EMEA Base Oil Price Report


Base oil markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa are reeling from a developing situation where API Group I base oils no longer command a price premium over diesel and the premium over diesel for Group II and Group III are much reduced.

The situation has come about because diesel values are tracking rising crude oil costs while base oil prices have been slower to follow. Dated deliveries of Brent crude topped $91 per barrel on Sept. 11, the highest level since November 2022.

This has possibly resulted from production cutbacks from Saudi Arabia and Russia, combined with higher demand for crude. Receivers in China and India have relied on cheap Russian crude supplies over many months now and may have to tap other sources if that supply shrinks. The Chinese economy may not be firing on all cylinders, but India’s is growing at double-digit rates, thus increasing crude demand.

Although they usually lag, base oil values often eventually follow changes in crude and feedstock values, so the run-up in crude creates upward pressure on base oils.

Some pundits are forecasting that crude values will continue to climb, given the cutbacks to production and the market looking shorter. The Saudi and Russian export restrictions may benefit other OPEC+ members, which are dependent on crude revenues to support their economies.

Dated deliveries of Brent crude have reached $91.30 per barrel, around $3 higher than last week, for November front month settlement. West Texas Intermediate crude climbed more than $3 to $88/bbl, still for October front month. The crack between the benchmarks is narrowing each week and now stands at around $3/bbl.

Low-sulfur gas oil finally fell in with other markers following crude upward, rising to more than $80 to $1,000 per metric ton this week, still for September front month. That is the highest level since January. All of these prices were obtained from London ICE trading late Sept. 11.


There was a moment around the middle of last week when it seemed a market for European Group I exports might re-emerge. Unexpectedly, a cargo of 5,000-6,000 tons of solvent neutral 500 and bright stock was offered out of Livorno, Italy. Such an offer was doubly unexpected because the refinery had been down for about four months and had not received any crude oil deliveries during that time, making it unlikely the seller would have this quantity of base oil available now.

Traders bid for the cargo, perhaps looking to blend the bright stock and some of the SN500 to produce an SN900, which would have been welcomed into markets such as Nigeria.

The material was “sold” for $830/t for the SN500 and $1,185/t for the bright stock, but one day later the purchaser was told that the producer did not have the material and that the cargo did not exist!

All along it seemed strange that the supplier would sell this parcel into a lower-priced export market when Italian blenders were desperate for Group I. Indeed, it turned out to be pie in the sky. Market sources are still puzzling over what the exercise achieved. It certainly confused and angered one trader and their receivers in Apapa port in Nigeria.

Word from Livorno is that the refinery may resume production in October and that material may beavailable sometime in November.

After all of that, there is still no real export market for Group I grades from Europe, and if there was, prices would be substantially higher than those suggested for this phantom cargo.

Export prices are listed here only for comparison purposes. These prices are reckoned higher this week at between $975/t and $1,025/t for SN150, $1,065/t-$1,100/t for SN500 and $1,265/t-$1,320/t for bright stock.

Prices for Group I sales within Europe were raised Sept. 1 and still seem to face upward pressure from rising costs for crude and vacuum gas oil. With demand and supply in this market finely balanced, and with much greater incentives for refiners to devote more feedstock into the distillate pool, availabilities of Group I base oils may start to move shorter.

Demand remains positive, and there are few surplus barrels available. Some buyers are looking to take larger quantities of Group I base stocks to replenish inventories that were severely depleted during the first half of this year, but many are struggling to cover such requirements.

Prices are unchanged this week at €1,055/t-€1,120/t for SN150, €1,095/t-€1,200/t for SN500 and €1,265/t-€1,320/t for bright stock. The euro’s exchange rate against the United States dollar reached $1.07232 this week. The price difference between Group I sales within the region and a theoretical export market has swelled to €100/t-€165/t, exports being lower.

Group II prices in Europe may also be facing upward pressure from crude and feedstock costs, and as with Group I, that pressure could be amplified if the narrowing of the premium to diesel leads refiners to shift feedstock toward diesel production, thereby reducing base oil supply. The Group II premium is at its lowest level in a number of years – possibly just as demand is ready to rise.

The outlook for sales of industrial finished lubricants improved in recent weeks with indications that some economies are regaining their footing and that manufacturing could make a comeback. Automotive lubes, process oils and specialties are also showing a pick-up in activity, and when all is added together, this is not a good time for base oils to go short.

Clarification is required for a statement in last week’s report that feedstock prices had risen by more than 15% since July. To be specific, crude costs had risen more than 15% and are now up around 18% from July, but feedstocks have risen by around 35%.

