EMEA Base Oil Price Report


The post-holiday return to work has not yielded the purchasing spree that some expected.

Lubricant companies were holding exceptionally low inventories of all types of base oils as the year began, and with plentiful availabilities on all fronts, blenders were expected to take advantage of recent discounting for all groups to restock ahead of the seasonal uptick in activity prior to the spring. These events have not happened, and quite a few blenders described being in no rush to replenish because they perceive downward pressure on prices.

In the API Group I segment, availability may be about to change because a complete European Union ban on all Russian hydrocarbon imports takes effect Feb. 5. This ban will of course include base oils and may shorten the Group I market, since annual imports of Russian Group I base oils were running at above 200,000 metric tons.

The absence of these grades from the European market will put pressure on other Group I suppliers to fill the void and may precipitate further shifts to Group II. Such shifts could in turn tighten the European Group II supply scene.

Prices have not changed much since last week despite a significant uptick in Group I exports from mainland Europe. One major oil company has so far loaded around 70,000 tons of various base oil grades – including Group l, Group II and Group III – for hubs and third-party receivers in areas such as Singapore, South Africa and West Africa.

Offers for these cargoes, which are now loading, were probably made to prospective buyers some time ago and hence may not say much about where pricing is at the moment.

Crude oil prices have remained firm as Brent and West Texas Intermediate both increased by around $4 per barrel during the past week. Dated deliveries of Brent are at $84.55/bbl, still for March front month settlement, while WTI climbed to $79.20/bbl, still for February front month.

Demand for crude has firmed due to Chinese buyers returning to the market following the suspension of COVID-19 regulations that had effectively closed much of the Chinese economy. As restrictions are lifted, the general movement of people and goods has revived, and it can be expected that demand for energy will rise through spring and into summer, boosting global demand for crude and petroleum products.

Low-sulfur gas oil prices rose around $50 per metric ton in the past week, but there is no directional trend for diesel prices, which respond to factors such as weather, as falling temperatures signaling potential increases in demand for gas oil. Low-sulfur gas oil is priced at $938 per ton, now for February front month. These prices were obtained from London ICE trading late Jan. 16.


It has been confirmed that many of the export cargoes currently being loaded in Europe were actually transacted before the end of 2022. There are a number of new inquiries for typical export destinations such as Nigeria, but letters of credit are still very difficult to arrange in that neck of the woods due to continuing foreign currency shortages.

Prices stabilized after some exceptionally keen offers for year-end sales. These levels may have established the new standard and are here incorporated to the lower end of price ranges. It will be interesting to see where the Group I market goes following the Feb 5 ban on Russian imports, with some players stating that it will make little difference since most buyers who relied on Russian material, have already made alternative arrangements for supplies of Group I base stocks.

Others are still trying to arrange supplies from alternative sources, which in many cases has not been easy. A number of “contracts” will continue right up until midnight on Feb 4. The ban does allow a few exceptions – for example in countries that are dependent on Urals and that today lack practical alternatives. However, there appear to be no cases where base oils will continue to be allowed into EU countries or allies participating in the ban.

Prices for Group I exports from Europe are unchanged from last week, and ranges are still unusually wide, but the highs of these spreads have moderated during the past week. Solvent neutral 150 is now assessed between $855/t and $920/t, while SN500 is at $889/t-$965/t and bright stock at $1,030/t-$1,085/t, all on an FOB basis.

Group I trade within Europe remains dull, with no real resurgence of activity. Many players are stating that it is difficult to see prospects for positive growth returning until the war in Ukraine ends. Demand for industrial lubes has plummeted, and whilst automotive demand appears to be holding up, few expect business to return to pre-invasion levels any time soon.

Prices set around the turn of the year remain in place but with few buyers purchasing large quantities of base oil. Many had postponed deliveries from November through December, then to January and now into February.

