EMEA Base Oil Price Report


Last week saw a stand-off in European, Middle Eastern and African base oil markets, with buyers stating firmly that they did not have any requirements in the near term, while sellers were trying unsuccessfully to move quantities of all types of base oils out of tank prior to year’s end.

This hiatus in the market is universal to all the Europe, the Middle East and Africa regions, and with some blending operations closing down from last Friday, it has made selling material extremely difficult. Even with offers of large discounts, and other incentives such as free delivery and extended credit, buyers were showing little interest.

It must be said that this was probably expected around the market, but perhaps not quite to the extent that has occurred. There have been some attempts to resurrect some API Group I export sales with surplus product, but this has been reported as being so far largely unsuccessful. Any requirements into export destinations such as West Africa and the Middle East Gulf were covered from alternative sources, such as the United States, where sellers were faster off the mark offering cargo quantities to traders during the second half of November.

Markets such as Nigeria also cannot absorb the quantities available due to the difficulties of trading in that country. With continuing exchange rate fluctuations, payments being made in local naira, and the problems in selling naira to convert to dollars on the black market, the incentive to doing business in that part of the world has been removed.

Prices for all base oil groups have subsequently fallen dramatically in offers received by international traders and also deals for domestic customers. It is almost a “faux” market, with few parties interested in purchasing stocks and building inventories going into January, when the markets are forecast to remain subdued. There are sales of base oil taking place, but these have largely been arranged some time in advance and are being made on a “need-to-buy” basis only.

The base oil market is increasingly leaning towards more spot buying, moving away from longer term contracts for specified quantities to be lifted or delivered on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. This situation has pitched producers and other sellers into somewhat of a quandary, since with a lack of term commitments from buying communities, gearing up production to meet market requirements will be made more uncertain and will create problems for refiners and resellers around the regions.

Crude oil prices have steadied around levels reached two weeks ago. There are many problems associated with the current situation of geopolitical issues in Ukraine and the Middle East, and a general global malaise caused by high interest rates and inflation, both of which are acting as major barriers to expanding economic growth.

Monday afternoon saw Dated Brent trading at $78.80 per barrel, firmer from last week’s numbers by around $2/bbl. This price remains for February front month. West Texas Intermediate has firmed and has now come in at $72.50/bbl for January front month.

Low sulfur gas oil prices have languished around similar levels as last reported. Gas oil now lists at $783/t for January front month.

All of these prices were established from London ICE trading late Dec. 18.


The European Group I export market has seen efforts to resurrect a number of cargoes from various producers. The Gdansk quantities – which initially were offered as a tender – are believed to have been sold to a trader that may place the barrels either into the U.K. market or move the quantities to receivers in North Africa or Turkey.

There are also reports of a large quantity of two grades being available from Livorno from production that has yet to emanate from the refinery. It was mooted that around 7,000 tons of SN 500 and 7,000 tons of bright stock are to be made available for export sales. With an announced closure of the refinery from Jan. 4 through Jan. 20, and with no SN 150 now available for this potential cargo, there are severe doubts as to whether this availability is real or not.

One trader is said to be interested to take the total quantity of around 15,000 tons, with a loading laycan towards the end of December. Potentially, this cargo could go into Nigeria with a large parcel of SN 900 and a smaller quantity of SN 500, but with all the current problems in that country, perhaps other alternatives could present themselves.

Not many other Group I producers have availability to be able to offer export cargo quantities. This may change, as domestic buyers decline taking available material between now and the year-end, perhaps prompting some producers to test the water for export quantities. 

European export prices based on current offers are advised for the export market. SN 150 levels are assessed lower at $845/t-$900/t, with SN 500 at $965/t-$1,025/t. Bright stock is assessed at $1,225/t-$1,285/t, depending on quantity purchased.

Group I European domestic prices were to be relegated to remain at current levels, but it has been heard that some suppliers offered spot discounts for quantities lifted or delivered before the end of December, encouraging buyers to take stock from refinery inventories. Therefore, the ranges widened to recognize these offers. Demand has slowed and is heaping pressure on suppliers to drop prices further to move stocks out of tank before the year end. Buyers remain stubbornly pessimistic regarding the next few months, quoting that finished lubricant demand during the first quarter of next year will be abysmal.

Blenders throughout Europe are between a rock and a hard place, with raw material and operating costs mounting as interest rates and inflation remain stubbornly high. Coupled with this pressure comes an inability to respond to higher costs by increasing finished lube prices due to competition and pressure from buyers, who are also experiencing a cost spiral.

