EMEA Base Oil Price Report


European, Middle Eastern and African base oil markets are gradually returning to everyday business as players head back to desks following the winter holidays.

Some lubricant factories will not restart production until next week, but most office work has resumed, and there are reports of inquiries for various quantities and grades of base oils to be purchased during the next few weeks. 

Demand for both base oils and finished products remains weak, but some sources have suggested that the Spring could herald in a new wave of demand from recovering economies around the regions. With a distinct move by the base oil industry to move towards increased spot buying, rather than contracted quantities, producers are in a quandary as to planning inventories and stocks for the upcoming season.

Becoming dependent on spot purchases does nothing to incentivise refiners to invest more in base oil production, hence this year could see a tightening of the markets across the various base oil sectors. 

With weaker demand comes lower prices as producers try to shift quantities of each type of base oil, with API Group I seeing the largest decreases to date as buyers look to lower numbers in offers for January and February. At least there is interest to purchase all types of base stocks, particularly Group III, where worries have started to form regarding future replenishment cargoes arriving into Western markets on time due to the continuing attacks on merchant shipping in the Red Sea by Houthi rebels, who are sympathetic to the Hamas cause in Gaza.

Many vessels are making extended voyages by taking the route around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, but the logistical support is not in place i ports such as Durban to accommodate all vessel requirements for onward passage to Europe and U.S. Ships require bunkers, victuals, water and crew changes, all of which take time to organise for the increasing number of vessels using the route, with long delays outside Durban port of up to fifteen days. The problems are exacerbated due to the lack of any alternative port facilities en route in sub-Saharan Africa.

The the United Kingdom government in conjunction with other allies announced Monday that no further warnings will be issued to Houthis in Yemen should the indiscriminate attacks on merchant shipping continue. Military action will be undertaken to strike at Houthi bases in Yemen to stop the launch of missiles and drones aimed at vessels transiting the Bab al-Mandeb Strait at the southern end of the Red Sea. This is a narrow channel about thirty miles across which is difficult to navigate at the best of times, and with a potential aerial bombardment, becomes a veritable nightmare.

The Red sea problems are affecting the movement of base oil cargoes (in addition to all other commodities) to and from Middle East Gulf and Asia-Pacific sources. Group III exports from United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain will experience difficulties and delays in moving replenishment cargoes to Europe and the U.S. Some vessel owners and operators are declining to offer ships for cargoes which may move through the Red Sea, and with rising freight rates due to higher war risk insurances, and of course increased requirements for bunkers and other provisions should vessels elect to go around the Cape.

Meanwhile in spite of efforts and attempts by some OPEC+ members to try to push crude prices higher, and the Red Sea and Gaza situations, levels have gravitated back down to recent lows reached during the middle of December. 

Poor demand in major economies such as China continues to fail to push crude imports, although it has been reported that Russia has supplied record quantities of crude oil into Chinese markets during the last few months. This information has come about even after the commitments made by Putin to Saudi Arabia that Russia would join in continuing a production cutback at least through Q1 of this year.

In early week trading, dated deliveries of Brent crude posted at $75.60 per barrel, lower by around $2 from one week ago. dated deliveries of Brent crude prices are March front month settlement. West Texas Intermediate crude has also moved lower by around $1 to $70.50 per barrel, remaining in respect of February front month.

Low-sulfur gasoil prices are hovering around similar levels to one week ago. This petroleum product is posting at $748 per metric ton, still in respect of January front month for another three days. All of these prices were obtained from London ICE trading late Jan 8.


At long last a true export sale has been completed, with an unnamed trader buying a total of 7,000 tons of three Group I grades from Eni at Livorno, Italy. The cargo was to be loaded around New Year, the parcel comprising of 1,000 tons of SN150, 4,000 tons of SN500 and 2,000 tons of bright stock.

The prices which were designated specifically for an export sale were incredibly low and set a new precedent for Group I pricing. The grades were sold on an index linked basis using a well known base oil report as a reference. The SN150 was sold at the low of the published range less $85/t, a price equivalent to $665/t. The SN500 was priced at the low of the range less $130/t, equivalent to $745/t, and the bright stock was sold at the low of the reported spread less $165/t, making a price of $965/t. All the net prices were on an FOB basis. 