There appear to be few concerns of the Group I market tightening following the ban on Russian imports, with many sources consulted during last week said that availabilities remained good and that meeting supply needs was not difficult. There are some complaints about availabilities of certain chemical additives, but reduced demand for finished lubricants is easing that situation.

Prices for Group I sales within Europe are at €1,055/t-€1,100/t for SN150, €1,175/t-€1,225/t for SN 500 and around €1,385/t for bright stock. The euro’s exchange rate with the United States dollar has risen to $1.08228. The differential between domestic and export pricing is maintained at €135/t-€275/t, export prices being lower.

European Group II base oil prices remain stable and steady. There is little sign of downward pressure or even prospects so long as feedstocks and demand hold up. Prices are expected to be reviewed toward the end of the month. Talk in the market suggests that demand is expected to start to rise toward the middle of the first quarter.

Group II prices are tweaked as major suppliers have come into line with other sellers. Values are pegged at $1,300/t-$1,380/t (€1,200/t-€1,275/t) for 100 neutral, 150N and 220N and at $1,520/t-$1,580/t (€1,405/t-€1,460/t) for 600N. These levels apply to an extensive range of Group II oils from Europe, the U.S., Asia-Pacific and the Middle East Gulf.

Group III base oil markets around Europe have seen replenishment cargoes arriving from the Middle East Gulf and Malaysia, and with considerable quantities emanating from Cartagena in Spain to hubs in Rotterdam, Turkey and India, the Group III segment looks quite healthy. Demand remains strong and is expected to remain so for the rest of this year.

There are few signs of any new production coming on to the European market, and given demand for Group III base oils growing in regions such as Latin and South America, the future looks bright for producers of these grades. Supply to Europe could even tighten.

Prices for Group III oils with partial slates of finished lubricant approvals are unchanged at €1,700/t-€1,735/t for 4 and 6 centiStoke oils and at €1,675/t-€1,725/t for 8 cSt, all on an FCA basis ex Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam and Northwestern Europe.

Values for Group IIIs with full slates of approvals are realigned and not so far ahead this month at €1,720/t-€1,760/t for 4 cSt and at €1,735/t-€1,785/t for 6 and 8 cSt, again on an FCA basis ex hubs in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam and Northwestern Europe.

Baltic and Black Seas

Baltic trades are sparse these days, with no cargoes showing out of Svetly terminal in Kaliningrad. The only firm fixture is a 5,000-ton parcel that loaded out of Riga for receivers in Apapa. This cargo is relatively small for Nigeria, and it could be that with difficulties in opening letters of credit, this may have constrained the size of the parcel. It could also be that there is only one receiver for this quantity, since traders report that it has been incredibly difficult to put together cargoes for more than one receiver, since by moving base oils in quantity, savings can be achieved on freight rates. 

A further enquiry is noted for another cargo to load out of Riga for receivers in Gebze in Turkey. The parcel could be up to 7,000 tons, and it is believed that this cargo may be loading presently.

The cargoes from Aabenraa in Denmark have been confirmed as re-refined base oils from Kalundborg, one moving to the United Arab Emirates and another parcel going into Mumbai anchorage. Quite why these parcels are loading out of Aabenraa is not clear.

The European Union ban on Russian imports will come into place on Feb. 5, with reports that current “contracted” supplies are continuing presently but the last cargoes may already be loaded with less than three weeks to meet the deadline. Few cargoes of Russian export base oils have been landed into EU or U.K. ports during the last few weeks. 

New export destinations for Russian material such as the U.A.E., India and South and Central America are being progressed by traders looking to move Russian refinery production to new locations, using keen prices as an incentive for receivers to try out these availabilities. What does require clarification is where has all the production from companies such as Gazprom and Rosneft gone? These large corporations held monthly tenders for the supply of base oils through Baltic ports, but these have all but disappeared – other than the Nigerian 5,000 tons that was loaded at the end of December.

Access to suitable shipping from Russian ports such as Kaliningrad is a major problem, with European owners and operators unable and unwilling to offer vessels for Russian exports.

