EMEA Base Oil Price Report


Demand for all types of base oil has been falling the past week across Europe, the Middle East and Africa – especially for API Group I oils.

Despite a general shortage of lighter neutral grades are, there are few concerns about availability for future requirements. Group I producers are scaling back run rates across Europe, not wishing the end the year with large inventories. In light of forecasts that no uptick is coming in the first quarter of 2024, base oil markets could be in for a gloomy period until spring.

Group II demand had been reasonable until mid-November, but then buyers seemed to disappear from the marketplace, insisting they had sufficient stocks to last into the new year. Demand for Group III oils remains poor and the segment oversupplied. Moreover, there are suggestions from some quarters that new production from China may start to target European and Middle East markets, fuelling fears that the situation can only become worse.

There have been recent examples where an anomalous occurrence –  some Group II prices overtaking Group III numbers, especially for Group III grades with only partial slates of finished lubricant approvals.

Crude oil prices are softer this week when Saudi Arabia fell out with some OPEC+ members over the question of ongoing production cutbacks. Saudi Arabia has vowed to extend its own reductions into next year, but some cartel members have refused to follow suit, stating that their economies rely on crude revenues. Saudi representatives argued that shortening supply would push up prices and provide higher returns in the long term, but the argument has not been endorsed by some notable OPEC members.

Dated briefly fell below $60 Monday but recovered to $80.40 per barrel, still for January front month settlement, a couple of dollars lower than last week. West Texas Intermediate is down a similar amount to $75.45/bbl, also for January front month. 

Low-sulfur gas oil prices were relatively steady the past week, rising slightly to $823 per metric ton, still for December front month. All of these prices were established from London ICE trading late Nov. 27.


Once again there is no real activity for Group I exports from Europe, although Lotos did issue a sale tender from Gdansk that closed Nov. 21. The results won’t be announced until later this week, but the tender was for 3,000 tons of solvent neutral 500 and 1,000 tons of bright stock – quantities that could be taken into the United Kingdom market or sold to traders who could supply to blenders in the Baltic states.

There still is no light neutral base oil for export from Europe, but rerefined base oil could be shipped to the U.K., where rerefined SN150 is available on an FCA basis at around $1,045/t on the east coast. This material is sourced from Kalundborg, Denmark, is brought into the U.K. on a break-bulk basis and is resold ex tank.

The picture surrounding Eni’s Livorno, Italy, plant is still confusing after the company announced prices that align with the market within Europe but said availabilities were being aimed at export sales. Prices were heard at around €1,035/t for SN150, €1,175/t for SN500 and €1,375/t for bright stock.

These prices were announced in euros, suggesting sales are aimed at the intra-regional market, however, it was also reported that one large buyer had purchased 500 tons of SN500 a week earlier and had paid just €1,045/t. More clarity will be sought this week, hopefully identifying parcels loaded for export destinations such as Turkey or West Africa.

There is an enquiry for Group I material to move into Casablanca in Morocco, but the requirement has not yet been covered.

Prices for European Group I exports are provided on a notional basis until such trade resumes. Values are up this week to between $940/t and $985/t for SN150, $1,055/t-$1,125/t for SN500 and $1,295/t-$1,355/t for bright stock.

In the Group I domestic markets there is still no evidence of price rises coming in from December 1, with most suppliers content to roll over November levels into next month. Demand is wavering with buyers not looking to take major quantities of Group I base oils between now and the New Year. Most blending operations are looking to run down stocks as much as is practical, with many participants anticipating closing early at Christmas and not reopening until into the New Year.

Forecasts are that January and February will be quiet with little demand from major buyers such as factory fills for automotive lubricants during this period. Some are saying that it will be into March or April before the finished lubricant markets start to pick up. Demand has slowed over the past few weeks, and will slow further going forward into December.

With crude and feedstock prices relatively stable it would be difficult to justify further increases in respect of Group I base oils, with producers now receiving an acceptable base oil price premium to diesel.

Prices are mostly maintained, but with SN150 in short supply this grade is assessed between €1,135/t-€1,195/t, SN500 between €1,175/t-€1,225/t, with bright stock where available between €1,375/t-€1,425/t.

The euro exchange rate to the dollar has been steady durng last week, posting on Monday 27th November at $1.09329.

Domestic prices are steady and with only notional export prices, the price differential is maintained between €135/t-€195/t.

