EMEA Base Oil Price Report


Base oil prices are weakening throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa as trading activity slows ahead of the year end.

December has been forecasted to be a slow month, with buyers showing a lack of any urgency to purchase quantities of base oils prior to the first quarter of 2024. Availabilities are positive for all types of base oil, dampening any sense of a need for haste to replace inventories the next few weeks.

Finished lubricant demand is slack in a number of sectors, including automotive and some industrial oils, since commercial activities slow leading up to the winter holidays. Many lube blending operations in Europe and the Middle East plan to close early for maintenance during the holiday period, and some say they will not re-open until mid-January at the earliest.

Buyers contacted last week almost unilaterally said they would purchase only on a need-to basis and would not be stocking up with large quantities of base oils or additives due to the relatively high cost of borrowing to finance inventories. With interest rates still high across the regions, buyers are keeping a lid on capital spending.

API Group I prices are weaker going into December due to demand reducing in all regions, with few export sales to traditional areas such as West Africa and Middle East. There is no word of price changes from last month, with most sellers content to roll over prices from November. Buyers, however, have taken the opportunity to request discounts – and generally have found a receptive audience among sellers loathe to accumulate large surpluses before the year end.

Group II demand has wavered, and although sellers are still moving quantities of these grades, the action is not so frenetic as was seen following the large markups of a month ago. These increases have been eroded by larger customers able to negotiate discounts that are now considered almost as set as posted prices used in the United States. These prices are established mainly in the European market but are also seen in Middle East Gulf regions.

Group III markets continue to be oversupplied, and with demand falling away, all areas are seen to have ample stocks of material available for sale. With the double whammy of declining demand and a surplus to availabilities, prices are open to erosion, and although decreases are not as large as were seen earlier in the year, the constant chipping away at prices has resulted in new lows being established for Group I sales.

Some sellers are trying to offer fixed-price contracts for next year that maintain prices for three to six months until a review is undertaken. Offer levels are generally lower than current prices, indicating that sellers do not anticipate numbers firming any time soon.

Crude oil values slipped again following the OPEC+ meeting last Thursday. Some members, including Saudi Arabia, expressed displeasure at the lack of commitment to production cuts. The kingdom decided to maintain its own cutback until the end of the first quarter. Russia reportedly committed to do likewise, but statistics from that country are considered less reliable.

Even against the backdrop of fighting in Gaza and Ukraine, crude values have struggled to make progress toward Saudi Arabia’s target of around $100 per barrel, instead languishing below $80/bbl.

Dated deliveries of Brent crude were trading at $78.85/bbl Monday, now for February front month settlement, some $2 lower than last week. West Texas Intermediate followed a similar trend to $74.00/bbl, still for January front month. 

Low-sulfur gas oil prices fell by some $30 per metric ton to $793 per metric ton, still for December front month. All of these prices were obtained from London ICE trading late Dec. 4.


The Group I market in Europe is dull, still lacking export activity. Sources said the sale tender from Gdansk was pulled after attracting extremely low offers. Some traders are still negotiating with the supplier to lift quantities of the Group I avails.

A shipping inquiry was noted for a vessel to load from Gdansk with 4,500 tons of two grades moving to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, but this may have been in the market prior to the cancellation of the tender. The tender was originally for 3,000 tons of SN500 and 1,500 tons of bright stock.

Eni has announced prices for several grades of base oils from its plant in Livorno, Italy, but only solvent neutral 150 is currently available – and this only in flexi-tanks. The reason for issuing prices for SN500 and bright stock is a mystery, as are many decisions from this refinery.

Prices were heard to be around €1,035/t for SN150, around €1,200 for SN500 and close to €1,510/t for bright stock. The refinery’s price for SN500 was previously heard to be around €1,045/t for 500 tons, a vast difference from the current level. Bids for quantities of SN150 transported in flexies were heard at less than €1,000/t from a number of traders looking to ship to North African markets such as Morocco.

Values for Group I exports from Europe are still reported only on a notional basis given limited availabilities. Those values are assessed to have fallen the past week to between $925/t and $985/t for SN150, to $1,035/t-$1,095/t for SN500 and to be at $1,265/t-$1,325/t for bright stock.

Group I trade within Europe is very mixed as some suppliers are offering very low numbers while others are marking up in hopes of opportunistic sales providing high margins. There is no evidence of price increases from Dec. 1, but values are subject to counteroffers and requests for discounts, which have the effect of reducing prices.

Demand is slowing, and finished lubricant demand is forecasted to be quite low in January and February, particularly for passenger car and heavy-duty truck motor oils. Some players predict lube markets may not pick up until March or April. Order books are mostly empty right now, with most blending operations looking to close in a couple of weeks and to not restart until mid-January.

