EMEA Base Oil Price Report


Base oil markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa are anticipating increased demand for finished lubricants in the fourth quarter and therefore an uptick in demand for all types of base oils.

Throughout the regions outlooks for major economies appears to be brightening, growth starting to kick in, and perhaps inflation and interest rates starting to fall. Any progress along these lines will encourage new investment and promote economic growth, both of which have been sadly lacking during the first part of this year.

Energy markets are causing some uncertainty, as the past week was hectic for prices. Crude oil costs breached $98 per barrel last week, leading forecasters to predict they would burst through the $100 mark sooner rather than later, but on Monday this week, dated deliveries of Brent crude fell sharply to below $92/bbl – a level not seen since three weeks ago, before implementation of production cutbacks by Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The retreat of crude costs relieved some of the upward pressure on base oil values. Some forecasts this week predict crude prices will return to the low- to mid-$80s due to declining demand in major economies such as China.

Some argue that base oil prices have not caught up to crude increases the past couple months, but with demand still relatively suppressed, markets may be balanced even though refiners have cut back on base oil production rates by shifting feedstock to production of distillates.

Dated deliveries are at $91.95/bbl, down around $2 from last week, but now for December front month settlement. West Texas Intermediate crude has also fell but only to $90.15/bbl, for November front month, reducing the crack between the benchmarks to a quite narrow margin.

Low-sulfur gas oil values also weakened Monday, though they remain high at $980 per metric ton, still for October front month. All of these prices were obtained from London ICE trading late Oct. 2.


There still are no export sales of API Group I oils from Europe, but a tender to buy 6,000 tons of three Group I grades was issued from Sonatrach in Algeria. Strictly speaking, this is not European product, but coming as it does from the Mediterranean, it could reflect that European exports are closer to resuming.

The tender closed on Sept. 19 and was won by BGN, a crude and products trader not previously active on the base oil scene. Prices were heard to be $800 per ton for solvent neutral 150, $925/t for SN500 and $1,180/t for bright stock, all on an FOB basis. The main grade is believed to have been SN500, and the cargo apparently is bound for Brazil.

This shipment at least gives indications of export pricing, and the above levels make it obvious why Group I producers in Europe are not keen to enter the export market since sales within Europe offer much higher numbers.

The latest news from Livorno, Italy, is that Eni will have around 1,000 tons of SN150 in mid-October and will then be up and running following a maintenance shutdown. Other grades will be offered in due course. Output will primarily cover the Italian market, but surplus material may be offered to traders for export destinations such as West Africa, the Middle East Gulf and India. South America may also be considered as an alternative following the Sonatrach cargo.

Prices for Group I exports, listed here only for comparison purposes, are lower this week at between $800/t and $925/t for SN150, $925/t-$1,000/t for SN500 and $1,180/t-$1,300/t for bright stock, all on an FOB basis. Prices for the Sonatrach sale mentioned above are taken as the low ends of price ranges.

Prices for Group I sales within Europe rose for most suppliers from Oct. 1 but by smaller amounts – €20/t-€50/t – than the hikes of €150/t-€200/t. Some suppliers explained that they did not want to stifle demand heading into a season when they normally try to reduce inventories.

Demand remains sluggish in the main markets, such as Germany and France, but Mediterranean markets are showing a little more verve, and Spain and Greece are becoming quite buoyant. Some upward pricing pressure may remain since the premium to diesel is still in negative territory, but supply and demand do seem balanced.

SN150 is now assessed at €1,075/t-€1,160/t, SN500 at €1,125/t-€1,210/t and bright stock at €1,285/t-€1,350/t. The euro’s exchange rate against the United States dollar dipped to $1.05017 Oct. 2. The price differential between Group I exports from Europe and sales within the region widened to €160/t-€245/t, exports being lower.

Group II prices in Europe have faced the same upward pressure but so far have not risen this month. Their premium to low-sulfur gas oil had fallen to the lowest level since March 2022, but gas oil prices have started to retreat.