European Group II prices are now stable following recent increases, but there are rumors of major Group II suppliers starting to look at discounting some prices levels particularly for buyers who are taking larger parcels of Group II grades. In the light of demand starting to tail off, suppliers are keen to maximize every opportunity to sell as much material prior to the end of December.

Following the large increases imposed at the end of October, there appears to be a reversal in attitudes to prices, with some number starting to come down. The discounts will not bring levels back to pre-increase levels, and selling numbers will maintain an acceptable premium to diesel, but moving product is the name of the game for the next few weeks, so the market may see some targeted discounting especially for the heavy grades.

It is being accepted that there may be a little erosion to prices over the next few weeks, but smaller buyers will have prices maintained at the new higher levels. Only those with purchasing power will be able to negotiate levels downwards. Demand is forecast to dip during the first few months of next year hence sellers are putting all efforts into holding on to market share, even if offtake levels will be lower than normal.

Prices are taken slightly lower at the top ends of the ranges with the spreads now between €1,195/t-€1,230/t ($1,300/t-$1,345/t) for 100 neutral, 150N and 220N and at €1,325/t-€1,365/t ($1,445/t-$1,487/t) for 600N. A supplier with imported material from the United States is still offering prices lower than the remainder of the market at €1,135/t for 150N and €1,240/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 and sold in flexi-tanks. Typically 100N and 150N are priced higher than 220N due to demand and generally higher usage in Europe.

Group III prices remain weak and with demand tailing off, December is forecast to be a difficult month for many suppliers of Group III base oils in Europe. There are rumors that newly fired-up Chinese production of Group III base oil which has recently come on stream having been mothballed for some time. Chinese producers are targeting traders to take quantities of Group III base stocks into the European and other global markets, making the oversupply problems even greater.

This activity is still in its infancy, with only small quantities of material arriving into the European market in flexies, but if this market is possible to break into, then larger quantities of Group III grades may follow.

The differential between fully-approved Group III base oils and partly-approved products is lessening, but still remains a prominent factor when sellers of fully-approved product are trying to tie in quantities on contracts for next year. There is a great deal of resistance from many buyers to commit to firm quantities on a monthly or quarterly basis for 2024.

One supplier has adopted an almost desperate approach to next year’s sales by offering price firm contracts to buyers for a six month period starting on Jan1 next year. This may be a risky business, but reading the market perhaps this supplier sees that prices will continue to show weakness and the only direction the market is going to take is downwards. It will be interesting to see where this seller pitches the offer levels on a fixed price basis.

Prices for partly-approved grades, without the inclusion of re-refined base oils, are unchanged this week at €1,435/t-€1,460/t for 4 and 6 centiStoke, while 8 cSt stays at €1,395/t-€1,420/t, on an FCA basis ex Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam or Northwestern Europe. Re-refined 4 cSt is offered at €1,520/t-€1,535/t, also on an FCA basis ex storage in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam. Previously these prices were on an FCA basis ex rerefinery in Germany.

Prices for fully-approved Group III base oils from Cartagena refinery are also lower with many blenders declining to buy their quotas of fully-approved Group III base stocks due to the continuing large price differential.

Fully-approved 4 and 6 cSt grades are placed between €1,675/t-€1,710/t. Small quantities of 8 cSt oils are assessed between €1660/t-€1685/t. Prices are in respect of FCA sales ex hubs in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, Northwestern Europe or Spain.

Baltic and Black Seas

Baltic news still contains nothing regarding a large Russian cargo moving to Nigeria from Svetly in Kaliningrad. However, another large parcel was dispatched from Kaliningrad to Singapore, which has been done previously. The cargo is reputed to be around 12,000 tons in total and will probably consist of two grades – SN 150 and SN 500.

The Nigerian cargo is thought to have been put on hold due to the difficulties in delivering and getting paid for a cargo of size in Lagos. There are doubts as to whether this sale will ever proceed, but indications are that a cargo will eventually load from Svetly terminal in Kaliningrad discharging in Apapa. The delay is put down to working out the modus operandi to make the delivery work from a financial stance, given that there may be extended credit to take into account, along with payment being received in instalments in local naira.

There may also be hesitation on specification of Russian base oils. That could be a negative for some blenders in Nigeria, with color, viscosity index and oxidation stability lower than mainstream Group l base oils from either Europe or the United States.

