EMEA Base Oil Price Report


The increasing hostilities in and around the Gaza Strip are severely disrupting base oil supply lines in the area, and lubricant blending operations in Israel have been suspended due to a lack of raw materials.

Agents and distributors working with the Israeli government are looking to import a great deal more finished lubricants than normal, requiring supplies of these products to replenish and supplement both civilian and military inventories.

A number of blenders from outside the region have been approached to supply various lubricating oils to dealerships in Israel, and this could develop into a longer-term trade, boosting those who choose to get involved. The difficulties are the logistics of supplying goods into Israeli ports, with merchant vessels being protected and convoyed into dedicated ports by Israeli and other allied naval ships. The organization of supply of all goods and services has been impressively and speedily set up to cover domestic requirements in Israel.

Elsewhere, there are knock-on effects of the two wars raging in Ukraine and Gaza, with allies trying to maintain support to the two innocent governments involved in the strife. Base oil trade has been hit by trading routes having to be amended and changed with some vessels which had loaded base oil cargoes for Israeli receivers being diverted to neutral ports in Egypt and Turkey to enable discharging of the cargos in a timely manner. This has been no mean feat to accomplish, organizing storage space and changing voyage plans whilst being at sea.   

Typically with the arrival of November many in the base oil business are looking towards year-end and all that that implies. There is normally a slowing down in purchasing activities around this time of year, but things have been pretty slow for some time, with a lack of demand for base oils of all types.

API Group I and Group II are possibly faring better than Group III, with demand still relatively healthy for the former base oil groups. In Europe demand has continued to show positive, whilst Middle East Gulf has seen an upturn in base oil requirements over the past couple of months, with finished products being exported from sources in U.A.E. for example, to East and South Africa and also to markets further afield in SE Asia and South and Latin America.

Base oil prices across European, Middle Eastern and African regions have generally been seen to be firmer due to the relatively strong crude and product prices established over the past few weeks and months. Should crude remain steady at around current levels, then further increments can be expected for Group I and Group II base oils, even with the end of year approaching. API Group III as reported previously, is seeing slower demand coupled with rising availability from many new and existing sources, causing prices to remain under pressure following severe discounting during the Spring and Summer months.

Crude oil prices are steady with levels not far off prices reported last week. Comments have been received to the effect that with China’s economic growth stalling, and with only India showing real positive growth, the markets are adapting to the imposed production cutbacks from Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Dated deliveries of Brent crude currently trades at $86 per barrel, only a couple of dollars lower than last week, having now moved to January front month. West Texas Intermediate crude has also reflected a similar movement moving to a level of $81.80/bbl, still for December front month.

Low-sulfur gas oil prices are fickle and can vary substantially during a single trading session. This petroleum product posts at $889 per metric ton, still in respect of November front month for another week, prices can alter by $10-$20 per metric ton in a very short space of time depending on market sentiment and forecasts issued for the next few months. 

Prices were established from London ICE cob on 6th November 2023.


So far there has been little evidence of U.S. Group I supplies moving into the European market, although it is still early days in the Mexican ban on solvent neutrals being imported from U.S. sources which apparently were being used to dilute diesel being sold commercially and retailed across Mexico. This practice has been identified in many other countries, notably in Turkey some years back, although it is said that this illegal duty evasion has been stamped out by rigorous government spot testing of diesel supplies, or so it is purported.

It has been confirmed that U.S. supplies of light neutrals are still flowing into Mexico since licenses have been speedily issued to bona fide lubricant blenders, who continue to purchase from U.S. sources. The ‘ban’ has not caused a great deal of change. 

Following the recent increases applied to Group I base oils around Europe, an export market seems a distant possibility. Producers have cut back on run rates and subsequently Group I availabilities are more or less in balance with demand, and a surplus of material does not seem to be on the cards between now and the end of the year. Should U.S. imports start to come into Europe this balance could change, and availabilities could become longer, thus creating the possibility for an export market to reappear, but prices would have to fall dramatically from current domestic levels to become competitive in export destinations. 

Livorno has announced availabilities of all grades, but quantities of each grades are unknown with confusing speculation as to what is actually available and if these grades are to be pitched at the export markets. With the current price ideas it would seem that supplies will be confined to Italian blenders only with number for SN150 at around $1,075/t, SN500 at around $1,185/t and bright stock at $1,400/t. These price levels will not work into export destinations such as Nigeria and Turkey.

If there were export sales these would be classified under cargoes going into contracted receivers in West Africa from Rotterdam and Fawley, but these cargoes are routinely delivered to the same receivers, and have been going on for the long term.

Non-existent export prices are notional at best with SN150 levels are maintained again, being assessed between $900/t-$950/t, SN500 remains between $1,025/t-$1,100/t, and bright stock is also unchanged between $1,250/t-$1,335/t.