Prices are softer, and even with SN 150 remaining tight, prices are assessed in a wide range at €955/t-€1,095/t. SN 500 is now at €1,025/t-€1,175/t, with bright stock, where available, in a wide range at €1,220/t-€1,389/t.

The dollar exchange rate to the euro posted on Monday at $1.0746.

The price differential between domestic and export prices is amended due to discounting applied to both export and domestic prices, to €95/t-€180/t.

European Group II prices dipped, with some sellers trying to incite prospective buyers to take additional quantities into storage before the start of January. Present discounting and rebates are eating into the increases applied during November. However, the Group II average premium to diesel remains acceptable due to the increases, but also because diesel prices have fallen during the last few weeks.

Trade is slowing and from this week, may show severe downturns because a number of large and significant blending operations close down for the festive season. Some buyers were offered large discounts to take quantities of Group II grades now. This has produced results with a few brave companies taking larger offtake than normal on the basis that prices will not remain discounted into the New Year, and that the opportunity of these “bargain” prices will no longer be available. Sellers stressed that these prices are one-off and will not apply to future purchases.

Market share is paramount at the moment, with incumbent suppliers defending their business against buyers moving to alternative suppliers at lower pricing. The alternatives are fewer now, with established suppliers holding their market position. Only one importer was offering levels around €50/t-€100/t below the market, but with a replenishment cargo now on the way from the U.S. Gulf, prices may be adjusted to fall into place with other major suppliers in the Group II market in Europe.

Prices are amended to reflect the current temporary value allowances being offered, so the lows of the ranges are taken lower. Levels are assessed at €1,095/t-€1,220/t ($1,195/t-$1,345/t) for the three light vis grades – 100N, 150N and 220N – with 600N now at €1,275/t-€1,365/t ($1,390/t-$1,475/t).

In the European market 100N and 150N are priced higher than 220N due to demand patterns and higher usage of the two lighter grades. 

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

Buyers of Group III base oils have temporarily, at least, deserted the market, with many players sending messages to suppliers that they are waiting for January before making commitments to purchase further quantities of Group III base stocks.

Group III prices continue to show weaker numbers, often in almost desperate attempts to promote sales during December.

Chinese producers were semi-successful in convincing one trader to take a small quantity of their production to sell into the European arena. The trader has purchased around 200 tons in flexies from sources in Singapore and will sell these grades into receivers in the Mediterranean. Prices are still being verified, and this report is awaiting confirmation of FOB and CIF levels.

However, there may be problems in shipping material from Far Eastern sources into Europe, with the announcements from major container vessel companies to avoid sailing through the Red Sea and Suez due to hostile activity from rebels in Yemen. Houthis that are sympathetic with Hamas have attacked at least two vessels sailing through the Bab el Mandeb Strait at the southern end of the Red Sea.

More suppliers are turning to offering price firm deals for either three- or six-month periods starting at some time in 2024. Levels at which firm – or linked – offers are being made are understood to be linked to the low prices for 4 centiStoke and 6 cSt Group III grades quoted in a well-known weekly pricing report.

There are also rumors around the market that one Asia-Pacific sourced seller offered prices for 4 cSt at new low levels of €1,250/t FCA Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam. This number has to be verified and confirmed during the course of this week.

Partly-approved grades have prices for 4 cSt and 6 cSt moved lower this week, but ranges do not take into account the price noted above, as yet. Levels are at €1,325/t-€1,415/t. Eight cSt is now assessed at €1,310/t-€1,355/t. Partly-approved prices are based on FCA supplies from Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam and northwest Europe.

Rerefined 4 cSt is assessed at €1,320/t-€1,375/t, on the basis of sales FCA refinery in Germany.

Prices for fully-approved Group III base oils from Spain are maintained this week. With many customers reluctant to enter into contracted sales for next year – due to the still large price differential – moves to spot buying will be part of the changing conditions of the Group III market.

Fully-approved 4 cSt and 6 cSt grades are assessed at €1,665/t-€1,700/t. Small quantities of 8 cSt oils are assessed at €1,645/t-€1,660/t. Prices are for of FCA sales from hubs in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, northwest Europe and Spain.

Baltic and Black Seas

The Baltic trader offering a cargo of 5,000 tons of Russian export barrels to prospective buyers in Nigeria has a shipping inquiry on the market to load the quantity out of Vyborg, a Russian port in the Gulf of Finland. This solves the problem posed by this report as to how a cargo could be loaded from ports such as Riga or Liepaja in Latvia. Under current European Union rules this may have proved to be difficult, although railcars containing Lukoil barrels of base oil continually transit through Lithuania, heading into Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave in the Baltic.