Group II values are slightly higher this week, assessed at €1,135/t-€1,170/t ($1,215/t-$1,250/t) for 100 neutral, 150N and 220N and at €1,230/t-€1,275/t ($1,325/t-$1,375/t) for 600N. Normally 100N and 150N are priced higher than 220N due to demand and level of usage in Europe. All of these prices apply to a large range of Group II oils from Europe, the U.S., Asia-Pacific and Red Sea sources, imported in bulk and in flexi-tanks.

After falling significantly from higher levels earlier this year, Group III prices may face some upward pressure from rising feedstock costs. If Group II values rise, that could create additional upward pressure on Group III oils. However, much of the Group III being consumed in Europe – especially fluids with only partial slates of finished lubricant approvals or without approvals – come from sources in the Middle East Gulf, Malaysia and other parts of Asia-Pacific, and it could take some time for FOB increases in those markets to trickle down to FCA markups in Europe and the U.S.

Prices seem to have gained some stability but the threat of a global oversupply of Group III base oils is still very real, with new Chinese production hitting Asian markets and reducing opportunities for producers in Middle East Gulf refiners. Producers may be tempted to prioritize other markets such as Europe and the U.S., where margins are positive and demand rising.

Prices for Group III oils with partial slates of finished lubricant approvals or without approvals are unchanged at €1,485/t-€1,575/t for 4 centiStoke oils, €1,475/t-€1,545/t for 8 cst and €1,495/t-€1,585/t for 6 cSt, all on an FCA basis ex Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam or Northwestern Europe.

Prices for Group III oils with full slates of approvals, including European automotive engine oil specifications, are available only from the refinery in Cartagena, Spain, and are unchanged this week at €1,875/t-€1,925/t for 4 and 6 cSt at at €1,860/t-€1,885/t for 8 cSt, which is sold only in small quantities in Europe. All of these prices are on an FCA basis ex hubs in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, Northwestern Europe and Spain.

Baltic and Black Seas

Since Feb. 5 earlier this year the assumption has been that no Russian export barrels of base oil were making their way into European Union blenders, but this is apparently not the case. Although instances are rare, there are reports of Russian material finding its way into Latvia and Bulgaria probably by rail.

These reports follow on from news during last week that a number of Greek-registered vessels had been employed to carry Russian cargoes for petroleum products in addition to crude to markets in India and China. It has been suggested that although these “dark” vessels were originally under Greek flag, they may have been re-registered as Turkish owned, and are operated from bases in Turkey.

The same may have been happening with base oils, with some clandestine reports of Russian base oil moving into locations such as Cyprus. This may have been the Turkish region in the north, but rumors are that cross-border trades were also taking place.

Proof of these activities is not easy to correlate, but some suggestions heard last week were that because of extremely low prices, the temptation to use Russian barrels became too much for some unscrupulous blenders, who were able to disguise finished lubricants as being produced using legal blend stocks.

On amore positive note cargoes of various base oils are now frequenting Baltic ports importing material to cover a number of Latvian and Lithuanian blenders. A small cargo was loaded out of Gdansk for receivers in Liepaja, and this operation may be followed up with further supplies into that port.

The cargo of around 10,000 tons reported moving from Kaliningrad to Singapore has a vessel fixed clean to take this parcel. Shipping inquiries still abound for vessels to take material from Svetly to Gebze, but it appears that Turkish buyers have full tanks at the moment and are slow to produce finished lubricants which are tough to sell in export markets around the Black Sea.

Base oils offered out of Gdansk in a sale tender still have not been re-tendered and as far as can be verified, remain in tank and unsold. Lotos/PK Orlen is waiting to see where prices land, because with moves taking place in Group I markets, prices are escalating, and there may be an opportunity to sell at higher rates. With prices rising, offers would now have to be around $1,020/t for SN150, SN 500 at $1,095/t, and bright stock at $1,310/t FOB Gdansk.

Turkey remains dull, with the economy showing few signs of recovery. Inflation is still running high, but the Central Bank interest rates may have started to have an effect, following the hike to 26% and with further hikes of up to 30% perhaps to come before the year end. The government still insists that banks are not to issue dollars to traders to be able to open letters of credit to purchase base oils from suppliers such as Motor Oil Hellas or ExxonMobil.

There was a little more activity last week, with some traders looking for European material, but with the financial problems being inflicted on them by their own government, it is difficult to see how trading can be done. Some players have talked to this report about using sister companies located elsewhere in Europe to act on their behalf, but how import documentation is achieved is an unknown at this time, since only Turkish domiciled companies can import or act as receivers.   

Russian base stocks still form the majority of the base oil imports going into Turkey, with prices moving upwards slightly, perhaps as a result of fundamentals moving upwards, but levels are still very low. SN 150 was confirmed CIF Gebze at $795/t, with quantities of SN 500 at $825/t. These prices will remain valid until the end of September.

