EMEA Base Oil Price Report


Base oil demand appears to be picking up around Europe, the Middle East and Africa as buyers begin building back inventories that had sunk to extremely low levels.

The increase is especially evident for premium grades but also for API oils. European blenders still insist, though, that there is ample supply for Group I, even after a ban on Russian imports that took effect Feb. 5.

Stocks of Russian Group I were laid away before that ban, but they now have been largely used up and are being replaced with supplies from mainstream producers. Group I cargoes are being sourced from the Mediterranean going into regional European markets such as Scandinavia and the United Kingdom. New supply routes are becoming the norm, and a number of operators are starting to consider contractual arrangements for longer term supplies of Group I base oils.

Group II markets around Europe and beyond have picked up speed the past couple weeks in spite of another round of markups by ExxonMobil, one of the main suppliers to the European markets. Prices have been increased by €20-/t-€30 per metric ton, with heavier grades rising more than lighter ones.

This move has realigned existing prices with other competitors in the market, and has created a more level pricing structure to the Group II market. Demand has started to increase as more blenders see advantages of using premium base oils against traditional Group I blends.

Group III is also showing healthy demand, with distributors and direct sellers claiming that forward sales through June and July are all accounted for, and all material made available – whether from European refineries or Imports from areas such as the Middle East Gulf and Malaysia – have been allocated to customers who have committed to take regular monthly quantities from suppliers.

Buyers are keen to take more Group III base oils than are currently being offered, but with production centers running at around full capacity, it is difficult to see how increasing demand will be met and covered.

This situation has prompted a number of new suppliers from the Asia-Pacific region to target European markets, which offer higher returns than Asia-Pacific and India – the main alternatives for such suppliers.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine still weighs heavily on European markets – impeding forecasts of market trends and the volume of finished products that will be required going into summer. Most operators are predicting that trade will improve the next few months.

Maintenance shutdowns in the Group I arena may yet pinch availabilities over the next few months as a number of turnarounds are scheduled to begin over the next few weeks. Most of the work is routine, so shutdowns should be limited to periods of around four weeks. Producers should be able to lay down buffer stocks to cover demand during those periods – hence the predictions that Group I markets will continue in current mode.

Crude oil prices slipped the past week on flat demand, which rather contradicts forecasts that production cutbacks by the OPEC+ group of nations would push up values. Dated deliveries of Brent and West Texas Intermediate crudes both fell around $4 per barrel – to $81.30/bbl for Brent and $77.55/bbl for WTI, both for June front month settlement.

Low-sulfur gas oil prices declined around $35 to $725 per metric ton for May front month. These prices were all obtained from London ICE trading late April 24.


Trade in Group I exports from Europe remains scant, due in part to more aggressive prices and greater availabilities in alternative markets such as the United States. Few European Group I producers have stocks to offer for export because of lower inventory levels, but some sellers have raised prices in response to increasing raw material costs. A few offers reflected price hikes of up to $60-$70 higher than a month ago.

Turkey continues to be a good market for Mediterranean Group I supplies. Prices for those oils have become more competitive, allowing Turkish traders and blenders to make some purchases from mainstream Europe rather than depending solely on Russian imports. Comments by a number of sources in Turkey suggest that blenders there are prepared to pay premiums for higher specification supplies from Agio, Greece, and from Livorno and Augusta, Italy.

One interesting shipment is spotted moving from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Antwerp with 5,000 tons of base oils. If loaded in Jeddah, this cargo could only contain Group I solvent neutrals. Perhaps the supplier is trying to take advantage of the absence of Russian products to gain a slice of the Northwestern European Group I market.

Prices for Group I exports from Europe rose again this week to between $995/t and $1,020/t for solvent neutral 150 and $1,100/t-$1,160/t for SN500 and SN600. Bright stock has been offered at $1,265/t-$1,325/t, depending on source and quantity.

Group I sales within Europe are surging as a number of large blending operations are trying to rebuild inventories stocks of Group I grades that may be required for upcoming tenders of finished lubricants. Demand appears to be rising for finished products, which in turn should spark buying interest for Group I grades.

With the disappearance of Russian imports from the European mainland, Group I producers are diverting more and more material to markets within the region, where demand is rising, and prices are higher than those for export sales.

Blenders are covering requirements, which could be affected by refineries going into turnaround. Suppliers are giving regular lifters as much notice as possible to cover requirements over the next couple of months during the maintenance and repair periods.

