EMEA Base Oil Price Report


As markets close for the festive season, and more and more players are missing from desks and offices, the major talking point in the base oil industry is the potential for delays of shipments between Europe and the Middle East Gulf, and of course all points eastwards.

The problem is the cessation of shipping through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal due to recurring attacks on merchant tonnage by the Houthi rebels from Yemen.

A number of major shipping operators have instructed vessels to divert via the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa rather than make the perilous transit through the Bab al-Mandeb strait between Yemen and Somalia. The Houthi insurgents are being backed by Iran with missiles and drones that are being used to attack merchant vessels accused of having ties to Israel. Effectively this means almost all liner services that would normally call at Israeli ports en route to Europe or the Americas, and vice versa, going eastwards.

An allied naval coalition has been formed to combat the threat this important shipping route being closed. Participants are sending warships to the region to intercept missiles and drones aimed at neutral ships making the transit.

The implications for the base oil industry are significant, with supplies of API Group II and Group III base stocks being the most affected. Vessels travelling to and from the Middle East Gulf, for example, are having now to re-route via the Cape, and a number are docked in Durban, South Africa, waiting for bunkers and other supplies such as victuals and water, for the extended voyage.

Demurrage costs are mounting for these vessels, which are currently incurring waiting times of around 10 days outside Durban port prior to sailing west or east, as the case may be.

For example, voyage times to Europe will be extended by some three weeks, incurring extra costs of crewing, bunkers and delays to loading and discharge dates. Delays will trigger further chaos in shipping markets, with some operators unwilling to send vessels on such a protracted voyage. With logistics thrown into utter and total confusion, it will be some time before crew changes and vital supplies can be sorted out for ships carrying cargoes in one direction or the other.

The potential problems were identified in this report around a month ago when sources in the United Arab Emirates complained about not be able to finding transportation for finished lubricant exports to East Africa and beyond. The problems have obviously escalated and are now affecting both container and bulk traffic.

Aside from the situation described above, other events have also been happening that ultimately could have influence and bearing on base oil trade and supply. Chinks are appearing in the OPEC+ cartel with multiple members threatening to quit the club and go it alone. Angola, which, along with Nigeria, is one of the two major crude exporters from sub-Saharan Africa, said it will leave OPEC and will not cut crude production and output to theoretically bolster crude prices. This country is dependent on crude exports as a revenue source and will continue to honor contracts to buyers.

Other members are mulling and debating production cutbacks proposed mainly by Saudi Arabia and Russia, countries relying heavily on higher crude prices to fund development and war, respectively. Should the crude production cuts be maintained through 2024, upward pricing pressure could develop for petroleum products, including base oils.

Given all the above negatives, the base oil markets have gone into sleep mode, particularly in Europe, where many operations will be closed for at least the next two weeks, and some for up to a month. Many will undertake essential maintenance and repairs during that time before returning to full-time working in the second half of January.

On the back of Red Sea events crude oil prices firmed during the past week, ending the period prior to Christmas some two to three dollars higher than the prior week. The many problems associated with geopolitical issues in Ukraine and the Middle East continue to affect crude and product prices, and with the Israeli war in Gaza spreading to Yemen and Lebanon, further pressure will be piling on crude levels, especially with shipping delays from main supply points.

Friday close had dated deliveries of Brent crude at $80.15 per barrel still for February front month settlement. West Texas Intermediate crude had also firmed, coming in at $74.70/bbl, now for February front month.

Interestingly, low-sulfur gasoil prices have not moved significantly, rising just six dollars from the last report to $789 per metric ton, for January front month. All of these prices were obtained from London ICE trading late Dec. 22.


With little trade being conducted over the past few days, European API Group I export markets are very quiet. There are also few reports of producers having availabilities for this sector. 

Reports from Livorno indicate availability of all grades, including solvent neutral 150, were up for sale for loading before the end of December. One trader is believed to have elected to purchase all avails, but the destination was unknown for what turned out to be a large parcel of up to 18,000 tons. West Africa – Nigeria in particular – comes to mind. There may be other options, but the Red Sea scenario limits those.

Prices for Group I exports from the region are assessed lower, with SN150 between $750 per ton and $810/t, SN500 at $875/t-$955/t and bright stock at $1,130/t-$1,225/t.

Values for Group I sales within the region weakened as a number of suppliers offering temporary volume allowances to move stocks out of tank prior to year-end. Few buyers were interested, though, to take quantities into their storage before January. Demand has faded, as predicted before the festive holidays, and may take some time to rebuild going into January.

