EMEA Base Oil Price Report


With the summer holiday period in full swing, base oil markets across Europe, the Middle East and Africa are exceptionally quiet, with few new dealings and transactions. Much maintenance is underway at refineries and lubricant factories to take advantage of the slow period.

Skeleton crews are still in attendance at many locations, but the decision makers for base oil sales and purchases are mostly missing and will not return until the end of August or the beginning of September.

Some demand spikes were reported the past week, perhaps indicating that some buyers are concerned that rising feedstock costs could exert upward pressure on base oil prices.

API Group I and II base oils could feel that pressure earlier since values for these grades dropped significantly from lofty peaks earlier this year. Group III prices appear still in free fall, with some reports that 8 centiStoke material has been offered as low as €1,300 per metric ton on an FCA basis ex Rotterdam.

Eight cSt oils are demanded only in low volumes in the more temperate European markets, but such prices are unheard of in recent times, and they could have some impact on 4 and 6 cSt oils.

One oil major did hike Group I prices last week by €60/t and applied an increment of €12/t to Group II grades. These increases apply to the European market only, at least so far.

Should demand increase in the short term it may take up a lot of the surplus material held in tank by producers, solving any storage problems that develop during the sleepy weeks of August. Spikes in demand have been reported in Asia-Pacific and South America, and the trend could spread.

So far there have been few reports of participants abandoning vacations, but things could change if crude demand continues to rise, and prices continue to firm. Crude producing nations continue to cut output, and will introduce further cutbacks in September, limiting the quantities available to meet rising demand.

Crude oil and feedstock prices are firmer as dated deliveries of Brent crude moved above $87 toward the end of last week. Prices retreated a bit afterward but are still around the same levels as last week. The spike in crude prices can be explained now by increasing demand in areas such as China combined with an announcement that leading producer Saudi Arabia will further restrict output starting in September.

Even Russia has come out with planned cutbacks, perhaps trying to show political support for the Saudis. This is a little odd since Russia is keen to raise as revenue as possible for the war in Ukraine. The Russian economy has reached a critical point, with capital reserves running low and few positive indicators for the future.

Saudi Arabia will cut production by 500,000 barrels per day – on top of reductions of 1 million b/d enacted earlier this year. The kingdom is trying to prop up prices to cover costs for $450 billion in capital projects. No other OPEC+ members have announced cutback plans yet.

Dated deliveries of Brent are at $85.25/bbl, now for October front month settlement, while West Texas Intermediate is at $81.75/bbl, still for September front month, leaving the crack between the two benchmarks around $4/bbl.

Low-sulfur gas oil moved above $900 per ton last week but has since retreated to $888/t, still for August front month. All of these prices were obtained from London ICE trading late Aug. 7.


Group I exports from Europe still are not happening. Demand in some destination markets showed signs of reviving last week, but there is hardly a surplus of material for competitive export sales. The other factor that could be weighing on producers minds is that base oil premium over diesel had narrowed to a recent low, due prices for the former remaining weak while those for the latter climb.

Confusing reports are still coming out about the fate of the Livorno, Italy, refinery, including its base oil plant. Some reports suggest base oil production will resume at any moment, and others maintain not until October.

Prices listed here for Group I exports from Europe are still only notional but are raised this week to between $860/t and $925/t for solvent neutral 150, $980/t-$1,075/t for SN500 or SN600 and $1,160/t-$1,235/t for bright stock, all on an FOB basis.

European Group I producers selling within the region had rolled July prices into August, but levels are now rising. August will still be quiet, but a few demand spikes were reported during last week. Even lube blending operations down for maintenance joined the buying, looking to top up inventories ahead of potential price hikes. Demand was forecast to pick up toward the end of the third quarter, but it may happen sooner if many buyers believe that markups loom.

The upward pressure stems partly from vacuum gas oil values, which have risen 25% over the past month.

There are rumors that Mol’s base oil plant in Hungary could emerge from its maintenance turnaround within the next 10 days – well ahead of schedule.

Prices for Group I sales within Europe are now at €940/t-€1,020/t for SN150, €1,050/t-€1,135/t for SN500 and €1,260/t-€1,295/t for bright stock.

The euro’s exchange rate against the U.S. dollar weakened slightly to $1.09975 on Aug. 7. Therefore the hypothetical price differential between Group I exports and sales within the region narrowed to €135/t-€200/t, exports being lower.

Group II prices around Europe were steady the past week but now face upward pressure thanks to feedstock costs. Values have already climbed for some buyers making spot purchases.