FOB prices from Riga for SN 150, purely as an indication, is assessed at $785/t-$835/t, with SN 500 at $800/t-$845/t.

Gdansk refinery may have availabilities for second half January, substituting for some of the previous Russian exports that latterly came out of Riga and Liepaja.

FOB prices from Gdansk are covered under European mainstream levels. SN 150 is placed at $865/t-$925/t, with SN 500 in a wide range at $895/t-$975/t, depending on destination. Bright stock remains assessed at $1,035/t-$1,100/t. Buyers are requested to lift a combination of all three grades to balance the supply slate.

The Turkish market opened up again to supplies of Group I base oils from Greece and Italy. A large cargo of 6,000 tons from Livorno is believed to be the first going into Turkey, following the protracted shutdown at the refinery during 2022. The option to take material from one or both of these suppliers adds to the Turkish supply portfolio, and may be seen to bolster the lower cost, lower spec Russian barrels that keep on flowing into Turkey from the Baltic and from Volgograd refinery in the south. Turkish imports of around 280,000 tons of base oils last year were mainly Russian barrels. The national refiner Tupras was down about 40% in supplying the local Turkish market during 2022, due mainly to breakdowns and other feedstock and supply interruptions.

MOH out of Aghio offered a cargo of 5,300 tons of base oils to receivers in Derince that was confirmed, since some blending operations require higher specification Group I base oils for particular finished lubricants.

Prices for the ENI offer were heard to be keen, with CIF numbers heard at around $920/t-$945/t for quantities of SN 150, with SN 500 and 600 at $965/t-$985/t.

Prices from the local Turkish refinery at Izmir were last reported at $859/t for SN 150, $1,000/t for SN 500, with bright stock at $1,195/t. Prices are for truck loads ex refinery, purchased in Turkish lira. 

Group II prices ex-tank for material from a variety of sources imported into Turkey are unchanged this week. They are assessed at €1,485/t-€1,565/t for the three lower vis products, with 600N at €1,590/t-€1,640/t. Supplies of Group II grades can arrive from the Red Sea, the United States via Antwerp and South Korea.

Group III base oils sold on an FCA basis for partly-approved grades remain at €1,765/t-€1,800/t. A cargo from Malaysia of 5,000 tons of two grades of Group III base oils is expected to arrive into Gebze around the end of February. Fully-approved Group III grades delivered into Gebze from Cartagena in Spain continue to be priced at around €1,795/t-€1,855/t FCA. A smaller cargo of 1,250 tons loaded out of Spain and will discharge into Gebze around Jan. 20.

Middle East

Red Sea reports contain fixture of a vessel to take 19,000 tons of base oils from Yanbu and Jeddah, going into Mumbai to discharge. This follows on from other cargoes going into the U.A.E, and Pakistan with slightly smaller quantities.

Middle East Gulf receivers are looking at various options to take cargoes of Group I base stocks. Europe leads the options in addition to Baltic and Black Sea sources for Russian barrels from Lukoil. High freight rates are associated with moving cargoes from those distant sources. At the same time, receivers in the U.A.E are looking to take further cargoes from Indian sellers, making a reversal of normal trade routes. Iranian base oils from Sepahan refinery are bridged into storage in Hamriyah port in Sharjah in smaller lots, and then moved in cargo-sized parcels to Hazira, Mumbai port and Mumbai anchorage.

What base oils are exported from India to the U.A.E. is unknown at this stage, but information is being sought from local sources in Mumbai and Sharjah. Substantial quantities of base oils are touted as coming from Haldia and Chennai going into Hamriyah. At the same time, smaller cargoes of 2,000 tons each are moving from Pakistan into Ras Al Khaimah, a smaller emirate in the U.A.E., between Sharjah and Fujairah.