Mediterranean sources have almost deserted supplying Group I base oils into Turkish receivers, with prices rising again this week. Turkish receivers just cannot afford to purchase on the international markets. Competing against Russian prices is practically impossible, with estimated delivered prices for SN 500 now having to be pitched around $1,155/t CIF Gebze, $300/t or more higher than Russian offers. That said, blenders are unable to afford the local prices posted by Tupras from Izmir refinery, which are linked to a weekly published price report.

CIF prices from Mediterranean suppliers would be around $1,065/t for SN 150, with SN 500 around $1,155/t basis CIF Gebze. 

Group II ex-tank prices are maintained, but may be susceptible to pressure to raise levels, but with current levels around €1,145/t-€1,175/t for the three lower vis products – 100N, 150N and 220N – and 600N at €1,345/t-€1,370/t. Supplies of Group II grades may be sourced from the Red Sea, the U.S,, South Korea or Rotterdam.

Partly-approved Group III base oils resold by agents or distributors on an FCA basis, or on a truck-delivered basis, are unchanged, with Russian 4 cSt grade from Tatneft priced at $1,400/t. Other suppliers, such as Adnoc, Petronas and Shell, with Bapco barrels from Sitra, have prices maintained, assessed at €1,625/t-€1,695/t FCA.

There are rumors that GTL-produced Group III+ is available in Turkey, although so far it has not been possible to confirm whether this material was brought in by traders moving material in flexies from Singapore, or whether these availabilities came from mainland Europe.

Smaller quantities of fully-approved Group III grades delivered into Gemlik from Cartagena refinery are also maintained and are at €1,995/t-€2,025/t FCA. Cargoes of 800-1,800 tons cover these requirements for a small number of blenders that require access to fully-approved Group III base oils.

Middle East

There appear to be many cargoes loading out of Yanbu and Jeddah with both Group I and Group II base oils coming out of Yanbu refinery, while the facility at Jeddah only adds SN 150 and SN 500 to the mix. A lot of the material coming out of Saudi Arabia is moving into the United Arab Emirates, with less material going into India where Indian refiners have the “luxury” of procuring vast quantities of cheap Russian crude oil which allows them to produce large quantities of Group I base oils that are surplus to Indian requirements, these supplies find their way into the U.A.E., competing with Group I cargoes from Yanbu and Jeddah. It would appear that Luberef is attempting to place another Group I cargo into northwest Europe, and there are talks of Group II material also making its way on to the European scene.

Another incoming cargo of Group III base oils will discharge in Yanbu. This material comes into Yanbu for in-house blending operations and is supplied from S-Oil in South Korea, that company being a sister company to Luberef, being partly owned by Saudi Aramco.

Middle East Gulf markets are getting back to normal, following the summer recess, with blenders stepping up operations to purchase large parcels of Group I and Group II base oils from Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and India. Base oil business has started to pick up, with a number of traders active in the market looking for material to import into the United Arab Emirates. There is a large demand for all types of base oils, with transformer oil manufacturers such as Apar in Hamriyah taking large cargoes of light Korean grades to produce transformer oils and electrical oils.

Buyers have issued a number of inquiries to local and international traders based in the U.A.E., the United States and Europe for quantities of Group I base oils in large quantities of up to 25,000 tons per cargo. Prices are crucial to importers, and these mainstream supplies are set to compete against Russian supplies which can be sold into the U.A.E. at amazingly low prices.

Russian barrels are offered for regular receivers in Hamriyah from Limas terminal in Turkey as a bridging point for supplies coming from Volgograd and Perm refineries. There are also shipping enquiries for base oils to load out of Kaliningrad for the U.A.E., although this is a difficult and expensive operation because of the freight angle. Russian prices are extremely flexible when it comes to large cargoes which can be dumped into markets like the U.A.E. These are important outlets for Russian base oils, although trade may slow down, with maintenance schedules about to commence.

Prices heard for Russian base stocks were heard to be exceptionally low, and while not absolutely confirmed, were heard from a trusted source this week at $885/t for quantities of SN 150, and $925/t for larger quantities of SN 500.

Group II cargoes were fixed from sources in South Korea, where both GS Caltex and SK offer for regular supplies into Hamriyah and jebel Ali. S-Oil also supply to receivers in Hamriyah.  

Reciprocal trade in the form of a 3,000-ton cargo of rubber process oil was loaded out of Ras Al Khaimah for receivers in Korea, this being the first parcel for some time. with trade getting back to normal. This is Iranian origin with smaller quantities stored in Ras Al Khaimah until a cargo of around 3,000 tons is put together then shipped to Ulsan.