There could be an increase in the number imported barrels from the U.S. that hit the European market because Phillipps 66 is primed to start exporting to the EU. U.S. markets report surplus material, so options across the Atlantic are appealing. Another U.S. producer is also promoting sales of Group II grades in the European arena.

Prices offered for prompt sales and delivery on an FCA basis ex Rotterdam continue to be heard at $950/t for 100 neutral, $920/t for 220N and $1,000/t for 600N. At the same time, a European producer raised prices for some customers by €12/t.

Overall, the ranges for Group II prices are slightly modified this week to €945/t-€1,110/t ($1,040/t-$1,225/t) for 100N, 150N and 220N and to €1,275/t-€1,335/t ($1,400/t-$1,475/t) for 600N. These levels apply to a large range of Group II oils from European, U.S., Asia-Pacific and Red Sea sources, imported in bulk and in flexi-tanks. Among the lighter grades, 100N and 150N are typically priced higher than 220N due to their popularity.

Group III Suprices seem to still be in near freefall, continuing to decrease even as crude and feedstock costs head in the opposite direction. Some fear that suppliers and producers may start to look at alternative markets where demand and prices are rising. Markets such as India and China are starting from lower levels, but are catching up with Europe.

Gas-to-liquids Group III+ base oils produced in Qatar are rumored to be offered on the open market to any and all interested parties. With a large cargo have recently arrived from Qatar, it is now clear, that the position of the managing partner producing these oils has changed dramatically. Smaller quantities transported in flexies had come to Europe from Far Eastern traders.

Some very low offers were heard last week for Group III sales in Europe – €1,400/t for 4 cSt and €1,300/t for 8 cSt. Such numbers would have been unheard of until recently, when distributors and resellers are desperately trying to move material out of tank – apparently in some cases at a loss.

Group III oils with partial slates of finished lubricant approvals or without approvals are down again to €1,400/t-€1,555/t for 4 cSt and €1,300/t-€1,545/t for 8 cSt, while 6 cSt is higher at €1,500/t-€1,555/t, all on an FCA basis ex Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam or Northwestern Europe.

Group IIIs from the Cartagena, Spain, refinery with full slates of approvals remain at €1,895/t-€1,955/t for 4 and 6 cSt. Small quantities of 8 cSt are selling for €1,875/t-€1,900/t. Prices for all three grades are on an FCA basis ex hubs in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, Northwestern Europe and Spain.

Baltic and Black Seas

In line with proposals to alter Baltic reporting, news is now confined to base oil shipments from Svetly and Riga and if known, the potential destinations for these cargoes. This week there is news that two large parcels at 10,000-12,000 tons are being assessed for delivery into Gebze in Turkey. The exact timing of these cargoes is not known, as they are only identified as shipping inquiries. Dates will be subject to suitable vessels being chartered, and the size and composition of the cargoes may alter, depending on size and availability of vessels to load. There may be difficulties in finding tonnage to ship these parcels, since Lukoil are limited to non-European Union and other allied flagged vessels, leaving only Turkish or Russian flagged ships as possibilities.

The corollary activities are reporting a number of cargoes moving into the Baltic with base oils from alternative sources in mainland Europe and beyond. Two cargoes are discharging in Klaipeda that have been identified – one carrying a quantity of rerefined base oils from Kalundborg, and another parcel with Group I grades loading out of a northwestern French port, with around 3,700 tons of material on board. There have been reports of deliveries of Group III base stocks in flexies going into Lithuanian and Latvian ports for onward delivery to blenders in those countries.

The Lotos/PK Orlen tender for 4,000 tons of Group I base oils out of Gdansk has been awarded, but the beneficiary of this cargo is not identified as yet. The offer was for 2,000 tons of SN 150 and 2,000 tons of SN 500, and the quantity is believed to have been loaded in the last few days. Prices are heard for the SN 150 at $840/t and for the quantity of SN 500 at $935/t.

Turkey has gone exceptionally quiet, with only Russian SN 150 and SN 500 imported into this market.

Russian base oils being imported into Turkey have delivered prices indicated at around $855/t for quantities of SN 500, with SN 150 levels at around $840/t, all basis CFR Turkish ports. Although a number of attempts have been made to deliver cargoes from the Baltic to Gebze, this operation has been both difficult and expensive from the freight angle. Hence, most of the imported Group I grades come in from Volgograd refinery, but some supplies have been routed by train from Perm refinery in the north and have been then transferred to delivery across the Black Sea. This operation may also be less than economic to undertake.