There will be exceptions, where business may see positive signs over the coming weeks. such is the case with a number of the United Kingdom blenders who continue to battle against cheap imported finished lubricants from United Arab Emirates, which are being sold at rock bottom prices, in some cases below U.K. manufacturing costs.

Prices are set to show weaker but with SN150 in short supply this grade is being assessed between €1,010/t-€1,095/t, SN500 is placed higher between €1,195/t-€1245/t, and bright stock, where available, is in a wide range at €1,260/t-€1,395/t.

The euro exchange rate to the dollar posted at $1.08121 Monday.

The price differential between prices for Group I exports from Europe and sales within the region narrowed to €110/t-€175/t, exports being lower.

Group II prices in Europe were stable during November following substantial increases which were announced by major suppliers at the end of October or beginning of November, but moving into December, demand appears to be weaker and sellers are struggling to match sales figures seen in previous months. It is still early in the month however, and demand may pick up a little, but forecasts are that buyers will be absent from the market for the remaining days of 2023, slowing sales of Group I grades.

Discounting has been introduced by some of the suppliers of Group II base oils, although one importer who had exceptionally low prices in the European market has raised levels from Dec. 1. The new prices are still well below other competitors, and with an import cargo from the U.S. planned for December, the supplier may take advantage of having the material on the high seas on December 31, thus documenting the cargo quantity as ‘in transit’ avoiding stocks being held in tank either in the U.S. or in Europe, minimising tax liabilities at year end.

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 show the low end of the ranges coming off to between €1,150/t-€1,220/t ($1,240/t-$1,345/t) for 100 neutral, 150N and 220N and at €1,325/t-€1,365/t ($1,430/t-$1,475/t) for 600N. A supplier with imported material from U.S. is now offering prices lower than the main market but on Dec. 1 imposed hikes to €1,165/t for 150N and €1,300/t for 600N.

All of 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 demand and generally higher usage in Europe of the two lighter grades.

Group III prices continue to be subject erosion with demand slowing further. December will be a tough month for sellers of Group III base oils in Europe. The market is awash with quantities of Group III grades from various sources including Asia-Pacific, Malaysia and the Middle East Gulf, in addition to domestically produced material from Spain and U.K.

There are further accounts of Chinese producers contacting a number of traders to take quantities of Group III base stocks into the European market, although no firm commitments have been announced by either the producers or the traders, but it is only a question of time before one of the traders agrees to take experimental quantities, possibly in flexies to start with, before moving to bulk cargoes in the future.

It is believed that FOB or FCA prices are very competitive and may add to the erosion of current prices around the European arena. Numbers heard by this report are between $925/t-$985/t basis FOB mainland Chinese ports in containers. These levels will provide aggressive prices delivered into Europe with estimated costs including handling and freight of around $250/t.

The differential between fully-approved and partly-approved Group III base oils is smaller, but still remains a negative factor for sellers of fully-approved product trying to allocate contracted quantities for next year.

There are reports that another supplier is offering price firm contracts for either three or six month periods starting at some time in the New Year. It will be interesting to see where these two sellers pitch their offers on a fixed price basis, but levels will have ot be below current levels to attract buyers to accept a price firm arrangement.

Partly-approved grades have prices for 4 and 6 cSt lower this week, at €1,350/t-€1,455/t, while 8 cSt is left at €1,335/t-€1,400/t, all on an FCA basis ex Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam and Northwestern Europe. Re-refined 4 cSt is offered at €1,350/t-€1,525/t but on the basis of sales ex storage in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam rather than ex works, as reported previously. Transportation adds €30/t-€50/t depending on quantity and distance.

Prices for fully-approved Group III base oils from Cartagena refinery are lower with many blenders reluctant to make commitments to buy quotas of fully-approved Group III base stocks, due to the still large price differential.

Fully-approved 4 and 6 cSt grades are placed at €1,665/t-€1,700/t. Small quantities of 8 cSt oils are assessed between €1,645/t-€1,660/t. These prices are on an FCA basis ex hubs in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, Northwestern Europe and Spain.

Baltic and Black Seas

Reports from the Baltic contain news that Russian and Belarus traders are offering cargoes of Russian export barrels to receivers in Nigeria. How these quantities are being handled is not clear, since unless the cargo quantity is being loaded from Svetly, the material would have to go into shore storage in Riga or Liepaja for a vessel to be able to load for Apapa. The trader involved does not have a direct relationship with Lukoil, so it is not considered that a cargo would load from Kaliningrad.