The ExxonMobil cargo of 10,700 tons was fixed clean and is loading out of Rotterdam and Fawley, before primarily sailing to Yanbu, then Fujairah and finally Jebel Ali. The same supplier chartered a further vessel to load out of a supply hub in Valencia, and then load further quantities of Group I base oils from Augusta in Sicily. It will then proceed to Yanbu, Fujairah and then Jebel Ali. This cargo will be comprised of up to 12,000 tons of Group II and Group I base stocks. The calling at Yanbu for both vessels raises interesting questions – is the vessel discharging, or is it topping off with further quantities of base oils from Luberef?

With three cargoes loading out of Al Ruwais and three parcels coming out of Sitra, large quantities of Group III base oils are being primed for markets in the U.S., China and the west coast of India. The Indian cargo out of Sitra will be loading up to 20,000 tons of three grades of Group III base oils. Meanwhile, a further parcel of 7,500 tons is planned to go into the U.S. Gulf Coast. The Al Ruwais cargoes are for mainland China and also the west coast of India. Cargoes are primed to move to Mumbai anchorage, China and the U.S. from Adnoc. There is another shipping inquiry for 5,000 tons to move from Al Ruwais to Buenos Aires, but this is thought to be flakish because there is no distribution set up for Adnoc in Argentina.

Netbacks for partly-approved and non-approved Group III base oils loaded out of Al Ruwais and Sitra go unchanged this week, with selling prices in regional markets still reported at existing levels. Netback returns are assessed at $1,690/t-$1,725/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 in areas – for example, Europe, India, the U.S., and China – thereafter netback levels are derived from regional selling prices, less marketing, handling and estimated freight costs.

Group II base oils selling on a FCA basis in the U.A.E. are sourced out of European, U.S, Asia-Pacific and Red Sea producers and are resold FCA, or on a truck-delivered basis within the U.A.E. Prices are maintained, with levels at $1,540/t-$1,575/t for the light vis grades, with 500N and 600N at $1,600/t-$1,670/t. The high ends of the ranges refer to road tank wagon-delivered base oils.


South African shipping sources confirm the large cargoes of base oils and chemicals from Rotterdam and Fawley. The latest cargo of up to 24kt will load at the end of January. The chartered vessel will also call at Tema port in Ghana with 5,000 tons of SN 150, SN 500 and bright stock. The vessel will then sail to Durban with the remaining balance of 19,000 tons of cargo.

In addition to supplying the Ghana tender into Tema port, the same supplier will send around 6,000 tons of Group I base oils to receivers in Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire. The ship will discharge into Conakry in Guinea and Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire. The cargo split is not known. but a guess would be that around 3,000 tons of three grades of Group I base oils will be discharged in each port, SN 150, SN 500 and bright stock.

Other West African news is that the 10,000 tons of Greek cargo was arranged by a new base oil operation based in Geneva. This trader is not new to oil trading in general, but it has been some years since this company delved into the world of base oils. Previously, interests were also in Nigeria. The Livorno cargo has sailed and the 11,000-ton parcel of three Group I base oils will deliver into Apapa around the end of January or perhaps early February, depending on weather and safe passage.

Summarizing the recent cargoes going into Apapa, the first was from the Baltic with 10,000 tons of material on board. The second cargo came out of Rotterdam and Fawley for a major, with up to 12,000 tons on board. Next came the 11,000 tons out of Livorno, with another 10,000-ton parcel from Aghio mentioned above. The last cargo refers to the smaller 5,000-ton parcel that loaded out of Riga in the Baltic towards the end of last year. Between the end of November and present, a total of some 48,000 tons of Group I base oils were discharged into Nigeria.

Banking problems remain a problem and are preventing some of the regular traders from embarking on business in Nigeria. The current problems have not gone away and may continue for some time, or until government steps in to address the situation.

CFR levels for base oils discharging in Apapa were reconfirmed by sources close to these trades and are given as indications only.

Levels are at $1,000/t for SN 150, SN 500 is at around $1,050/t and SN 900 is at $1,095/t. Also as an indication, bright stock is assessed at around $1,220/t CFR 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.

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