In some instances, buyers are still maintaining that they can make spot purchases of smaller parcels of base oils as and when required, but this practice can create problems for producers, some of whom are stipulating minimum quantities, giving buyers little choice other than to accept these terms and conditions. Interest rates and borrowing costs remain high, and with higher operating costs, coupled with increasing wage settlements and higher transportation costs, blenders are being squeezed from all sides.  

Prices for Group I sales within Europe remain around €1,000/t-€1,050/t for SN150, €1,145/t-€1,175/t for SN500 and around €1,295/t for bright stock. Anticipation of increases in crude costs are exerting upward pressure, but buyers are focusing on the recent dips in feedstock costs rather than the fact that they are up significantly over the past month.

The euro’s exchange rate with the U.S. dollar rose to $1.10115 on April 24 – its highest level in more than a year. The differential between prices for Group I sales within the region and exports is unchanged at €90/t-€185/t, exports being lower.

Group II trade in Europe has increased significantly from the low level of the past few months. Buyers are keen to lock in supplies for the upcoming oil change season, when summer months mean that commercial and industrial activities may start to gain momentum. ExxonMobil’s hikes took its prices back to where other suppliers were already pitching after an earlier round of increases that followed markdowns several weeks prior.

Last week this report omitted U.S. dollar prices, which are largely dispensed with for European sales. However, there are pockets of Group II supplies where dollar prices are used – for example in Hungary, where one producer always quotes numbers is U.S. dollars even though euros may be used for payment. U.S. dollar prices have been included is this issue.

Prices are raised this week to €1,075/t-€1,160/t ($1,183/t-$1,276/t) for 100 neutral, 150N and 220N and to €1,280/t-€1,345/t ($1,408/t-$1,480/t) for 600N. These values apply to a broad range of Group II oils from Europe, the U.S., Asia-Pacific and Red Sea sources, imported either in bulk or in flexi-tanks.

Group III supplies in Europe will be boosted the next few months by a number of cargoes arriving from Middle East Gulf and Malaysian sources while a plant in Cartagena, Spain, is in a maintenance shutdown that begins this week.

Another cargo out of Malaysia will carry 6,000 tons of Group III grades, first to a hub in Genoa, Italy, and then to another hub in Antwerp. The cargo loaded towards the end of March and should arrive in the first port during the first half of May.

Large trans-shipments from Cartagena are still moving into Rotterdam, providing customers with cover for requirements during the temporary shutdown.

Some Group III suppliers are offering discounts to buyers so that they (the sellers) can better plan shipments. In addition, two new South Korean suppliers to the European market are offering low prices, perhaps in an effort to buy market share. The specifications for products from one of these suppliers are lower than other Group III grades, which could explain lower prices in their case.

Prices for Group III oils with partial slates of approvals are unchanged at €1,700/t-€1,850/t for 4 and 6 centiStoke oils, while 8 cSt, where available, is at €1,765/t-€1,785/t, all on an FCA basis ex Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam or Northwestern Europe.

Group III oils with full slates of approvals are currently only available from the Cartagena refinery and are prices at €2,020/t-€2,050/t for 4 and 6 cSt, on an FCA basis ex sales from Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, Northwestern Europe and Spain. Eight cSt oils are available, but the quantities being made available in main European hubs are too small to justify a price reference here. Eight cSt oils are being sold at around €1,920/t, on an FOB for basis into destinations such as India and Turkey.

Baltic and Black Seas

The traditional movements of Russian export barrels out of the Baltic ports has all but ceased, with only a couple of possible Lukoil movements from Svetly in Kaliningrad, or alternatively, from either Riga or St Petersburg moving to Turkey or other export destinations, such as the United Arab Emirates or India. These are rather spurious potential cargoes and have been debated for some weeks, without being fixed firm. Other alternatives raise the potential movements for Russian export barrels to move to Nigeria from the Baltic but again there appear to be delays and hiccups regarding the final placement of these cargoes.

Cargoes from mainland Europe are starting to move into the Baltic, with one parcel loading from Fawley and Rotterdam with 4,000 tons of base oils discharging in Klaipeda. This cargo is in addition to the rerefined base oils that have also been discharged into receivers in the same Lithuanian port. Obviously, there have been major changes to supply chains for blenders in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, where before they would utilize Russian export base oils in blending operations. Now these local buyers have to depend on incoming cargoes of Group I base stocks from mainland supply points in the European Union and United Kingdom.

