EMEA Base Oil Price Report


This report covers the EMEA area, but the characteristics of base oil supply and demand differ significantly between Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In fact, each of those regions has multiple markets that can also be quite different. There is much variety, for example, between the subregions of Africa, from the relatively sophisticated markets in the South to parts of West Africa where the base oil scene has not changed since the late twentieth century.

The Middle East leans heavily on imports to quench its thirst for API Group I and to a lesser extent Group II base stocks, but it exports large quantities of Group III to global markets in Asia-Pacific, Europe and the United States. Refiners on the Red Sea and in Al Ruwais, United Arab Emirates do make some Group II.

Europe is perhaps the most complex of the three regions. Although numerous Group I plants have closed or been upgraded over the years, the continent still exports large quantities of that grade, and it has also received massive investment the past few years in new production of Group II, and it also has sizable Group III plants in Porvoo, Finland, and Cartagena, Spain. The region also imports Group III from Malaysia, Indonesia, the Middle East and, on the odd occasion, the United States West Coast.

Prices also vary from one region to another, with the same base oils covering a wide range of values depending on exactly where they are being sold and utilized. For example, Group I base oils being produced in Europe or the U.S. will have a totally different pricing model than when imported into the Middle East Gulf or West Africa. Ultimately finished lubricant prices have to be competitive, so the cost of supplying base oils to an area determines whether local blending is economic, or whether it makes more sense to import finished products.

The past 12 months have seen amazing swings in base oil values, with FOB prices for European exports of Group I solvent neutral 500 topping $2,000 per metric ton during the second quarter of last year when demand outstripped supply, then falling below $700/t. At their peak, prices for Group I exports topped those for Group II and III.

The markets have settled back into a more logical and predictable pattern of late. Only Group III oils retain the high premiums realized following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which caused energy prices to spike.

Crude oil prices were stable last week, dipping just a bit from since then. Analysts forecast that they should remain around current levels through spring and summer, buoyed by increased demand from Asia-Pacific, particularly China. Futures are reflecting this rising demand, and a reduction of crude supplied by Russia may tighten markets, helping keep prices elevated.

Dated deliveries of Brent crude are at $83.85 per barrel for April front month settlement, while West Texas Intermediate $77.30/bbl, also for April front month, maintaining the crack at around $7.

Low-sulfur gas oil prices dropped only a degree since last week to $807 per ton for March front month. The European market is short, partly due to a ban on Russian imports. These prices were gathered from London ICE trading late Feb. 20.


Group I export prices changed little the past week on low levels of activity. Sellers of Russian oils continue to scour markets for opportunities to place barrels after getting shut out of the European Union and allied countries.

Trade to Nigeria and other parts of West Africa is conditional on getting satisfactory letters of credit out of the banking system, and this remains a huge problem. As elections approach, the Nigerian economy lurches from one catastrophe to another. The latest is for the government to print totally new naira notes to avoid corruption with the old set of currency. How this action will avoid problems is anyone’s guess, since with the lack of naira and the dearth of foreign currency is preventing the banking system from generating letters of credit needed for imports of petroleum products.

Some market sources are still warning that the market for Group I exports from Europe could tighten if demand increases while multiple plants are idled for planned maintenance, but prices are steady for the moment. SN150 is between $895/t and $955/t, SN500 at $925/t-$985/t and bright stock around $1,075/t-$1,120/t, all on an FOB basis.

There are some deals completed at values falling outside these ranges, such as a 10,000 ton parcel being shipped from a Mediterranean supplier to the U.A.E. The prices were heard at $685/t for SN150, $805/t for SN500 and $1,012/t for bright stock and were arrived at by linking to low values in a published report and then adding a substantial discount.

Group I activity within Europe suggests buyers may be going into action to replace bereft inventories that have not been topped up since the third quarter of last year. Buyers are still of the opinion that availabilities are good and that there is little pressure to enter the market for large quantities of Group I base oils, but this picture may be about to change as output from Group I refineries decreases and with many predicting that demand will rise.

Prices seem stable to firm as the spring and summer peak in driving – and therefore automotive engine oil demand – approaches during an absence of Russian imports.

Prices for Group I trade within the region have not moved since the beginning of February and remain at €1,070/t-€1,120/t for SN150, €1,185/t-€1,225/t for SN500 and around €,1395/t for bright stock. The exception is a South Korean seller offering Group I barrels from Saudi Arabia at lower levels, from stocks held in Rotterdam.

The euro is has lost some value against the dollar, posting this week at $1.0685.

Because little trade has been completed on the export side and there have been no changes to intra-regional pricing, the price differential between exports and trade within the region is unchanged at €95/t-€185/t, exports being lower.

Group II prices around Europe are again unchanged since markdowns announced a few weeks back. A couple energy majors are basically the price setters for Group II in Europe since they hold substantial shares of the market. The rationale behind those price reductions remains somewhat of a mystery, although a number of sources have suggested that the spread between Group I and II prices was too large and causing problems for Group II sellers. Group II prices remain at a record low premium to diesel, maintaining the drive for refiners to optimize distillate production.