If the quantity is to load from another Baltic port, then the quantities will have to be brought through a European Union country to load. This report is unsure as to the rules around that type of movement. Surmising that the cargo would be in transit and not directed towards any EU or allied country, then exceptions may apply to transit Latvia or Lithuania to load from one or other of the ports available.

The alternative Nigerian cargo from Lukoil loading out of Svetly appears to have been put on hold because of the difficulties in delivering and receiving payment for a base oil cargo in Lagos. The delay is put down to working out a way to grant extended credit along with the associated problems of payment being received in local naira.

FOB prices for SN 150 and SN 500 from the Baltic are estimated at around $790/t for the SN 150, with SN 500 now around $795/t. SN 900 could have an FOB price of around $825/t.

No further news was heard from blenders in Lithuania that made approaches to European traders and suppliers to source Group I, Group II and Group III base oils for import into that country. Presently cargo lots are arriving into the Baltic from U.S. and Middle East. Additionally, rerefined Group I from Denmark and rerefined Group I and Group III base oils from Germany are also sources for blenders in the Baltic states.

Lotos and PK Orlen had issued a sale tender for 4,500 tons in total, comprised of 3,000 tons of SN 500 and 1,500 tons of bright stock. The tender appears to have been withdrawn, although when this happened previously, the tender was re-issued a couple of weeks later. Prices received as bids were so low that sellers could not entertain the offers and hence pulled the tender, although one trader is reputedly in talks with Lotos to try to buy a cargo from Gdansk. Prices were believed to be in the region of $785/t for the SN 500, with the bright stock bid at just over $800/t. Compared to current Group I prices in Europe these numbers are around $250/t-$300/t too low.

The trader looking to take a Group I cargo into the U.K. is negotiating with the producer, but there does not appear to be any SN 150 available for sale at this time. That may be an impediment to taking only SN 500 and bright stock.

Turkish buyers continue to try to obtain a cargo of European quality Group l base oils, one buyer has been in contact with Eni for possible supplies out of Livorno, but so far have not been successful in getting anything other than an offer for small quantities of SN150 in flexies at extremely high prices.

It is believed that no offer has yet been made by Eni for supplies of SN 150 and SN 500 in bulk, although this will be the eventual requirement for Gebze. Previously quantities were between 4-5kt in total with the two solvent neutral grades onboard.

The Turkish lubricant market is awash with Russian imports of SN 150 and SN 500. Additionally, there may also be smaller quantities of Russian quality bright stock, SN 1200 and solvent neutral SN 180 and SN 350 grades available from Uzbekistan.

Imported Russian Group I base oil prices moved higher, in line with Russian domestic prices moving upwards by around $50/t. Sources in Turkey give CIF indication prices for SN 150 at around €875/t, with SN 500 around €895/t.

Tupras production restarted, but no prices or details of availabilities have been issued from the refinery. This report is still trying to find information that will give details of prices and availabilities.

Group II prices ex-tank are taken a little lower this week, with levels now around €1,235/t-€1,280/t for the three lower vis products – 100N, 150N and 220N – with 600N at €1,455/t-€1,500/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 in flexies directly to blenders.

Partly-approved Group III base oils resold on an FCA basis, or on a truck- delivered basis, have lower prices, with Russian Tatneft 4 cSt grade still at €1,345/t. Alternative supplies from the U.A.E., Bahrain and Asia-Pacific are now reckoned to be at €1,545/t-€1,585/t FCA, depending on quantities purchased.

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

Middle East

Luberef continue to deliver large cargoes of both Group I and Group II base oils from Yanbu and Group I solvent neutrals from Jeddah refinery. These cargoes of up to 18,000 tons are regularly discharging in the U.A.E. and the west coast and east coast of India. Yanbu and Jeddah can provide Western standards on quality and specifications for Group I base oils and Group II supplies out of Yanbu. Cargoes are also being arranged for Sudanese and Jordanian receivers, with 3,000 tons of bright stock from Yanbu covering the Egyptian General Petroleum Corp. tender requirements in Alexandria in Egypt.

Middle East Gulf sources report business as usual although there are real concerns regarding an Iranian involvement in the war raging in Gaza. The region remains on a state of preparedness should the conflict spill out and spread to other regions. Sources in the U.A.E. made comments that there are possibilities for Iran and Yemen to join the fight, with allied warships sent into the Middle East Gulf and Red Sea to calm any possible displays of aggression.

More and more reports are coming in, with shipping problems for 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. Container logistics seem to be at the heart of the issues.

Inquiries generated by this report to shipping lines and marine agencies in the region have identified that war risk insurance premiums are being imposed by protection and indemnity insurance clubs for vessels travelling in the Red Sea and East Mediterranean areas, but no shortages of containers was reported by these sources. A number of liner shipping companies curtailed or cancelled sailings through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal as a result of the hostilities, and this curtailment of services may be one of the causes for the transportation problems.