Values are unchanged this week 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. 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 and flexi-tanks. Typically 100N and 150N are priced higher than 220N due to generally higher usage in Europe of the two lighter grades.

Editor’s note: Last week’s report carried news regarding possible changes to Adnoc’s Group III distribution set-up in Europe. It can now be categorically stated that no such changes are due to take effect, and that false information was received from market sources that will no longer be consulted. Adnoc and its distributor state that they remain resolutely committed to the European Group III market. The author conveys apologies to the relevant parties.

Group III prices have started to slide again after stabilizing for a brief period. The Group III premium to diesel is at the lowest level for more than a year, piling pressure on producers to push selling numbers higher. The problem is that Europe current has a surplus of this category and that demand is lacking.

Prices are weaker than at the beginning of last month and continue to erode with buyers incessantly requesting discounts from offers and then countering revised numbers with demands for further markdowns.

Rerefined base oils are now to be included under Europe’s collection of Group III oils with partial slates of finished lubricant approvals or with no approvals.

Prices down this week on the lower end of ranges at €1,360/t-€1,490/t for 4 centiStoke, the lower number pertaining to rerefined product available on an FCA basis in Germany. Eight cSt is placed at €1,415/t-€1,455/t and 6 cSt at €1,465/t-€1,495/t, both on an FCA basis ex Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam or Northwestern Europe.

Prices for Group III oils from Cartagena, Spain, which have a full slate of approvls, are taken slightly lower this week, as suppliers strive to retain market share. Four and 6 cSt grades are at €1,845/t-€1,895/t, and small quantities of 8 cSt at €1,800/t-€1,825/t, all on an FCA basis sales ex hubs in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, Northwestern Europe and Spain.

Baltic and Black Seas

With domestic base oil prices within Russian raised by $30/t a couple of weeks back, it would be reasonable to assume that Baltic prices for Russian export barrels of Group I base oils would have risen in line with internal pricing. Prices for FOB numbers for SN 150 loading from Svetly increased to $640/t, while SN 500 is raised by the same amount to $680/t.

More and more instances of pirated or smuggled Russian and Belarus base oils are coming to light, but it turns out that this is not a new practice – that supplies have been continuing long after the European Union ban on Russian imports that was supposed to be effective for contracted supplies up until Feb. 5 this year. From these discoveries it also became known that quantities of additives are also being made available to blenders based in EU Baltic states. What other products are being smuggled is anyone’s guess but supplies of fuels such as motor gasoline and diesel are not out of the question.

EU officials in Brussels do not appear to be interested in stamping out these imports, leaving the borders open to “mafia”-supplied quantities of almost any commodity required.

The base oils are blended with other legitimate EU – and other – base stocks to disguise the existence of Russian material. The composite blend is then used to blend finished lubes, with lubricants then being sold as EU-origin. A price differential of up to $500/t for Russian base oils is enough to make the risks acceptable. 

Legal imports from European sources are finding their way into the Baltic markets, with supplies loaded out of German Dutch and Belgian ports through direct sales from producers and also through traders bringing in Group I base oils from the United States and Saudi Arabia.  

With Group I prices rising, bids for new tenders for Lotos and PK Orlen material out of Gdansk would now be priced around $1,025/t for SN150, SN 500 at $1,120/t, and bright stock at around $1,300/t FOB Gdansk.

The Turkish base oil market is depressed, relying almost entirely on Russian imports of SN 150 and SN 500 to supply blending operations across Turkey. Buyers are unable to afford imported dollar priced alternatives from producers such as Motor Oil Hellas or ExxonMobil. Perhaps new availabilities out of Livorno will be more competitively priced for Turkish receivers if the buyers can lay hands on dollars to be able to make the purchases.

Companies based in Turkey cannot access dollars to be able to purchase cargoes of base oil from outside sellers. Offers have been made from Aghio to receivers in Derince, but with prices too high, receivers were unable to accept offers.