It is not clear if the quantities reflected the availabilities from Livorno refinery, or whether the trader specifically requested these quantities to cover a requirement. The destination of the cargo has not been identified at the time of writing this report, but may become clearer over the next few days when shipping reports are consulted. The parcel may be destined for either Nigeria, Turkey or Middle East Gulf/India, although with the Red Sea transit problems, the latter may be unlikely.

European export prices are revised to take account of the Livorno cargo, setting new lows for the ranges published in this report. Solvent neutral 150 is now assessed to be between $665/t and $810/t, while the spread for SN500 is adjusted to $745/t-$930/t and bright stock to $965/t-$1,195/t.

Domestic prices in respect of European Group I base oils had been steady over the Festive period, but now with demand deemed to be poor and with producers trying to move quantities of material into this part of the market where traditionally prices and margins have been higher than export sales. Some suppliers have offered discounts for spot sales, encouraging buyers to move into action now rather than wait.

There is always the uncertainty that crude prices could spike, taking base oil prices higher, although that scenario seems unlikely right now given the scene set during the first week of 2024. Buyers are certainly shying away from committing to binding contracted quantities, and are moving to spot purchasing, but with some large quantities being currently discussed between sellers and buyers.

It would appear that each purchase will be sold with its dedicated pricing for that quantity, thereafter further tranches of product will be priced relative to the market when the deal is done.

This process may involve more negotiations between sellers and buyers, and may take more time, but ultimately in a buyers’ market, savings will be achieved and margins may improve going forward.

Prices are softer with SN150 prices in a wide range between €795/t-€875/t, SN500 is between €945/t-€1,055/t, with bright stock in a wide range, between €1,220/t-€1325/t.

The dollar exchange rate to the euro posted on Jan. 8 at $1.09634.

The price differential between Group I exports from Europe and sales within the region is adjusted to take account of the particularly low export prices now being established. The differential is now put between €145/t-€220/t, exports being lower.

European Group II prices had been steady, but reports from last week are showing that levels may have to be discounted even given that demand is said to be healthy. But an expanding differential between Group II and Group I prices is piling pressure on Group II sellers to shave price levels, particularly following the scathing increases which were applied across the board during the last part of 2023.

The Group II average premium to diesel remains acceptable due mainly to the lower values for diesel, with producers and sellers commenting that they do not want to get back to a low premium, which was the lowest of all time prior to the increases applied to Group II base oil grades.

Prices are being eroded by buying requests to have discounts or TVAs included in prices for January, but starting at a relatively high point, there is probably scope for sellers to offer lower numbers to placate the buying community. As mentioend demand appears to have picked up during last week for Group II products, and this may be set to continue through the next couple of months.

Market share remains a number one priority for sellers engaged in the Group II market, with suppliers defending business against a possible influx of lower priced material from AsiaPac sources. However, prices in those regions have rallied and are not so attractive at the moment, and given the Red Sea situation, the signs are that imports from Asia-Pacific sources may be limited and may not take place in the foreseeable future.

Prices are amended to reflect current discounts and temporary volume allowances being offered, hence the lows are moved downward. Levels are now currently being assessed between €985/t-€1,125/t ($1,065/t-$1,225/t) for 100 neutral, 150N and 220N and 600N at €1,195/t-€1,320/t ($1,300/t-$1,440/t).

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

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

The Group III base oil market is perhaps experiencing a turnaround, with a number of blenders expressing concerns that the market could be heading tighter with supplies from Malaysia, U.A.E., Qatar and Bahrain under pressure with the current shipping problems in the Red Sea.

At best there may be delays whilst performing vessels take the circuitous route around South Africa, adding around twenty days to voyage times for these type of ships. The other problem could be a dearth of vessels available for charter due to owners and operators pulling vessels from the route through the Red Sea.

Freight rates will certainly rise, causing producers and shippers to consider raising selling prices in the European and U.S. markets. 

However, Group III prices continue to show weaker numbers, although these levels could change at any time.

The Chinese promotion to break into European markets may be short lived due to logistical and financial penalties involved in the shipping of material from that region.

