dollar equivalents of $915/t for spindle oil, $1,060/t for SN 500 and bright stock at $1270 pmt. Prices are based on FCA sales.

Group II sold ex-tank prices remain unchanged and continue to be 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 United States, South Korea and Rotterdam or Valencia.

Group III partly-approved base oils, sold by appointed distributors 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

Red Sea reports another large cargo of 15,000 tons, which loaded out of Yanbu and Jeddah, will discharge in three ports – Fujairah, Hamriyah and Jebel Ali – all in the U.A.E. This would seem to be an additional cargo to the 18,000-ton parcel for Hamriyah, which loaded and sailed earlier in February.  Another cargo of 10,000 tons loaded out of both Yanbu and Jeddah for Durban in South Africa. Loading out of Jeddah means that Group I solvent neutrals would have been on board.

In addition to the cargo from Red Sea on the import side, parcel from Rayong in Thailand will arrive in Hamriyah port with Group I base oils.  Other reports contain details of a number of base oil cargoes from North Korea, Singapore, and possibly from the Baltic, with Russian export barrels. As mentioned, the U.A.E. is particularly busy in taking in many base oil cargoes from a multitude of sources – such as India and mainland China – with quantities of Group I and Group II base stocks. Most of these imports will go into Hamriyah or Ras al Khaimah ports.

Another export cargo is coming out of the Middle East Gulf this week, with 4,000 tons of rubber process oil – which will be of Iranian origin – but has been stored and will be shipped from Ras al Khaimah in the U.A.E. This cargo will be sold into receivers in Ulsan in South Korea.

Group III base oils form most of the exports from the Middle East Gulf, with material from Sitra and Al Ruwais identified with a cargo from Sitra moving down to the U.A.E. for distribution locally. The cargo is the normal size for this operation, around 2,500 tons of which will be sold ex tank or sometimes on a truck-delivered basis to customers in the U.A.E. and Oman. A cargo of 6,500 tons will load from Adnoc in Al Ruwais for distributors in Mumbai anchorage in India.

The large parcel of 24,500 tons of gas-to-liquid produced Group III+ base oils will load on a prompt basis from Ras Laffan in Qatar. This cargo will go into Mumbai anchorage for the Shell system in India.

Group III netbacks for partly-approved and non-approved base oils loading out of Al Ruwais and Sitra remain, as per the last report, with resale prices in the regions are reported as 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 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. are to 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 are maintained with levels currently 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 have confirmed a further large cargo for ExxonMobil loading out of Rotterdam and Fawley prior to sailing to Durban with the bulk of the cargo. But it will then sail to Mombasa with the balance of the parcel, which will total up around 22,000 tons of base oils. The cargo should load around mid-April in the first port.

In West Africa, financial problems with foreign currencies continue to blight base oil imports into Nigeria. Banks are unable to get their hands on U.S. dollars to be able to open and issue letters of credit for imports of base oil. 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, but this may take months rather than weeks 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.

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 it is not clear yet if this cargo has got clearance to fix a vessel because receivers may not have been able to have their banks issue the necessary letters of credit. This cargo will go into a number of receivers, which adds further complications to the deal. The cargo may discharge in Onne port in Nigeria and may two-port discharge, with the balance of the cargo going into Luanda in Angola.

Lukoil are trying to fix a 5,000-ton cargo out of Svetly terminal that is going into Apapa and is due to load any time now.

It also seems that another ExxonMobil cargo out of Fawley will be offered to their “affiliated” receivers in Nigeria. The cargo, just short of 5,000 tons, will load during the first few days of April with Group I base oils.

The market is still rather confused, with two-tier pricing touted around. Responsible traders are offering realistic prices, keeping numbers much higher than some of the other numbers that are talked about in the Nigerian market but that are only confusing the market further. Sellers are offering very low prices that will be index-linked to a weekly base oil report. Prices in the report can change quickly, and firm numbers offered to buyers may not be achievable with changing FOB rates.

CFR prices for European material sourced from the Mediterranean were put 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 may be unachievable.

Realistic levels are CFR levels, given as indications only. Levels are confirmed at $1,010/t-$1,020/t for SN 150, SN 500 at $1,050/t-$1,060/t, and SN 900 at $1,130/t-$1,145/t. Bright stock may be estimated at around $1,255/t CFR Apapa for a 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.

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