Petrol Ofisi, a Turkish national company, issued a tender to buy 2,000 tons of 4 centiStoke Group III base oils, which would normally be supplied from Russian sellers Tatneft. Availabilities are tight, apparently, and the suggested winner of the contract will possibly be a South Korean supplier. The prices are heard to be very competitive but are not confirmed as yet.

Prices for Russian Group I base oils appear to have moved higher, although how this business is transacted is not clear. Some sources have said that there are government-to-government guarantees in place for payments and that Central Government in Turkey issue authorized supply requests for quantities of base oil – and other petroleum products – for importation into Turkey. Pricing is not transparent, but sources have suggested that SN 150 would be sold at around €775/t, with SN 500 at €800/t. The interesting part is that sales are being conducted in euros rather than dollars.

Med suppliers cannot compete against Russian prices, since with estimated CIF prices for SN 500 now around $1,175/t CIF Gebze, almost $400/t higher than the Russian levels.

Tupras Group I base oils Izmir refinery have prices aligned to the highs of a well known base oil report, putting the prices out of reach for the majority of buyers in Turkey even in Turkish lira. Base oils are ex-rack in trucks with prices noted with no change from last week. It is thought that numbers may change later this week, but in the meantime SN 100 is at $1,100/t, SN 150 is offered at $950/t, SN 500 is at $1,010/t and bright stock is quoted at $1,200/t. These are dollar equivalent prices. 

Group II ex-tank prices are maintained, with no increases noted as yet for Group II prices. Current levels are put at around €1,145/t-€1,175/t for the three lower vis products – 100N, 150N and 220N – with 600N at €1,345/t-€1,370/t. Supplies of Group II grades can be sourced from the Red Sea, the U.S., South Korea or Rotterdam.

Partly-approved Group III base oils resold by distributors on an FCA basis, or on a truck-delivered basis, are taken lower this week, with Russian 4 cSt grade from Tatneft now below $1,400/t, at €1,345/t. Other suppliers are put at €1,585/t-€1,625/t FCA.

Smaller quantities of fully-approved Group III grades delivered into Gemlik from Cartagena refinery are also taken lower at €1,955/t-€1,995/t FCA. Cargoes of up to 1,800 tons cover these requirements for the small number of blenders that require access to fully-approved Group III base oils.

Middle East

From shipping reports a large number of cargoes are loading for Luberef out of Yanbu and Jeddah ports with Group I and Group II base oils. Group II cargoes are moving into the west coast of India and the United Arab Emirates. Smaller cargoes are loading for Karachi in Pakistan in addition to parcels arranged for Egyptian General Petroleum Corp. in Alexandria, where 3,000-ton parcels of bright stock are regularly delivered. Group II base oils are coming out of Yanbu for receivers in the U.A.E., with supplies moving into Hamriyah, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Jebel Ali.

Middle East Gulf base oil markets are buzzing, with various supplies of all types of base oil arriving from a large number of sources, including South Korea, Singapore, Rayong, and Rotterdam. Large Group I cargoes were being assessed from the U.S. With prices having risen and availabilities limited out of the U.S. Gulf since U.S refiners diverted feedstocks into distillate and gasoline production, base oil production has become less and more expensive. U.A.E. buyers are still looking at a couple of cargoes out of the U.S. Atlantic Coast that may be feasible, but with freight rates rising due to bunker costs increasing, and additional higher crew and insurance costs, Group I base oil cargoes may not work into the U.A.E.

The cargo of around 9,600 tons loading from Valencia and Augusta is on the high seas enroute to the U.A.E. The vessel will call at Yanbu as in previous voyages. It is hard to see why this call is being made, since Group I and Group II base oils are available from Yanbu, and any Group III requirements would be requested from the Saudi Aramco part-owned S-Oil from South Korea.