Outgoing cargoes are also now starting to load from Gdansk which has acted as a replacement source for buyers in U.K. ports and also for Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam receivers.

FOB prices ex Svetly are nominal at best and are estimated on the basis of imported material that was discharged in Gebze in Turkey. Numbers are difficult to calculate but as indications only, SN 150 levels are given at $775/t-$810/t, with SN 500 at $795/t-$845/t. FOB levels will depend on destination and receivers, and additionally, terms of payment, which can vary from receiver to receiver.

FOB prices for Group I material from Gdansk refinery are aligned with European mainstream pricing and are thereby raised this week. SN 150 is assessed at $995/t-$1,045/t. SN 500 is at $1,075/t-$1,120/t, depending on destination. Quantities of bright stock are estimated to be priced at $1,295/t-$1,340/t.

In the East Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, imports of Russian material continue to flood the Turkish base oil market, but additionally, Turkish blenders are taking a number of Group I cargoes from Mediterranean sources, such as Livorno, Aghio and Augusta in Sicily.

Offers from Livorno and Aghio have CIF-delivered prices a touch higher this week, following price reviews, with material offered at $1,045/t for quantities of SN 150, with SN 500 and 600 at $1,095/t-$1,135/t. Bright stock may be included from Livorno at a price level around $1,335/t CIF Gebze or Derince. These prices are revised upwards this week, acknowledging the recent rises in raw material costs that are now reflected in new Group I prices. Compared to Russian material, these prices are much higher, although specification and quality have to be taken into account. It is also believed that Russian prices may have been pushed higher, due to pressure from refineries where costs have started to rise, particularly for hardware replacement due to sanctions on supplies of spares and parts.

Tupras has availabilities from Izmir refinery, with prices with dollar equivalents moving upwards from previous levels. Prices are around $955/t for spindle oil, $1,095/t for SN 500, with bright stock at $1,325/t. Prices are in respect of ex-rack truck sales.

Lukoil is attempting to put together two cargoes from Limas terminal in Turkey. These parcels – one of 4,000 tons on a prompt basis, and another for early May for 6,500 tons of Russian export barrels – will be supplied from Volgograd refinery and will be stored in Limas terminal and then re-shipped to receivers in Singapore. These outlets are vitally important to keep base oil production flowing at Russian refineries, and one can only guess at the economics attached to the successful dispatch and sales of these cargoes. Chartered vessels will probably be Turkish-flagged for acceptance by receivers in Singapore.

Group II ex-tank prices are tweaked slightly higher, following increases in imported grades. Levels are now assessed at €1,165/t-€1,225/t for the three lower vis products – 100N, 150N and 220N – with 600N at €1,345/t-€1,435/t. Supplies of Group II grades may be sourced from the Red Sea, the U.S., South Korea and Rotterdam or hub storage in Valencia.

Partly-approved Group III base oils resold by distributors on an FCA basis or on a road tank wagon-delivered basis, are maintained this week, assessed at €1,865/t-€1,900/t. Fully-approved Group III grades delivered into Gemlik from SK in Cartagena will be priced at around €2,250/t-€2,300/t FCA.

Middle East

Saudi Arabian refiners operating out of the two Red Sea ports of Yanbu and Jeddah are particularly busy this week, with a number of prompt cargoes, as well as future parcels that are planned for the United Arab Emirates and the west coast of India. The normal large cargoes of 17,000-19,0000 tons are not around, with smaller parcels moving to Port Suakin in Sudan and a larger cargo of 7,000 tons being shipped to Aqaba in Jordan. Other parcels are being readied for shipping to Singapore, Ras al Khaimah and Mumbai anchorage.  The interesting movement this week is the 5,000-ton parcel that is currently loading in Jeddah port, bound for Antwerp. This Group I cargo of solvent neutral grades is the first seen going into mainland Europe. As previously discussed, it may present an opportunity to gain access to the European Group I market, following the European Union ban on Russian imports after Feb. 5.

Middle East Gulf reports carry news of a number of cargoes coming into the region that are comprised mainly of Group I and Group II base stocks. Group II cargoes are increasingly becoming the norm, arriving into the Middle East Gulf regions, mainly the U.A.E., from Yanbu, South Korea, the United States. and Europe. There has been a seismic shift away from the traditional use of Group I base stocks to using Group II premium grades, with blending operations in the U.A.E. moving forward into a new era for finished lubricants and base oils.