Group I domestic prices have all now been raised, and are now steady at the new levels. Following the increases announced there appears to have been no bactracking with levels being eroded. These increases have stuck and have now been adopted as the new norm.

As mentioned earlier, there have been no announcements of any Group I material coming into the European arena from U.S. sources, but if this were to happen, then prices may come under pressure, although traders would be unwise to drop prices just to make sales in Europe, when selling margins could be higher for imported material.

With crude and feedstock prices remaining steady there may not be any need for futher upward moves, with sellers prepared to see out the year at present levels having adjusted prices to maintain an acceptable base oil premium to diesel. This is all dependent on crude and diesel prices remaining around current levels, since if there were to be another spike for whatever geopolitical reason, then base oil prices may have to be reviewed.

Prices remain unchanged this week, having taken account last week of the November 1 upward shift. SN150 continues to be assessed between €1,165/t-€1,225/t, SN500 between €1,220/t-€1,300/t, and bright stock between €1,375/t-€1,450/t.

The euro exchange rate to the dollar has moved, posting on Monday 30th October at $1.07375.

Domestic prices had increased, and there is still no true export market, therefore the price differential remains as last, between €185/t-€275/t.

Group II prices around Europe are stable, following the large increases announced during the last couple of weeks. The last of the main suppliers brought prices into line with competition on Nov. 1, delaying the increase by about a week. Levels increased across all grades by up to $150/t, with the larger buyers absorbing increases at $90/t-$130/t.

The Group II base oil premium to diesel is now acceptable, with this statistic being the principal reasoning behind the scale of the increases. Group II base oils had been selling at a very small premium to diesel prices, which accounts for the large percentage increments applied to all Group II grades. The initial concerns from suppliers that price rises could weaken demand have been discounted with sellers commenting that demand remains good, and now margins are more acceptable to producers.

Prices are maintained, with numbers at €1,160/t-€1,220/t ($1,220/t-$1,280/t) for the three light vis grades – 100N, 150N and 220N – with 600N at €1,290/t-€1,355/t ($1,355/t-$1,425/t).

Both 100N and 150N are typically priced higher than 220N due to demand and generally higher usage in Europe of the two lighter grades.

Prices are for a large range of Group II base oils, including European, U.S., Asia-Pacific and Red Sea sources, imported in bulk and in flexies.

Group III prices continue to show slightly weaker levels, but discounts are less than previously, with some sellers announcing that they cannot move levels lower since they would be moving into loss making sales. The unacceptability of this scenario seems to have anchored prices around current levels. Prices will remain weak, however, with rerefined prices being the driver for lower offers from partly-approved sellers. However, these counters are being refused by distributors, which are sticking their heels in when it comes to forward prices. 

The discussion continues as to the cause and reasons behind the Group III demise in prices over the last six to nine months, but this report is convinced that no one single factor can be accountable for this market.

A combination of oversupply and lower demand has affected the Group III market in Europe, with both factors leading to continuing price pressures which have caused prices to collapse. Fully-approved Group III base stocks were cushioned from the price erosion seen for partly-approved material, but fully-approved grades have seen lower prices with the large differentials between fully-approved and partly-approved grades being narrowed.

The relatively recent addition of availability of rerefined Group III base oils is starting to make an impact on the market, with a number of blenders moving to these grades which are deemed to be perfectly acceptable on quality and specifications. Only 4 centiStoke material is available at the moment, but this is the main grade in use across Europe today. It is heard that 6 cSt grades may be added to the slate during the early part of next year.

Partly-approved grades, not including rerefined base oils, have prices for 4 cSt and 6 cSt remaining at €1,455/t-€1,475/t, while 8 cSt is unchanged at €1,400/t-€1,445/t. Prices are based on FCA supplies from Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam and northwest Europe and Germany. It was considered more accurate to report rerefined 4 cSt separately, with this grade priced at €1,345/t-€1,375/t.

Prices for fully-approved Group III base oils from Cartagena refinery remain unchanged this week, with the producer trying to hold up prices to protect margins and to maintain sales levels for next year. Many blenders have declined to buy full quotas of fully-approved Group III base stocks because the price differential is immense and increasing storage capacity to house both types of Group III base oils is considered more prudent and more economic.

It is heard that another Group III supplier from South Korea will attain full-approvals either next year or in 2025, and it will be interesting to observe how pricing is formulated when fully-approved status arrives.

The 4 cSt and 6 cSt grades are placed at €1,825/t-€1,875/t. Small quantities of 8 cSt oils are assessed at €1,795/t-€1,820/t. Prices are for FCA sales from hubs in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, northwest Europe and Spain.