There will be problems in shipping material from Far Eastern sources into Europe with the announcements today from Maersk and other major container ship companies to reverse a decision to sail through the Red Sea. Most of the large container vessels will now sail around the Cape, adding around an extra 10 days voyage time for these liner vessels, which are doing around 22 knots per hour as opposed to smaller ships carrying bulk cargoes which will sail at between 10-12 knots per hour.

A couple of suppliers are offering index linked prices for either three- or six-month periods starting this month. Levels in respect of offers are understood to be linked to the low prices for 4 and 6 centiStoke Group III grades quoted in a well-known weekly pricing report, less an undisclosed sum.

Prices for Group III grades with only partial slates of finished lubricant approvals or without approvals have dropped to €1,310/t-€1,400/t for 4 centiStoke and 6 cSt and to €1,300/t-€1,345/t for 8 cSt, all on an FCA basis ex Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam or Northwestern Europe. Rerefined 4 cSt is assessed at €1,310/t-€1,365/t, on an FCA basis ex refinery in Germany.

Prices for fully-approved Group III base oils from Spain are also lower, and with many customers reluctant to enter into large contracted sales starting this month, sellers are still having problems getting prices at the right levels. Fully-approved 4 and 6 cSt grades are at €1,645/t-€1,700/t and 8 cSt at €1,625/t-€1,660/t, all on an FCA basis ex hubs in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, Northwestern Europe and Spain.

Baltic and Black Seas

Some Russian refiners are attempting to supply base oils into Turkey but find themselves up against low-priced Group I grades from India. The oils from India, ironically, were produced at low cost because they came from refineries running on discounted Russian crude.

Current FOB prices for SN 150 and SN 500 from Baltic are taken lower to levels around $645/t for SN 150, with SN 500 around $660/t. Blended SN 900 may be available for West Africa at around $72/t.

A Baltic trader has apparently lifted the cargo of 5,000 tons of Russian export barrels out of Vyborg, having sold this quantity to Nigerian buyers. No vessel was identified as sailing from the Baltic to Apapa, although this may have been a Russian or Belarus-flagged vessel that would not normally be reported in the Western shipping logs.

It is reckoned that the cargo would have consisted of a small quantity of SN 150, a larger quantity of SN 500, and the mainstay of the cargo would be around 3,000 tons of blended SN 900. The SN 900 could have been pre-blended in shore storage, or splash-blended when the vessel loaded.

The other Nigerian cargo that was to load out of Svetly appears to have been cancelled due to a number of problems encountered. The problems involved granting extended credit along with payment being received in local naira.

Another Lukoil cargo is set to load out of Kaliningrad possibly with around 5,000 to 8,000 tons of SN 150 and SN 500 to go into Gebze in Turkey. The cargo may load later this month, after finding a suitable vessel willing to perform the voyage. The cargo quantity will ultimately depend on the size of the available vessel.

The tender from Lotos and PK Orlen that was cancelled has not been reissued, but the quantities are still reported to be available for sale. The trader who pursued this quantity outside the tender did not finally make a purchase of any material from this source.  The quantity originally available for the tender may have been placed into the domestic or local market, and subsequently new production will have taken its place, hence the current availability of all three Group I grades from Gdansk.

It is possible that the cargo from Livorno could be destined for Turkey, since the FOB prices would allow Turkish buyers to be able to bid for this supply of 7,000 tons. With CIF prices at around $730/t for SN 150, $820/t for the SN 500 and $1,050/t for the quantity of bright stock, this could be an opportunity for Turkish blenders to lay hands on European quality material at a very competitive prices.

More Russian imports of SN 150 and SN 500 appear to be coming out of Kaliningrad during the winter months, perhaps due to the ice situation on the river Volga at this time. This necessarily involves trucking base oils to Black Sea ports such as Novo, before transferring to Limas terminal in Turkey, a very intensive and costly operation. 

Imported Russian Group I base oil prices are lower, with sources showing CIF indication prices for SN 150 at around €825/t, with SN 500 around €840/t.

Tupras’ prices have remained fixed for fourteen weeks with contacts unsure if there is still availability of base oils coming out of the refinery at Izmir. Levels remain 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 maintained, although levels may start to move downwards during this month. Levels are 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 the 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 remaining unchanged 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. There may be delays to future replenishment cargoes coming through the Red Sea and Suez. 