The cargo would be comprised of a small quantity of SN 150, a larger quantity of SN 500, and the remainder blended SN 900, perhaps using SN 1200 and SN 500. There is no indication if the SN 900 would be pre-blended in shore storage or blended when loading on the vessel.

As usual, the main problem may be getting hold of suitable tonnage to make the voyage. This is a relatively small quantity to move, although this could solve some of the problems associated with payment, and the conversion of naira into dollars.

Another Nigerian cargo that was to have loaded out of Svetly appears to have been put on permanent hold because of a number of problems encountered by sellers. The delay may be down to working out how to grant extended credit, along with the problems of payment received in local naira.

One cargo did load out of Kaliningrad, with 5,000 tons of SN 150 and SN 500 moving to Gebze in Turkey. The cargo arrived into discharge port in early December, so it must have loaded around mid-November. 

FOB prices for SN 150 and SN 500 ex-Baltic are now estimated to be around $795/t for SN 150, with SN 500 around $810/t. A blended SN 900 could have an FOB price of around $840/t, depending on heavy grades used in the blend.

The tender form Lotos and PK Orlen that was cancelled has not been reissued, but the quantities available have been under negotiation with a trader to lift approximately the same cargo prior to the end of December. It is thought that prompt loading was a primary condition of prices being attractive to the buyer, and that a deal has been concluded to take the cargo loading Dec. 20-24.

It may be possible that the cargo could be destined for the west coast of the United Kingdom.

Turkish buyers had taken a Mediterranean cargo during November, this parcel being either loaded out of Greece or Sicily. The quantity appears to be around 4,500 tons of solvent neutral grades SN 150 and SN 500.

There is talk that a U.S. trader will load a cargo of around 4,000 tons of Group I grades out of Istanbul for receivers in Haifa, Israel. Istanbul is not a usual load port for base oils, and it is rather strange that the quantity would be available, other than Russian product, which would not be acceptable to most Israeli blenders. Further information is being sought on the matter.

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

Imported Russian Group I base oil prices are maintained this week, with sources giving CIF indication prices for SN 150 at around €875/t, with SN 500 around €895/t.

Tupras production continues, but sales are only being undertaken to local buyers that take small quantities of mixed grades from the refinery at Izmir by truck. Prices are believed to have been maintained and have not changed over the past few weeks. Levels are as follows.

Prices for SN 150 are $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 taken lower, with sellers trying to run down quantities in-tank prior to Jan. 1. Levels are now put at around €1,195/t-€1,175/t for the three lower vis grades – 100N, 150N and 220N – with 600N now at €1,385/t-€1,475/t. Group II grades may be sourced from Red Sea, the United States, South Korea or Rotterdam. Some traders are active in these supplies, with material in flexies delivered to Turkish receivers.

Partly-approved Group III base oils on an FCA basis, or on a road tank wagon-delivered basis, have prices going lower, with Tatneft 4 centiStoke grade at €1,325/t. Supplies from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Asia-Pacific are assessed at €1,475/t-€1,525/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.

Middle East

Luberef, operating out of Yanbu and Jeddah may face problems in obtaining vessels to take cargoes from these refineries to the west coast of India, the U.A.E. and Pakistan. Also affected could be cargoes to Singapore and South Africa and local traffic to Sudan, Jordan and Egypt. as well as parcels of Group I base oils coming through Suez heading for northwest European ports.

The problem is caused by Houthi rebels, who are supporting Hamas in Gaza, attacking merchant vessels in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait in the southern Red Sea. On Saturday last week, a U.K. Naval vessel downed a drone which was aimed at a merchant vessel. It was not proved that this drone was launched by the Houthi rebels, but they have claimed earlier attacks.

Middle East Gulf sources are concerned regarding the problems with shipping in and out of Middle East Gulf ports, with growing Red Sea embargo looking to cause huge complications for the region. The area is preparing itself for isolation from Western supply sources, many of which are crucial to operations continuing in the region. Some buyers are turning to Asia-Pacific and other Eastern supply points to cover all eventualities, should the Red Sea block be imposed by shipping companies on a longer term basis.

There are currently multiple reports of shipping problems for supplies of finished lubricants moving out of the Middle East Gulf and also problems affecting supplies of industry basic materials such as base oil and additives from supply sources in the West. Containers are in short supply, along with vessels to carry freight to European, U.S. and South and Central American locations.