The Algerian cargo that was purchased by Turkish traders and did not have Regulation for Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals accreditation has mysteriously fallen off the radar and may have been discharged, awaiting REACH approval. How this can be handled is a complete unknown, since it is believed that unless base oils are previously approved under REACH, regulations they cannot be used under any circumstances.

The 6,000-ton cargo comprised of three Group I grades is thought to have discharged in Gebze, with quantities noted as 3,000 tons of SN 500, 2,500 tons of SN 150 and 500 tons of bright stock 150. If the cargo was discharged, then CIF-delivered prices for the neutrals were SN 150 at $875/t and SN 500 at $995/t.

Tupras from Izmir refinery continues to sell all production as exports, rather than try to sell the production to local buyers on a truck-by-truck basis. Reports are that local blenders cannot afford the high prices being demanded by Tupras having aligned their local selling prices – converted into Turkish lira from dollars – to a certain well-known base oil pricing report. The numbers were aligned with the domestic high prices contained in this report.

However, reported prices for the sale tender were much lower with SN 150 at $850/t, SN 500 at $945/t and bright stock at $1,200/t, basis FOB Marmaras.

Mediterranean sources for Group I base oils were limited to only ExxonMobil out of Sicily or Valencia. ExxonMobil has a 4,400-ton cargo of Group I grades discharging in Alexandria and Gebze, so they are able to supply part-cargo into the Turkish market. Prices for this parcel are not known but will be priced higher than any Russian barrels going into the Turkish market. Latest delivered price levels are heard at around $985/t for SN 150, with SN 500 at around $1,055/t basis CIF Gebze. Russian barrels are priced around $200/t lower.

Group II ex-tank prices remain unchanged, with levels at €1,050/t-€1,075/t for the three lower vis products – 100N, 150N and 220N – with 600N at €1,240/t-€1,265/t. Supplies of Group II grades can be sourced from the Red Sea, the United States, South Korea and Rotterdam or from hub storage in Valencia.

Partly-approved Group III base oils sold by agents or distributors on an FCA basis, or on a truck delivered basis, are priced lower this week and are now assessed at €1,695/t-€1,755/t FCA. These prices have come under pressure with a great deal of material now in tank for resale.   

Fully-approved Group III grades delivered into Gemlik from Cartagena refinery are priced lower and are now considered to be at €2,025/t-€2,060/t FCA. Small cargoes at €1,200/t-€1,800/t cover this requirement.

Middle East

Red Sea shipping news has a number of cargoes preparing to load out of Yanbu and Jeddah for the west coast of India and the United Arab Emirates with what appears to be a return to large parcels of up to 18,000 tons per cargo, possibly made up of both Group I and Group II base oil grades. The U.A.E. cargo will call at Hamriyah, in addition to Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah. Another smaller cargo of around 10,000 tons will discharge partly into Mumbai anchorage and also into Karachi in Pakistan. An incoming cargo is 5,000 tons of Group III grades moving from Onsan in South Korea to Yanbu. This supply for local blending is made from S-Oil, a company partly owned by Saudi Aramco, as is Luberef in Saudi Arabia.

In Middle East Gulf regions, activity has waned due to the high temperatures and this being the time of year when most expats head home for cooler weather to Europe and India in the main. Most decision makers will only return to Middle East Gulf sites after the hot summer period.

Trade does continue, however, with a number of cargoes arriving from Saudi Arabia and another parcel of 5,000 tons from Limas terminal in Turkey. The latter will be comprised mainly of Russian SN 500, with a smaller quantity of SN 150, and will discharge in Hamriyah port sometime during second half of August. The quantities of base oils moving from Yanbu will be Group II grades, 

The large Group I and Group II cargo from the Red Sea will discharge in Fujairah, then Ras Al Khaimah and finally in Hamriyah. A following cargo of around 12,000 tons will load from Yanbu and will discharge during August in Jebel Ali. This cargo will be made up of Group II grades contributing to the ever larger U.A.E. supply of Group II base oils.

Lukoil continue to send Russian base oils into the U.A.E., which are being used in third party toll blending operations for lower quality finished lubricants, which are then exported to East Africa and other Middle East Gulf locations.

Group I base oil cargoes are constantly arriving into the U.A.E. from Saudi Arabia, Russia, Thailand and India, but with practically no Iranian base oils now imported into the U.A.E., other than rubber process oil that is bridged and stored in Ras Al Khaimah before being sent to South Korean receivers in 3,000-ton lots. This has become a regular supply, with rubber process oil used in the tire manufacturing industry. 