Prices are shown softer with SN150 at €895/t-€950/t, SN500 at €975/t-€1,065/t and bright stock at €1,185/t-€1,295/t.

The dollar exchange rate to the euro posted weaker on Friday 22nd December at $1.10289. The price differential between Group I sales within Europe and exports from the region is unchanged at €95/t-€180/t, exports being lower.

European Group II prices have slipped, accounting for year-end discounts being offered to selected customers. Trading has slowed and will continue at this pace until the New Year.

Prices are now at €1,075/t-€1,185/t ($1,170/t-$1,300/t) for 100 neutral, 150N and 220N and at €1,255/t-€1,335/t ($1,375/t-$1,445/t) for 600N, numbers that apply to a wide variety of Group II oils from Europe, the United States, Asia-Pacific and Red Sea sources, available in bulk and in flexi-tanks. 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 for Group III oils with partial or no slates of finished product approvals are unchanged at €1,325/t-€1,415/t for 4 and 6 centiStoke, while 8 cSt remains at €1,310/t-€1,355/t. These values are based on FCA supplies ex Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam or Northwestern Europe. Rerefined 4 cSt is still assessed at €1,320/t-€1,375/t, on an FCA basis ex refinery source in Germany.

Prices for fully-approved Group III base oils from Spain are also unchanged at €1,665/t-€1,700/t for 4 and 6 cSt and at €1,645/t-€1,660/t for 8 cSt, all on an FCA basis ex hubs in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, Northwestern Europe and Spain.

Baltic and Black Seas

There is no further news on the Baltic cargo for Nigeria, but it is assumed that the quantity available out of Vyborg will load before the year’s end and will be enroute to Apapa in Nigeria

There may be problems in chartering a suitable vessel to make the voyage, although Belorussian or Russian charterers can use Russian or Turkish flagged ships, which are relatively common in the Baltic. Ice could present problems because the Gulf of Finland moves into ice at this time of year.

With Russian refineries desperate to move material to any location, prices may have taken a dip. FOB prices for SN 150 and SN 500 from the Baltic are estimated to be lower at around $725/t for SN 150, with SN 500 around $740/t. A blended SN 900 could have an FOB price of around $785/t.

The Turkish Mediterranean cargo delivered some weeks back was sourced from Greece.

A United States-based trader is reputed to have loaded a cargo of around 4,000 tons of Group I grades out of a Turkish port for receivers in Israel. The origin of products is not yet known.

Russian imports of SN 150 and SN 500 continue to swamp the Turkish market. Imported Russian Group I base oil prices continue to be reported at the same levels, with CIF indications for SN 150 at around €875/t, with SN 500 around €895/t.

Tupras have prices for SN 150 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 taken lower, with levels 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 will be sourced from Red Sea, the U.S., South Korea or Rotterdam.

Partly-approved Group III base oils FCA, or on a road tank wagon-delivered basis, have prices maintained, 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.

Fully-approved Group III grades delivered into Gemlik from Spain have prices at €1,865/t-€1,895/t FCA.

Middle East

Without repeating the problems in the Red Sea and now the Indian Ocean, with Iran launching a drone attack on a reputed Israeli connected tanker, there are problems in the offing for Middle East Gulf trade.

Many companies in the Middle East Gulf will be affected by a dearth of vessels going through the Suez Canal. Base oils moving into Middle East Gulf ports will be affected, as will be Group III cargoes moving out of Al Ruwais, Sitra and Ras Laffan to Europe and the U.S. The situation could lead to a tightening of the Group III markets in those regions, contrary to the current situation, where an oversupply exists.

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.

Group III suppliers Adnoc and Bapco have already loaded a number of cargoes for the west coast of India and mainland China

Current netbacks for partly-approved base oils from Al Ruwais and Sitra are maintained but will be kept under review.

Netbacks are assessed at $1,410/t-$1,455/t for 4 cSt, 6 cSt and 8 cSt partly-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. have prices maintained, 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 strategic importance of South African ports may figure highly in days and weeks to come in the light of the Red Sea problem. With waiting times in Durban port at around 230 hours, vessels will be looking to take on bunkers because of the lack of other facilities in sub-Saharan African ports.

West African, and in particular Nigerian news is scant this week, with many of the players taking time away from offices and operations.

Problems continue with the naira exchange rate fluctuating erratically, adding to the problems of payments for base oil cargoes more and more being made in local currency becoming the norm. 

CFR Apapa prices are maintained, with prices 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.

Related Topics

Base Oil Reports    Base Stocks    Market Topics    Other