Baltic and Black Seas

There was no further news from sources in Nigeria regarding the potential cargo of Russian export barrels from Svetly in Kaliningrad. It is not clear whether the parcel was loaded or has been delayed due to shipping problems, or whether the cargo may already be on the high seas enroute to Lagos. It was suggested that a cargo of around 12,000 tons was to be sold into Nigeria, and local sources in a shipping agent acknowledged that they had been approached to handle the vessel on arrival at Apapa, but this source has heard nothing more from potential charterers. It may be that sellers have changed agents for this cargo.

FOB prices for SN 150 from Svetly are heard to have rose in line with increases to base oil prices within Russia, with new levels estimated to be around $730/t. With SN 500 now around $745/t, sellers can basically price these grades as they wish. Blended SN 900 using SN 1200 or Russian bright stock plus SN 500 could have a price tag of around $775/t. After adding possible freight rates of around $150/t, the FOB levels will entice Nigerian buyers by coming in around $200/t lower than current prices going into Apapa.  

Imports are now part of the supply chain going into the Baltic states, taking the place of Russian exports that used up until the European Union ban earlier this year. Imports of virgin base oils from Europe, the United States and the Middle East are represented by cargoes going into Lithuania and Latvia. In addition, rerefined Group I and rerefined Group III base oils also form a part of this new supply picture.

Gdansk availabilities for export remain missing, with traders still looking to lift a cargo for the west coast of the United Kingdom. This source would be preferred for a quantity of around 4,000-5,000 tons of two or three Group I grades – bright stock may be left out. Lotos and PK Orlen seem to be focusing on local markets, where prices and margins are higher. 

In Turkey, the offer of a Greek cargo was made in response to Turkish buyers looking to take European Group I base oils. The problems remain, with European mainland prices versus Russian barrels, with some Turkish blenders requiring better quality base stocks. The European supplies will have higher viscosity index and lower color, but prices have not come down, and the latest offer may go back into the domestic Greek market. It was heard that the cargo has not been accepted by Turkish buyers.

The Turkish economy remains a disaster, with interest rates moving higher, and inflation running at more than 70%. The exchange rate for the Turkish lira against the dollar has taken another tumble during last week, with the Turkish Central Bank about to impose a further rise in interest rates before the year’s end, taking the rate up to 30%. 

The Turkish lubricant market is dependent on Russian imports of SN 150 and SN 500 to supply blending operations across Turkey, and with the downturn in the finished lubes market in Turkey and surrounding countries, time are tough for blenders.  

Imported Russian Group I base oil prices are heard to have moved further, with reports that levels have increased by around $60/t-$75/t. With raw material costs rising, the production costs of Russian base oils have to rise, although how economics are worked out bears little resemblance to any other suppliers of base oils.

Sources have said that SN 150 is around €865/t, with SN 500 at €885/t.

Tupras production is rumored to have restarted at the end of last week, but it could not be confirmed if availabilities will be forthcoming soon. It was suggested that a feedstock problem was the cause of the stoppage, but whether this was a quality problem or an availability issue is not known.

Prices for products still in stock from existing production, prior to the stoppage, remain until stocks are depleted. Prices for SN 150 are put at $1,166/t (Tl 24,519), SN 500 at $1,227/t (Tl 27,024) and bright stock at $1,450/t (Tl 33,167). Prices in Turkish lira are ex-rack plus a loading charge of Tl 5,150/t. 

Group II prices ex-tank are maintained following last week’s increases. Levels are around €1,255/t-€1,300/t for the three lower vis products – 100N, 150N and 220N – with 600N at €1,475/t-€1,525/t. Supplies of Group II grades may be sourced from the Red Sea, the U.S., South Korea or Rotterdam. Some traders are active in these supplies, with material loaded in flexies and delivered to Turkish receivers.

Partly-approved Group III base oils resold on an FCA basis, or sometimes on a truck-delivered basis, are maintained, with Russian 4 cSt grade from Tatneft at €1,345/t. Alternative supplies are at €1,565/t-€1,610/t FCA.

Smaller quantities of fully-approved Group III grades routinely delivered to Gemlik from Cartagena have prices maintained at €1,955/t-€1,995/t FCA. Cargoes of 800 tons up to 2,000 tons will cover these requirements for the small number of blenders who require access to fully-approved Group III base oils.

Middle East

Base oil prices FOB Yanbu and Jeddah for Group I base oils have increased by around $50/t. Group II prices increased in line with other international moves, with increases of around $100/t applied. Large cargoes are loading out of Yanbu and Jeddah moving to the west coast of India and will continue, even in the event that Indian refiners increased the quantities of base oil produced due to access to cheap Russian crude supplies.