The Russian export cargoes appear to have been whittled down to one parcel. However, it may be that shipping problems are limiting the ability of the sellers to load these cargoes on a CIF basis. Receivers in the U.A.E. are not pleased to have letters of credit opened and remaining open for some time prior to sellers finding suitable shipping to carry these cargoes. There are still shipping enquiries for vessels to take larger parcels from Svetly terminal in Kaliningrad, but these parcels are firm, yet are only shipping inquiries.

Accessing suitable vessels that have to be approved by receivers to take these cargoes remains a problem. Contracts and prices have been finalized and letters of credit opened, but there remain considerable delays from no vessels being located to load the contracted quantities. Some of the receivers in the U.A.E. requested that they buy Russian base oils on an “open credit” basis, without having to open letters of credit that can expire due to delays. It is believed that Russian sellers have considered this option and have gone along with this process.

Group III cargoes continue to be delivered into India, China, the United States and Europe markets, with various charterers who are also distributors in the receiving countries, fixing vessels to load out of Sitra and Al Ruwais. The large cargo of up to 24,000 tons loaded and sailed from Ras Laffan in Qatar for Shell. This cargo sailed west, possibly to Europe, where the Group III market anticipates that this cargo will go into general distribution, rather than be retained within the Shell system. Part of the cargo will be used by Shell affiliates for internal blending operations.

Netbacks for partly-approved base oils loading out of Al Ruwais and both partly-approved and unapproved Group III base oils loading from Sitra are taken lower, with selling levels coming off in the main markets such as Europe and U.S. Netback returns are assessed at $1,565/t-$1,625/t for 4 centiStoke, 6 cSt and 8 cSt partly-approved and non-approved Group III base oils.

Netback levels are derived from regional selling prices, less marketing, margins, handling and estimated freight costs.

Group II base oils resold by distributors and traders on an FCA basis in the U.A.E. are currently sourced from European, U.S., Asia-Pacific and Red Sea producers. Grades are sold ex-tank U.A.E., or on a truck-delivered basis within the U.A.E. and Oman.

Prices remain unchanged at $1,520/t-$1,465/t for the light vis grades 100N, 150N and 220N, with 600N at $1,570/t-$1,565/t. The high ends of the ranges refer to road tank wagon deliveries in the U.A.E. and Oman.


South Africa sources confirmed that the large base oil cargo has loaded or is currently loading out of Rotterdam and Fawley. The vessel will supply into Durban and then additionally, quantities into Kenya and Tanzania. The vessel will not call at Conakry and Abidjan – these supplies will be conducted using a different vessel and will include 5,000 tons to cover the Ghana tender going into Tema. It is thought that draft restrictions in the West African port make a “milk run” delivery difficult, while receivers in South and East Africa require the full cargo quantity.

With this report’s source for prime information in a resort in Jamaica, Nigerian base oil trade is rather slow. Add on the rainy season and the Nigerian elections with all the ructions and disputes which those caused, and business is not at its best.

There are inquiries for base oil cargoes to arrive into Apapa during August, but progress has been slow with the usual hold-ups and problems. A number of traders are looking to source material from various supply points around the globe, with some more potentially suitable than others. Red Sea supplies out of Yanbu and Jeddah are once again on the table, as are Russian supplies out of the Baltic. The favorite still, however, is a co-loading out of the U.S. Gulf Coast and U.S. Atlantic Coast. Depending on available vessels, one trader will try to put together a cargo at 15,000-20,000 tons comprised of SN 150, SN 500 and SN 900 base oils.

There are the usual problems and delays with multiple buyers and various types of payment instruments and methods. Nigerian banks remain a disaster, with the country still short of U.S. dollars. Letters of credit cannot be issued, and there are also problems getting the importation certification. That can cause problems at discharge, with vessels incurring detention and demurrage, which will never be paid to suppliers.

Prices for a cargo delivered in June had confirmed CFR numbers at levels of $1,020/t for SN 150, SN 500 at $1,070/t and SN 900 at $1,150/t.

Offers for cargoes for August will be lower due to the level of competition in the Nigerian market. Some offers contain prices that are clearly unachievable, and which misguide buyers and cause delays and deliberations to proceedings. FOB numbers may have been lower, but recent days may suggest otherwise, with crude and feedstock prices moving higher.

However, CFR prices are still estimated to fall in the following ranges: SN 150 at $1,000/t-$1,045/t, SN 500 at $1,060/t-$1,175/t and SN 900 at $1,125/t-$1,265/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.

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