FOB prices for SN 150 and SN 500 from Svetly rose again, with levels now estimated to be around $775/t for the SN 150, with SN 500 now around $785/t. SN 900 could have an FOB price of around $825/t.

Blenders in Lithuania have made approaches to European traders to source Group I, Group II and Group III base oils for importing and blending in that country. Presently, cargo lots are arriving into the Baltic from U.S. and Middle East. Additionally, rerefined Group l from Denmark rerefined Group III base oil from Germany are also on the source list for blenders in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Gdansk refinery appears to have got over the reported quality issues with base oils produced at that site. The company running Gdansk refinery, Lotos and PK Orlen, issued a sale tender for 4,000 tons in total, comprised of 3,000 tons of SN 500 and 1,000 tons of bright stock. The tender closing date was last week on Nov. 21, with prompt loading dates required. Lotos will only entertain traders that are known and approved to take cargoes from Gdansk. The result of the tender is not known as yet, but information may be forthcoming during this week. It is also unknown if the trader looking to take a Group I cargo into the United Kingdom has participated in the tender, since the grades required for the U.K. market would have included SN 150, which was not part of the tender availability.

Turkish buyers trying to purchase European quality Group I base oils have contacted ENI for possible supplies out of Livorno but have been disappointed with the offered prices. This report is uninformed as whether the prices were the numbers released on general circulation, which were more aligned with local domestic market in Italy rather than “export” levels for the Turkish market.

It is believed that no specific offer has been made by ENI for a particular sized cargo and that more clarity is required if a supply is to be made from Livorno refinery. Previous cargoes were normally at 4,000-5,000 tons in total, with either two or three Group I grades onboard.

The Turkish lubricant market is now dependent on Russian imports of SN 150 and SN 500, which abound in tanks in Turkish ports. Additionally, there may be small quantities of Russian quality bright stock, SN 1200 and solvent neutral grades made available from Uzbekistan.

Imported Russian Group I base oil prices had moved higher, with levels moving upwards by around $60/t-$75/t. Sources in Turkey indicated prices for SN 150 landed at around €875/t, with SN 500 around €895/t.

Tupras production is believed to have restarted, but no details have been made available as yet. It is not known if new production is available, with more details to be found later this week. New prices are not available as yet, suggesting that availabilities of Group I base oils are not yet in tank.

Group II prices ex-tank are maintained this week, with levels around €1,255/t-€1,300/t for the three lower vis products – 100N, 150N and 220N – and 600N at €1,475/t-€1,525/t. Supplies of Group II grades may be sourced from the Red Sea, the United States, South Korea or Rotterdam. Some traders are active in these supplies, with material in flexies delivered to Turkish distributors, which resell on an FCA or truck-delivered basis.

Partly-approved Group III base oils resold on an FCA basis, or on a truck delivered basis, are maintained, with Russian Tatneft 4 centiStoke grade at €1,345/t. Alternative supplies from the U.A.E., Bahrain and Asia-Pacific are at €1,555/t-€1,595/t FCA, depending on each quantity purchased.

Quantities of fully-approved Group III grades delivered into Gemlik from Spain have prices maintained at €1,865/t-€1,895/t FCA. Cargoes of 800 tons up to 2,000 tons cover these requirements for a small number of blenders that require access to fully-approved Group III base oils.

Middle East

Luberef appear to have the market for the supply of prime quality Group I base oils almost sewn up for cargoes going into the U.A.E. and the west coast of India. With little Group I material available from Europe and with the arbitrage closed at the moment between the United States and Middle East Gulf and India, cargoes from Yanbu and Jeddah can provide European standards on quality and specifications for Group I and Group II supplies out of Yanbu. Large cargoes of up to 20,000 tons continue to load out of Yanbu and Jeddah for discharge in the west coast and east coast of India and the U.A.E. In addition, cargoes are programmed to load for Sudanese receivers, with bright stock loading from Yanbu to cover the Egyptian General Petroleum Corp. tender requirements in Alexandria in Egypt.

Middle East Gulf regions remain on tenterhooks regarding the concern and uncertainty with the situation in Gaza with sources in the U.A.E. commenting that there is a real fear that the conflict could escalate, with the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon becoming involved. Israel has been defending its borders with Lebanon where insurgents have been making raids on Israeli territories.