Group I base oils, however, still play an important part of the lubricants slate in Middle East Gulf regions, and with a raft of material arriving from Rayong in Thailand, and also Group I material coming in from Indian refineries in Haldia and Chennai. The supply picture into the Middle East Gulf has changed and altered significantly from past times. The reliance on Group I base oils coming out of Iranian refineries, such as Sepahan, has all but disappeared, although quantities of rubber process oils from Iranian sources have used Ras Al Khaimah as a bridging point to store and redistribute this product to receivers in Korea. Group I cargoes are also primed to come into the region from U.S. Gulf Coast sources, with two port discharging often the case with part-cargoes going into Mumbai anchorage in addition to Hamriyah port in the U.A.E.

An offer for Group I base oils to be imported into the U.A.E. from Lukoil is for one cargo of 7,500 tons to load out of Svetly in the Baltic for receivers in Hamriyah. This cargo was declined by receivers from both voyage timing and vessel suitability. The alternative parcels from Limas in Turkey may have a chance of being successful sales.

Export cargoes from the Middle East Gulf, primarily Group III cargoes, are noted with the first of the Stasco cargoes from Sitra being loaded this week, with 7,850 tons of Group III grades. This cargo is bound for Rotterdam where it will go into storage before being sold on a break or bulk basis. Part of the cargo may be resold to traders who will resell the parcel in the U.K.

Another firm fixture will be a cargo loading out of Al Ruwais for Adnoc barrels going into distributors in Nantong, in mainland China. This cargo will load 7,500 tons of three grades of Group III base stocks. Also loading later this week will be a cargo of 8,500 tons for receivers in the west coast of India, assumed to be into Mumbai anchorage.

Netbacks for partly-approved and non-approved Group III base oils loaded out of Al Ruwais and Sitra are maintained this week, following the slightly lower numbers adjusted last week. Selling prices in Europe are reported to have had small adjustments. Netback returns are currently assessed at $1,725/t-$1,775/t, for the range of 4 centiStoke, 6 cSt and 8 cSt partly-approved and non-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. may be sourced from European, U.S, Asia-Pacific and Red Sea producers. These grades are presently made available ex tank U.A.E., and on a truck-delivered basis within the U.A.E. and Oman. Prices are moved slightly higher as a result of upward moves in U.S. and European markets, with levels moving up to $1,470/t-$1,485/t for the light vis grades, with 600N at $1,520/t-$1,555/t. The high ends of the ranges refer to road tank wagon deliveries.


In West Africa there are a couple of notable new cargoes, one that will discharge in Apapa port in Nigeria, and another parcel that will load only from Fawley with 6,450 tons of two Group I grades. This cargo will discharge into Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire and also Tema in Ghana. The interesting point is that with only two grades of Group I base oils on board – and the Tema contract requiring cover for SN 150, SN 500 and bright stock – it may be that a supplementary cargo will deliver further quantities of base oil into Tema in the near future. Or it may be that additional barrels were delivered into Ghana on a previous cargo which proceeded on to Durban for final discharge.

The large cargo from the U.S. Gulf Coast at 18,000-19,000 tons has two-port loaded with an additional load port in Paulsborough, on the U.S. Atlantic Coast. The quantity for Nigeria will go into Apapa port, not Onne as first thought, and following initial discharge, the vessel will sail to Luanda in Angola with the balance of the cargo. The receiver in Luanda may be Sonangol. 

The Livorno parcel of 12,000 tons of three Group I grades will be arriving into Apapa during the first half of May and will discharge SN 150, SN 500 and SN900.

Price levels were heard initially to be at $910/t for SN 150, SN 500 at around $990/t, with SN 900 priced at around $1,050/t. However, prices increased by around $100/t in each case to more accurately reflect FOB numbers, plus the freight element of the deal.

Confirmed levels for a current cargo have CFR levels at $1,020/t for SN 150, SN 500 at $1,070/t, and SN 900 at $1,150/t. If bright stock is loaded separately as part of the Livorno, cargo price is estimated to come in at around $1,320/t CFR Apapa. This grade could potentially be on the cargo from Livorno, unless a blend with SN 500 was completed during or after loading, to produce the SN 900 grade.

Future offers for cargoes further down the line arriving perhaps during June, have higher offered prices due to FOB levels being raised. CFR prices are assessed to be SN 150 at around $1,025/t-$1,040/t, with SN 500 at $1,075/t-$1,095/t and SN 900 at $1,155/t-$1,175/t.

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