Vessels are being redirected to sail around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, a prudent move in the face of Houthi attacks on merchant shipping in The Red Sea region. This process will increase both voyage time and costs for all goods being imported or exported from Middle East Gulf sources, and could have major effects on markets, such as Group III supplies into Europe and the U.S.

Ships loading from the Far East and Middle East Gulf locations will have to take the diversion route, since protection and indemnity insurance clubs will not cover vessels for hull, cargo and crew insurance under the current circumstances.

However, there will be vessels prepared to run the gauntlet of the Bab el-Mandeb channel, but these ships will incur higher costs of armed security personnel on board,

Many companies in the U.A.E. are going to be affected by the lack of vessels going through Suez, with Suez authorities in Egypt issuing dire warning about loss of revenue, with vessels diverting around South Africa. Whether operators maintain schedules for liner routes is in question, and this may lead to many additional problems.

Base oils moving into Middle East Gulf ports will be affected, in addition to Group III cargoes moving out of Al Ruwais, Sitra and Ras Laffan. These cargoes moving into Europe and the U.S. will have to be re-routed and this could disrupt the supply chain into those regions. Ultimately, Group III could become tight in Europe and U.S. for as long as restrictions are in place.

Delays are reported for cargoes of Russian base oil, which would be loaded out of Limas terminal in Turkey, or Kaliningrad in the Baltic. Offers for cargoes of up to 10,000 tons of two grades of Russian base stocks are being reassessed to evaluate alternative shipping plans. Should vessels elect not to sail through Suez and Red Sea waters, then the option of supplying from the Baltic may become a feasible operation, although freight costs will certainly be higher.

Russian base oil delivered prices into the U.A.E. remain around $875/t for SN 150, with $895/t for quantities of SN 500.

The U.S. arbitrage may be open, since with growing stocks and inventories U.S. suppliers have been keen to strike deals for cargoes for U.A.E. and the west coast of India, with a couple of deals completed after cargoes to West Africa fell through due to complications in that region. The advantage for vessels moving out of the U.S. Gulf Coast or U.S. Atlantic Coast is that they have an option to route around the Cape. The southerly voyage may be longer but could be the only option available.

Group III suppliers Adnoc and Bapco – having loaded a number of cargoes for the west coast of India and mainland China – along with Stasco, are now evaluating how supplies of Group III grades will be made to Europe and U.S distributors. Ongoing communications with suppliers continues, and further reports will be issued.

Current netbacks for partly-approved base oils from Al Ruwais and Sitra are maintained but could be subject to revision due to higher shipping costs that are on the horizon.

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 gas-to-liquid Group III+ base oils from Ras Laffan in Qatar are maintained at around $1,520/t-$1,575/t.

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. These base oils are sold either ex- tank U.A.E., or on a truck-delivered basis within the U.A.E. and Oman. These prices from western sources may be subject to change, although many sources have said that they will favor supplies from the Far East rather than look at supplies from Europe and the U.S.

Prices are maintained at the moment, 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.


The shipping route via the Cape of Good Hope may quickly come into the limelight, with many vessel being diverted to this route, rather than going through Suez and the Red Sea. This could have important implications for supplies of marine lubricants and bunkers from sources in South Africa and could see a major expansion in supplies of base oil to this region. It is too early to estimate or forecast the outcome of changes to shipping routes.

The potential for traders to purchase Group I material from the U.S. – due to changes in pricing and suppliers moving to a long supply position – seems to be fading for supplies going into Nigeria because of the incessant and continuing problems in trading base oils into this part of the world.

Regular traders are not rushing to re-enter the Nigerian market at the moment due to all the monetary problems affecting business in this region.

An offer from a Belarus trader for a 5,000-ton Russian export cargo was reported in shipping inquiries for a vessel to load from Vyborg, in the Gulf of Finland, but no completed deal was reported.

The alternative Russian base oil cargo from Kaliningrad may have been permanently put on hold, with other options for supplies from this source more appealing. With alterations to vessel routing around the Cape, there may be opportunities to supply from Svetly rather than from Limas terminal. 

Financing problems continue, with the naira exchange rate against the dollar being a headache. That is due to payments for the cargoes currently being made in local currency with rates moving all the time, and naira having to be exchanged into dollars on the black market.

CFR Apapa prices are maintained until the Baltic cargo is confirmed and completed. Prices are assessed around $975/t for SN 150, $1,020/t for the SN 500 and SN 900 at around $1,145/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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