There have been further reports of shipping problems with supplies of finished lubricants moving out of the U.A.E. to other markets in the Middle East Gulf, East Africa and the Red Sea, with container logistics being one of the main issues. Why the conflict in Gaza should affect shipping from the U.A.E. to usual delivery locations is a mystery. Inquiries have been made by this report to shipping companies and agents around the Middle East and East African countries, but there does not appear to be a single reason for the delays and lack of containers available.

Asia-Pacific sources for both Group I and Group II base oils are sending base oils into Hamriyah and Jebel Ali in the U.A.E. These are arriving either on an CIF basis or have been bought FOB and a vessel chartered by U.A.E. traders to carry to cargo. These parcels are sourced from South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. Most of the smaller cargoes of 2,000 to 5,000 tons are made up of Group I supplies, while Group II cargoes are delivered CIF from suppliers in Korea and Singapore.  

U.A.E. receivers are resigned to taking large cargoes from Luberef in Saudi Arabia, while U.A.E. buyers are negotiating with Luberef to take large, contracted quantities of both Group I and Group II base oils through 2024, with base oil report linked prices. The Argus base oil report is being preferred for these linked prices because it has been reportedly found to be more comprehensive and accurate than other alternatives.

Lukoil and Litasco are offering Russian Group I and Group III base oils to regular receivers in the U.A.E. The majority of these supplies originate out of Volgograd refinery and are loaded using Limas terminal in Turkey. Alternatives are to load large cargoes out of Svetly in Kaliningrad in the Baltic.

The 4 centiStoke Group III prices for base oils produced by Tatneft are being resold by Lukoil. They can be competitive against local supplies from Adnoc and Bapco, which are stored in tanks in the U.A.E..

Russian base oil prices remain unaltered and are reported to be around $875/t for SN 150 and around $895/t for quantities of SN 500. Quantities are discharged into Hamriyah port in various sized cargoes but could be anything from 5,000 to 12,000 tons per parcel, depending on available vessels.

Group III suppliers Adnoc and Bapco will load a number of cargoes for the west coast of India. These are to appointed distributors in India that will resell the Group III base oils to many users in the Indian market.

Netbacks for partly-approved base oils from Adnoc in Al Ruwais and Bapco in Sitra, remain unchanged, with selling prices little changed in Europe, stable in India and steady in the United States. Netbacks are assessed at $1,410/t-$1,455/t for 4 cSt, 6 cSt and 8 cSt partly-approved and non-approved Group III base oils.

Netbacks for the available gas-to-liquid Group III+ base oils from Ras Laffan in Qatar are maintained at around $1,520/t-$1,575/t. Levels are assessed on data 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. can be sourced from European, U.S., Asia-Pacific and Red Sea producers. These base oils are sold either ex-tank U.A.E., or on a truck-delivered basis within the U.A.E. and Oman.

Prices are maintained this week 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 to buyers in the U.A.E. and Oman.


Shipping agency sources in Durban reconfirmed a large base oil cargo loading for ExxonMobil out of Rotterdam and Fawley. The vessel apparently still has options for delivering part cargo into Mombasa in addition to the main cargo going into Durban. This could mean an increase in the size of the cargo, perhaps up to 25,000 tons in total. The vessel has not been confirmed in shipping reports.  

Nigerians suggest that the Russian base oil cargo from Svetly will still be going ahead, but no shipping details are available for any base oil cargo loading for Apapa port out of Kaliningrad. The cargo size is also unknown, since there has been no vessel identified. A vessel could load a quantity of around 12,000 tons of three Group I grades – SN 150, SN 500 and SN 900 – which would make economic sense on the freight costs. However, there are too many unknowns regarding this cargo, with one story after another emerging from various sources in the Baltic and Nigeria. 

Continuing problems remain, with a major stumbling block being the exchange rate between the naira and the dollar, with the latest official rate being noted at 805 naira to one dollar. This keeps moving, and within the last month has moved from around 750 up to this new level. At one point earlier in the year the naira was more than 900 to a dollar. This fluctuating exchange rate makes selling base oil cargoes to Nigeria very precarious because buyers are now using naira to pay for cargoes due to a lack of dollars enabling the local banks to open letters of credit. Naira then has to be exchanged on the “alternative” market for dollars.

Livorno may become an option for loading a Group I cargo with SN 150, SN 500 and blended SN 900, using bright stock and SN 500. The SN 900 could be blended on board the vessel at the time of loading, saving costs in terms of extra shore storage, and could be overseen by the inspector looking after the cargo loading. The FOB pricing will be the first problem for a cargo from Livorno.

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