There are also delays to cargoes of Russian base oil loaded out of Limas terminal in Turkey and which necessarily have to sail through Suez and the Red Sea to access discharge ports such as Hamriyah in the U.A.E. Freight rates rocketed as a result of war risk insurances and the piracy possibilities from Yemen. Offers for cargoes of up to 6,000 tons of two grades of Russian base stocks were reworked to take account of rising costs, with receivers in the U.A.E. expressly unhappy with the new situation and rising CIF prices. It is estimated that rates rose by around $50/t, but Russian prices can be “doctored” to take account of these extra costs and fees by lowering the FOB rates.

Asia-Pacific and Southeast Asia sources for both Group I and Group II base oils are sending cargoes of base oils into Hamriyah, Ras Al Khaimah and Jebel Ali in the U.A.E., arriving either on an CIF basis or quantities have been purchased on an FOB basis, with vessels chartered by U.A.E. traders. Sources are South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. Many of the smaller cargoes are 2,000 to 5,000 tons in total and are made up of Group I supplies, while Group II cargoes are delivered CIF from suppliers in Korea and Singapore.

There may be possibilities for the U.S. arbitrage to open up during December for both Group I and Group II cargoes. There may be a surplus of stocks building in the U.S. Gulf Coast due to a downturn in imports from this source going into Latin American markets. Refiners may want to move significant quantities of Group I base oils, and this could be an opportunity for receivers in the U.A.E.

Reports from last week suggest that at least the availabilities from the United States can be used as a negotiating tool when buyers in the U.A.E. are dealing with Luberef for supplies from Yanbu and Jeddah.

Lukoil and Litasco offer 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 transited and then reloaded from Limas terminal in Turkey. Alternatives are to load large cargoes out of Svetly in Kaliningrad in the Baltic, such as are being loaded for receivers in Singapore.

Russian base oil prices may have spiked due to freight rate increases but are reported to be around the same levels as previously heard. It is assumed that sellers have the flexibility to reduce the FOB levels applied to CIF prices. Prices remain around $875/t for SN 150, with $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 and mainland China. There appears to be a lull in the cargoes moving to Europe from both Adnoc and Stasco, with European tanks full of material from various Group III sources. There may be potential freight rate increases for European and U.S. cargoes coming out of the Middle East Gulf because of war and piracy risk insurances rising due to transiting Red Sea and Suez.

Netbacks for partly-approved base oils from Al Ruwais and Sitra are maintained, with selling prices only moderately lower in Europe, stable in Indian markets and steady in the U.S.

Netbacks are therefore assessed at $1,410/t-$1,455/t for 4 centiStoke, 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 based on information from Singapore traders 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. are sourced from European, U.S., Asia-Pacific and Red Sea producers. These base oils are sold either ex-tank the 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 have confirmed the large base oil cargo has loaded out of Rotterdam and Fawley and is enroute to Durban for discharge. 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. It was suggested that deliveries to Mombasa and Dar-es-Salaam will be organized, using vessels navigating the Cape to avoid Suez and Red Sea passage. The next Durban vessel may include quantities of base oils for the two destinations in East Africa.

Offers are being made to Nigerian receivers from Belarus traders using Russian export barrels for the cargo. No deal was confirmed as yet, with the usual problems of shipping and payment for the cargo holding things back. The other Russian base oil cargo from Svetly may still go ahead, but no shipping or loading details are available for any base oil cargo to load out of Kaliningrad. The cargo size is also unknown, since there has been no vessel identified. A vessel could theoretically load any quantity of up to 18,000 tons of three Group l grades – SN 150, SN 500 and SN 900 – but with draft restrictions at Svetly, this quantity may not be possible. There still remain too many unknowns regarding this cargo.

Financing problems continue, with the naira exchange rate with the dollar being the principal nightmare, due to payments for the cargoes made locally in local currency, with rates moving all the time.

Livorno was ruled out as an option for a prompt Group I cargo – with SN 150, SN 500 and blended SN 900 – until clarity as to production and availabilities is achieved. FOB pricing will be the first problem for a cargo from Livorno.

CFR Apapa prices changed due to competition from Russian barrels offered around the market. Prices are lower and are now confirmed at around $975/t for SN 150, $1,020/t for the SN 500 and SN 900 at around $1,145/t. To prove a point as to some traders wrecking the market, Russian SN 900 has been offered as low as $1,055/t CFR Apapa. This grade will possibly not use bright stock in the blend but may use SN 1200, which will be priced much lower.

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.

Related Topics

Base Oil Reports    Base Stocks    Market Topics    Other