Russian barrels are on permanent offer for receivers in the U.A.E., with inquiries for vessels to load out of Limas terminal in Turkey and also from Svetly in the Baltic. As this report has discovered, Russian prices are very low. They are assessed to discharge into Hamriyah port at around $785/t for SN 150 and around $825/t for quantities of SN 500. The U.A.E. is a crucial destination for Russian base oils, with supplies used to manufacture toll- blended lubricants at very low prices. They are then distributed into Europe and the United Kingdom as finished lubricants with U.A.E. origin. It is not clear if Russian additives are also used to blend the lubes. Perhaps more information will be to hand following the Argus conference in Dubai. 

Group III cargoes from Middle East Gulf production hubs have loaded and are loading during October for receivers in India, China, the U.S. and Europe. Shell in Qatar is supplying two large cargoes into India and also into Europe after slowing down activity into India in particular. Other cargoes of 20,000-25,000 tons loaded for Singapore, mainland China, Europe and the U.S. Supplies of gas-to-liquids-produced Group III+ base oils are now widely available in Asia-Pacific and Europe. Previously, these oils were protected, not being resold directly as base oils to buyers in those regions.

Netbacks for the partly-approved base oils loading out of Al Ruwais and Sitra are taken a little lower because selling prices dipped in some main markets such as Europe and India. The opportunity to hike prices is not available to suppliers, since with poor demand and oversupply, options are not available at the moment. 

Netback returns are now assessed at $1,455/t-$1,510/t for 4 cSt, 6 cSt and 8 cSt partly-approved and non-approved Group III base oils.

Netbacks for Group III+ GTL-produced material out of Ras Laffan in Qatar are also assessed lower at around $1,530/t-$1,585/t, levels based on buying prices from traders in Singapore and selling prices in the European market.

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

Group II base oils 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. Base oils are sold ex-tank U.A.E., or on a truck-delivered basis within the U.A.E. and Oman.

Prices remain so far unchanged, but with global Group II prices on the cusp of rising, these levels may be under pressure to be adjusted next week. Numbers are 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.


South Africa shipping agents in Durban mentioned that yet another large base oil cargo will arrive into Durban before the year’s end. The quantity is not known yet, but this cargo may discharge in Durban, Mombasa and finally Dar-es-Salaam. Loading will take place out of Rotterdam and Fawley as usual, and all three base oil types will be on board. When more information is available this news will be updated with laycan and other dates.

Nigeria is finally getting back to “normal,” following the end of the rainy season, but with the fuel duty concessions being withdrawn and gasoline prices almost doubled, the picture for lubricants supplies has changed drastically. If this scenario continues, then demand for finished lubricants will be decimated, and the requirements for base oil and additives will also be less.

The supply picture into Nigeria has altered significantly, with another cargo organized from Singapore. It is thought that the same trader is involved with this second cargo of just over 10,000 tons in total. With the initial parcel arriving in Apapa anytime now, this second cargo will arrive possibly some time in early November. The freight costs of this operation have to be offset by the lower FOB prices available from this Singapore. The unit rate for the freight may be a little lower due to increased quantity of the cargo, and guessing the lump sum, the rate may come out at around $175/t.

Some resellers in the base oil business in Lagos pulled out of day-to-day base oil trading and will not go back into the market until local problems are overcome or solved. Access to dollars has to improve with the Nigerian government introducing rules where banks can access foreign currency without the hassle of bidding for dollars where some banks get nothing whilst others receive full allocation.

The U.S. cargo is due to load in the next couple of weeks and more information on the size and timing of the cargo should be available shortly. 

Russian supply options are being re-examined to deliver lower priced cargoes of Russian base oils into Nigeria. Supplies would be out of Svetly in Kaliningrad, but how the economics would work in unknown with the last Russian cargo to go into Nigeria sold on extended credit of 120-150 days, following bill of lading date.

CFR Apapa prices for the U.S. cargo are estimated at around $1,100/t for SN 150, $1,160/t for SN 500 and SN 900 at around $1,195/t.

With fundamentals as they are – and assuming no crude crashes or other major incidents – base oil prices will eventually be under pressure to rise.

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.

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