Middle East Gulf supplies of Group I and Group II base oils are coming into the United Arab Emirates from many sources, including South Korea, Singapore and Rayong in Thailand. With the continuance of imports into Mexico from the U.S., prices are not under pressure, and there should be few opportunities for surpluses to build in U.S. refineries. The arbitrage between the U.S. Gulf Coast and Middle East Gulf may not re-open. Europe and the U.S. would appear to be not in a position to supply Group I barrels into Middle East Gulf receivers.

U.A.E. buyers will possibly return to looking at Group I options from Asia-Pacific, but prices may have gone too high, making those sources uncompetitive. Suggestions are that U.A.E. buyers will return to negotiating with Luberef to take large quantities of both Group I and Group II base oils. A number of large cargoes of up to 20,000 tons each are being lined up for receivers in Fujairah, Hamriyah and Jebel Ali

Russian sellers continue to offer Group I and Group III base oils to receivers in the U.A.E. The Group III prices – which are from Tatneft, but sold by Lukoil – are often lower in price than local supplies from Adnoc and Bapco. Russian sellers Lukoil and Litasco are desperate to move as much material as possible into the U.A.E. market because it is one market where there are no restrictions on origin.

Russian base oil prices remain incredibly low but may have moved up, following refinery adjustments for feedstock costs. Prices are reckoned to be around $875/t for SN 150 and around $895/t for quantities of SN 500, discharged into storage in Hamriyah.

Group III suppliers Adnoc and Bapco are loading large cargoes for India, where demand has ballooned. The reason for this is not clear, but one source commented that some South Korean refineries were engaged in planned maintenance schedules. This may be causing a disruption for supplies of Group III grades.  

The two large Shell cargoes into the U.S. and Europe are on the water from Ras Laffan. The European cargo will arrive into Rotterdam during November, while the U.S. cargo may not reach Houston until into December.

Netbacks for partly-approved base oils from Al Ruwais in Abu Dhabi and Sitra in Bahrain are maintained this week, with selling prices stabilizing in Europe, but at the same time may be rising in India and the U.S. During this week, analysis will decide whether to move netbacks upwards before the next report. Netbacks are currently assessed at $1,430/t-$1,475/t, for 4 cSt, 6 cSt and 8 cSt partly-approved and non-approved Group III base oils.

Netbacks for the Shell Group III+ gas-to-liquid base oils from Ras Laffan in Qatar remain unchanged at around $1,520/t-$1,575/t. Levels are assessed based on information from traders in Singapore and resellers in Europe.

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

Group II base oils resold FCA in the U.A.E. may be sourced from European, U.S., Asia-Pacific and Red Sea producers. Base oils are sold either ex-tank U.A.E. or on a truck-delivered basis within the U.A.E. and Oman.

Prices remain as per last report, with levels at $1,565/t-$1,595/t for the light vis grades 100N, 150N and 220N, with 600N at $1,695/t-$1,760/t. The high ends of the ranges refer to road tank wagon deliveries in the U.A.E. and Oman.

South African sources in Durban finally confirmed a large base oil cargo that will be loaded on behalf of ExxonMobil out of Rotterdam and Fawley. The vessel will then proceed to Durban, and finally discharge part-cargo in Mombasa, with an option for the vessel to also include Dar-es-Salaam for a further delivery. The loading laycan for loading is still awaited. 


Nigerian reports cannot confirm that a Russian base oil cargo has sailed for Lagos, and shipping lists do not include any vessels being chartered from Svetly terminal bound for Apapa. The mystery is compounded by no information coming out of the Russian suppliers. The cargo size is also an unknown, since there has been no vessel identified as yet. There are possibilities that a vessel could have loaded a rumored quantity of around 12,000 tons of three Group I grades – SN 150, SN 500 and SN 900.

A trader’s large U.S. cargo is completing discharge as this report goes out, but the source has announced that they will not be looking for another U.S. cargo for November loading, although there may be a possibility for December. There are still massive problems with the exchange rate on the naira to the dollar because a large part of the cargo will be paid in naira. That currency is being exchanged on the alternative market for dollars to be transferred back to the trader in Switzerland. There was no mention of any demurrage charges, although this can be a regular feature of base oil trading in Nigeria.

These charges are often unpaid or may go to negotiations which are most unsatisfactory for sellers.

Other traders are investigating alternative sources, one of which is Yanbu in Saudi Arabia. One problem could be that Luberef may decide not to sell on an FOB basis to a third-party trader. All other base oil movements out of Yanbu are done on Luberef chartered vessels.

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

More information is being sought on the possibility of a Russian cargo, but if confirmed, Russian prices could come in $150/t-$200/t lower than current prices if the Russian sellers do not push numbers higher. If the cargo is offered at typical margins with their lower costs, a Russian cargo could destabilize the Nigerian market for other traders. 

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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