Group III base oil exports from the three Middle East Gulf production centers have now loaded and are about to be delivered into India, China, U.S. and Europe. Cargoes are from the U.A.E., Qatar and Bahrain. From Qatar, Shell has supplied around 47,000 tons in three cargo lots into India over the past three months. This is the largest quantity delivered into any market, although cargoes of around 25,000 tons have loaded for China, Europe and the U.S.

Netbacks for partly-approved base oils loading out of Al Ruwais and Sitra are maintained at levels assessed last week, with selling prices perhaps starting to recover in the European market. Demand remains strong in the U.S., with shipments for the U.S. distributor leaving Al Ruwais during September. Increasing raw material costs are being examined at the moment, but sellers Adnoc appear to be content with returns from both the U.S and European markets, even at lower selling levels than previously noted. Increases to FOB and hence delivered prices may start to kick in if feedstock costs continue to rise, with rumored increases of around $50/t-$70/t.

Netback returns continue being assessed at $1,470/t-$1,535/t, for 4 centiStoke, 6 cSt and 8 cSt partly-approved and non-approved Group III base oils.

Netbacks for GTL material coming out of Ras Laffan in Qatar are estimated to come in at around $1,550/t-$1,600/t, but these numbers are estimated, based on prices from traders in Singapore and selling prices in heard Europe.

Netback levels are established from various distributors’ selling prices, minus estimated marketing, margins, handling and freight costs.

Group II base oils being sold by distributors and resellers on an FCA basis in the U.A.E. are 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.

The recently amended prices are maintained and continue to be assessed at $1,455/t-$1,485/t for the light vis grades 100N, 150N and 220N, with 600N at $1,585/t-$1,610/t. The high ends of the ranges refer to road tank wagon deliveries in the U.A.E. and Oman.


Durban sources reconfirmed the large cargo loaded out of Rotterdam and Fawley has sailed and is giving an estimated time of arrival in Durban of Oct. 27. The vessel is currently on the high seas, en route to South Africa.

In Nigeria it is still raining. Reports confirm that base oil business is slow and slowing, with finished lubricant demand dwindling because of the removal of the fuel subsidies, which resulted in a doubling for prices, making driving unaffordable for most in Lagos. Reports are that roads were quiet, and this will continue and may even become worse, with traffic missing.

One trader has been offering prices to receivers in Apapa that are deemed unworkable by others trying to supply cargoes, while surrounded by all the usual problems of finance, banking and red tape.

Buyers in Nigeria are resigned to facing the facts regarding prices, which will be under pressure to move up due to the crude and feedstock increases that are starting to affect the markets, whether it be from the U.S. or potentially from Europe. Buyers are looking at new prices and have decided that it is just not worth importing base oils into the market at this time, because trying to make money on the deals is impossible.

The problems speak for themselves, with escalating FOB prices, increasing freight rates due to bunker prices, rising insurance and crew costs. Also, buyers are not prepared to increase finished lubricant prices, saying that the Nigerian market just cannot accept higher numbers. So there is a squeeze on, with some players deciding to pull out of the base oil scene until elements improve one way or another.

One trader has astutely bought quantities of bright stock sometime back and will be able to supply a cargo at acceptable margins. The cargo will load early in October from the U.S., but it is unsure as whether this cargo will load entirely from the U.S. Gulf or may two-port-load, using another load port on the U.S. Atlantic Coast.

The Singapore-sourced cargo of around 8,700 tons should have completed loading and is due to arrive in Apapa sometime later this month. The reported freight rate was exceptionally high and was reported as a lump sum that would equate to a rate of $197/t. FOB Singapore numbers would have been around $695/t for the SN 150, SN 500 at around $835/t and SN 900 estimated after blending bright stock. That would have been priced at $875/t and SN 500, giving an FOB price of around $845/t, making this cargo possible after freight, margins and demurrage are taken into account

The CFR prices for this cargo are expected to have levels of around $1,100/t for SN 150, $1,160/t for the SN 500 and SN 900 at around $1,195/t.

The exchange rate of the naira to the U.S. dollar has sunk to 930N/U.S. dollar, making base oil business even less attractive than a couple of months ago. This will lead to higher delivered prices for base oils, with some receivers paying in local naira before traders have to exchange the currency into dollars on the black market. The Nigerian government has compounded the problems by the imposition of a 1% import duty on the value of the cargo being imported.

Given current fundamentals, there will be pressure on base oil prices to rise. Numbers may not be far off June and July levels at $1,020/t for SN 150, SN 500 at $1,070/t, and SN 900 at $1,150/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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