Group II prices are at $1,130/t-$1,140/t (€1,055/t-€1,065) for 100 neutral, 150N and 220N and at $1,300/t-$1,325/t (€1,215/t-€1,238/t) for 600N. These values apply to an extensive range of Group II oils from Europe, the U.S., Asia-Pacific and Middle East Gulf sources, supplied either in bulk or in flexi-tanks.

Group III base oil markets around Europe are active, and with some large players are starting to apply allocations, limiting offtake of 4 and 6 centiStoke grades to 80% of last years’ comparative purchases. Further shortages could be coming during the summer period as suppliers from the Middle East Gulf and Asia-Pacific cannot increase quantities available for the European market.

Group III markets therefore remain tight, and can no longer be described as being in balance, since there appears to be a definite shortfall, particularly for oils with full slates of finished lubricant approvals. Another large 17,000 ton cargo from Cartagena remains in prime position to go into the Rotterdam hub, and 2,000 ton parcel has also moved to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Prices for Group III oils with partial slates of approvals are unchaged at €1,700/t-€1,735/t for 4 and 6 cSt and €1,675/t-€1,725/t for 8 cSt, all on an FCA basis ex Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam or Northwestern Europe. Prices for grades with full slates of approvals have risen to €2,050/t-€2,100/t for 4 and 6 cSt. Eight cSt oils are available at €2,075/t-€2,125/t, but demand is low for this grade within Europe. These values apply to FCA sales from hubs in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam and Northwestern Europe and ex refineries in Finland and Spain.

Baltic and Black Seas

Baltic trades have completely changed since the European Union ban on imports started on Feb. 5.  Most of the cargoes identified are moving to deep-sea locations such as West Africa and the United Arab Emirates. Lukoil continues to offer material to Indian buyers, but so far has not finalized any deals into the west coast of India. In trying to open up alternative markets, logistics are stacked against sending cargoes from the Baltic because – apart from the obvious cost of freight implications – voyage time is also against supply from Baltic terminals, with additional time added to supplies from nearer to hand such as the Mediterranean, or even northwest Europe. Other suppliers have the edge when it comes to chartering a vessel because Russian charterers are limited in the tonnage available to them, due to a pan-European ban on Russian agencies.

Russian refiner Lukoil continues to ship base oils from Kaliningrad, where another large cargo of around 11,000 tons may be destined for Gebze in Turkey. Other loading offers are on the table for similar sized cargoes to move into the U.A.E. and/or the west coast of India.

Southern Baltic activity is mooted at present, with Gdansk supplier Lotos not having any prompt availability at this time.

Baltic FOB prices from Riga or Svetly for SN 150 are maintained at existing levels at $685/t-$735/t, with SN 500 also unchanged at $800/t-$845/t. Prices are offered as indications only.

FOB prices for Group I material that may start to load out of Gdansk later this month are part of the European mainstream pricing, with SN 150 assessed at $900/t-$960/t, with SN 500 at $930/t-$985/t, depending on destination. Bright stock, where applicable, is assessed at $1,080/t-$1,125/t.

Black Sea and East Mediterranean trade has Turkey importing large quantities of Russian Group I base oils. Importers are taking in around 35,000-40,000 tons of Russian base oils every month. Prices are attractive, and with Russian suppliers keen to preserve this outlet for base oils, they ensure that Turkish buyers receive very low prices to encourage them to maintain this trade.

There is also a trade using Limas terminal, where base oils are transshipped before being offered to buyers in the U.A.E. or Mumbai. A parcel of 5,000 tons is being assembled through Batumi port, possibly coming out of Volgograd refinery. With the Volga river closed due to ice at the moment, these base oils will be trucked into Batumi and then loaded on to a vessel for delivery into Limas. The cargo will then be re-shipped to receivers in either the U.A.E. or India. The operation must be incredibly expensive, so it is thought that the refinery gate prices for the SN 150 and SN 500 will be extremely low to counter the freight element.

There are, however, cargoes sought from Livorno and Aghio, with one parcel of around 5,000 tons prepared for loading towards the end of February for receivers in Gebze. Some blenders prefer to take Mediterranean quality base stocks rather than Russian material, which can have lower viscosity index and darker color, which can affect certain blends of finished lubricants.

Imports from Livorno and Aghio have new offered prices heard at around $960/t-$985/t for quantities of SN 150, with SN 500 and 600 at $995/t-$1,025/t on a CIF basis. 

The announcement from Tupras around the end of February is eagerly awaited, and the outcome of that announcement is thought to concern the future of base oil production at Izmir refinery. Whether Tupras continue to produce Group I base oils at that plant remains to be confirmed when the announcement is made at the end of February.

Group II prices ex-tank remain unchanged and are assessed at €1,485/t-€1,565/t for the three lower vis products – 100N, 150N and 220N – with 600N at €1,590/t-€1,640/t. Supplies of Group II grades arrive from Red Sea, the U.S., South Korea and U.K.

Group III partly-approved base oils sold on an FCA basis are assessed at €1,865/t-€1,900/t. Fully-approved Group III grades delivered into ports such as Gemlik from Cartagena in Spain are priced at around €2,250-€2,300/t FCA.