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

Middle East

Luberef is in the unenviable position of having to load cargoes out of Yanbu and Jeddah, which are located on the Red Sea coast. Obtaining vessels could be a problem, and additionally with the Saudi Aramco parent, they may be viewed by the rebels in Yemen as fair targets for piracy. Also, Saudi Arabia was on the brink of doing a deal with Israel just prior to the Hamas Incursion on Oct. 7 last year. This would have declared a trading arrangement between the two nations to thwart Iran. Taking cargoes from these refineries to the west coast of India, the U.A.E. and Pakistan may be in jeopardy. Cargoes to local Red Sea ports – for example, in Sudan, Jordan and Egypt – may not be affected, other than finding vessels that would normally transit the Red Sea, picking up Luberef cargoes enroute to Suez.

Middle East Gulf sources are hugely concerned regarding the problems with shipping in and out of Middle East Gulf ports such as Bahrain, Al Ruwais and Ras Laffan. Also the ongoing supplies from Yanbu and Jeddah with Group I and Group II base oils could be interrupted.  The region is preparing itself for isolation from Western supply sources, many of which are crucial to operations continuing in the region. Buyers are looking to Asia-Pacific and other Far Eastern sources to cover all eventualities should a Red Sea blockade be imposed by shipping companies on a longer term basis.

Deliveries of finished lubricants coming out of Middle East Gulf are being interrupted, with blenders in the U.A.E. stating that they cannot find enough containers to load for East African, South African and European receivers. Some are looking at the possibilities for overland transportation through Kuwait, Iraq and Turkey to access customers in Europe. There are also problems affecting supplies of additives from supply sources in the West.

Russian base oil delivered prices into the U.A.E. were heard at around $835/t for SN 150, with $855/t for quantities of SN 500.

Middle East Gulf Group III suppliers Adnoc and Bapco have loaded cargoes for the west coast of India and mainland China, to be received by distributors in those regions. These cargoes were able to find suitable vessels to take the base oils, but comments from sources in the U.A.E. have announced that they may have problems obtaining ships from their usual owners, because some have withdrawn vessels from the region that are likely to have to undertake the Red Sea transit. 

Current netbacks in respect of partly-approved base oils from Al Ruwais and Sitra are maintained but could be subject to revision should selling prices remain unchanged whilst transportation costs rise dramatically due to higher freight rates.

Netbacks remain 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. are sourced from various producers located in Europe, the U.S., Asia-Pacific and the Red Sea. 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 from western sources may be subject to change.

Prices are 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 shipping route via the Cape of Good Hope has become the talking point for many in the industry, with many vessels now being diverted from red Sea transits. Durban has become the focus of shipping activity, with vessels having little alternative other than to take on bunkers and water in this port. Meanwhile, operators are arranging supplies of food and other supplies that would normally be provided while transiting the Suez Canal. Crew changes are also being affected, and a whole new set of logistics has been invented quickly to ensure the minimum of delays and cancellations.

The waiting time at Durban has escalated to around 16 days for the average vessel.

Apparently, the offer from a Belarus trader for a 5,000-ton Russian export cargo was accepted by receivers in Lagos, and the cargo has reputedly loaded. Few details can be confirmed on this movement, with sellers remaining silent on shipping details, and receivers not identified. Dates for arrival are also vague.

Another Russian base oil cargo from Lukoil in Kaliningrad appears to have been cancelled amid spurious rumors that there were too many problems to handle this sale. Comments heard from Nigerian sources quoted extended credit being a sticky subject, and the fact that payments would only be made in naira appeared to be the nail in the coffin for this enterprise.

Financing problems continue for any trader doing business in Nigeria, with the naira exchange rate against the dollar being subject to wild swings and variations. That is due to payments for the cargoes being made in local currency, with rates moving all the time, and naira having to be exchanged into dollars on the black market. It is so difficult to build in margins to cover the ups and downs of the naira, particularly on the “alternative market.”

CFR Apapa prices are maintained at least until feedback on the Baltic cargo is related. Prices remain 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