Middle East

Red Sea traffic shows the usual raft of large cargoes moving out of Yanbu and Jeddah to the west coast of India, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. Additionally, smaller cargoes are also moving to Singapore and Durban.  

In addition to the large Red Sea cargoes going into the U.A.E., parcels from Rayong in Thailand are arriving in Hamriyah and Ras al Khaimah. Also, as reported previously, a number of parcels are going against the “normal” trade flow, coming into Hamriyah from Indian ports such as Hazira, Chennai and Haldia. There is also one cargo loading out of Mumbai for Hamriyah.

The large cargo of Group I base oils coming from Livorno to the U.A.E. is in route with expected ETA into the U.A.E. during first half of March. The cargo is a total of 10,000 tons made up of three grades of Group I base oils – SN 150, SN 500 and bright stock –and was conducted by a trader based in Switzerland.

Prices heard had FOB numbers around $685/t for SN 150, SN 500 at $805/t and bright stock at $1,012/t. These levels would produce indicative CIF prices at around $795/t for the SN 150, $915/t for SN 500 and bright stock at around $1,120/t CIF U.A.E. These numbers can compete against Russian barrels, which will also have been offered to the same receivers.

Other alternative Group I base oil cargoes are offered from mainland Europe and the U.S. Gulf Coast, with options for discharge into the U.A.E. or the west coast of India. Russian offers for supplies from Kaliningrad are also made, in addition to the same supplier offering 5,000 tons out of Limas terminal in Turkey. Russian suppliers Lukoil or Litasco are offering exceptionally low numbers to maintain a presence in the U.A.E. market, while at the same time break into the Indian market.  Specification can be an issue with lower viscosity index and darker color than optional supplies from Europe or the United States, but prices are extremely competitive. Delivery lag is a problem for receivers in the U.A.E., with sailing time from Baltic to the U.A.E. tying up capital for an unacceptable length of time.

The second ExxonMobil cargo of 12,000 tons loaded out of Rotterdam and sailed for Augusta in Sicily, with a combination of Group II and Group I base oils. The vessel will call at Yanbu, then finally discharge the cargo in Jebel Ali.

Two Shell cargoes will load Group III base oils from Sitra refinery in Bahrain, one going into the U.S. Gulf Coast and the other into Rotterdam. Both cargoes are around the same size at 7,000 tons each.

Another smaller cargo of around 2,000 tons will load out of Al Ruwais for receivers at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Mumbai port.

Netbacks for partly-approved and non-approved Group III base oils loading out of Al Ruwais and Sitra are maintained at the new higher levels. Netback returns are assessed at $1,745/t-$1,795/t, for the range of 4 centiStoke, 6 cSt and 8 cSt partly-approved Group III base oils.

Netback levels are based on local FCA prices in markets such as Europe, India, the U.S., and China. Netback levels are derived from regional selling prices, less marketing, handling and estimated freight costs.

Group II base oils selling FCA basis in the U.A.E. are sourced out of European, U.S, Asia-Pacific and Red Sea producers. These grades are available FCA U.A.E., or on a truck delivered basis within the U.A.E. and Oman. Prices are unchanged this week, with levels at $1,495/t-$1,545/t for the light vis grades, with 500N and 600N at $1,495/t-$1,545/t. The high ends of the ranges refer to road tank wagon-delivered base oils.


South African shipping sources reconfirmed the large cargo of base oils and chemicals that loaded out of Rotterdam and Fawley. The vessel will first deliver 5,000 tons of three Group I grades to receivers in Tema in Ghana. The vessel will then proceed to Durban to discharge the remaining balance of the cargo, around 20,000 tons in total. The same major will also deliver 6,000 tons of Group I base oils to receivers in Conakry, Guinea, and Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire.  A further large cargo of some 20,000 tons will load in March out of Rotterdam and Fawley for Durban and Mombasa. The composition of the cargo is unknown at this juncture.

The Lukoil cargo of 10,000 tons from Svetly terminal in Kaliningrad has not been confirmed as of yet and remains under evaluation for receivers in Apapa. This may be due to the current problems in Nigeria with both currency and also the local currency, naira – both are in short supply. The problem is anticipated to be the letter of credit from the local Nigerian bank, because there are severe delays to the banking instrument that is regulatory for all imports going into Nigeria.

The shipping inquiry for 10,000 tons of Group I base oils to load out of a West Mediterranean port for Lagos does not appear to be taking place. Traders confirmed that they are still awaiting the issuance of the letter of credit from one of the local Nigerian banks.

Offered prices for this cargo are higher than Russian Baltic prices and may be around $1,075/t for SN 150, SN 500 is estimated at around $1,125/t, and SN 900 is priced at around $1,165/t. There are delays to the letter of credit, however, and without that issuance, the cargo will not load.

CFR levels for base oils discharging in Apapa are given as indications only.

Levels are assessed at $1,000/t for SN 150, SN 500 at around $1,050/t, and SN 900 at $1,095/t. As an indication only, bright stock is assessed at around $1,220/t CFR Apapa. Bright stock will have been part of the Livorno parcel and also the Rotterdam/Fawley cargo.

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 Pricing Report    Base Stocks    Market Topics    Other