EMEA Base Oil Price Report


The Middle East conflict deepened the past week as the United States attacked multiple sites in Syria and Iraq that it claimed were home to militias involved in attacks against U.S. military facilities.

The U.S. strikes were payback for a Jan. 28 drone attack on its Tower 22 base in Jordan, where three U.S. service personnel were killed and many others seriously wounded.

Iran has denied any and all responsibility for attacks by groups around the region said by critics to be proxies of the Islamic republic. Iranian officials have sworn to avenge any direct or indirect attacks on Iranian sites or people by the U.S.

These actions and recriminations have intensified the conflict that began with a Hamas invasion of Israel on Oct. 7 last year. Houthi attacks on merchant and naval vessels in the Red Sea continues, though the U.S. and the United Kingdom have intercepted most drones and missiles.

Meanwhile, a number of shipping companies have elected to avoid the Red Sea by transiting around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, causing mayhem for logistics planners trying organize sea shipments. Delays and increased costs will continue for months to come, industry sources have said.

From a base oil perspective, the most affected supplies are Group III stocks which are coming into Europe and the U.S. from sites in Malaysia and the Middle East Gulf.

This is of course assuming that suitable vessels are to be found for these voyages – not a foregone conclusion since many vessel owners are opting not to offer them for voyages to European and U.S. destinations due to higher costs, crew scheduling and the longer times needed to avoid the Red Sea and Suez Canal.

There have been a number of inquiries by regular customers around Europe about whether API Group III oils – much of which are imported to Europe from points east – will continue to be available. Some suppliers reportedly have replied that no absolute assurances can be given.

New logistics and increased costs will exert pressure on abilities of suppliers to replenish stocks. Even if vessels stick to Suez routes, they will likely face increased insurance costs. 

Crude oil prices have surprisingly been on the retreat since the past report. The sentiment a week ago was that crude would continue rising, but the opposite happened. Demand is perceived to be weak, despite announcements by Saudi Arabia that it will maintain its production cutbacks and may even cut back further. The kingdom is currently pumping 9 million barrels per day, far short of its capacity.

Dated deliveries of Brent crude fell nearly $6 the past week to $76.95 per barrel, now for April front month settlement. West Texas Intermediate took a similar course to $71.80/bbl, for March front month.

Low-sulfur gasoil was rising fast but fell back around $40 to $822 per metric ton, still for February front month, deemed by some to be elevated relative to crude. All of these prices were obtained from London ICE trading late Feb. 5.


The European Group i export market had returned but will be impacted by Eni’s decision to cease base oil production at its Livorno, Italy, refinery when the site converts to processing plant materials. Interestingly, from shipping reports there have been three crude deliveries to Livorno in the past couple weeks, bring feedstock that could last into March.

Eni’s announcement said base oil operations were already starting to close down, but it remains to be seen when the flow will stop. Two export cargoes have already been sold to traders. The first was a 7,000 ton parcel of three Group I grades that has been delivered to receivers in Gebze, Turkey. The second is assumed to consist of 5,000 tons bound for the same destination.

To sail these cargoes to India or the United Arab Emirates would likely be too expensive given the current Red Sea complications.

The pricing for the second parcel was believed to be on the same price linked basis as the first, $645 per ton for solvent neutral 150, $725/t for SN500 and $945/t for bright stock, all on an FOB basis. Given estimated freight costs of around $55/t, resultant CIF delivered prices may remain at the same levels as previously – around $760/t for SN150, $840/t for SN500 and $1,060/t for bright stock.

Other cargoes were offered to traders, one being out of Gdansk for around 4,500-5,000 tons of Group I grades, and another out of Algeciras, Spain, that may remain unsold when this report was written. Greek sellers are also offering material into Turkey with a parcel of around 4,500 tons for Derince. 

Prices for Group I exports from Europe are reduced to take into account the lower priced material out of Livorno and are now between $645/t and $810/t for SN150, $725/t-$930/t for SN500 and $945/t-$1,195/t for bright stock.

European domestic Group I prices were under pressure, but some buyers now think the market may start to shrink when Livorno converts. As a result, there is considerable buying interest to take up available barrels between now and April.

Refiners are not going to pump large capital sums into renovating Group I facilities, hence when replacement of major parts of a base oil unit come up for review, it is the opinion of many in the industry that that will be the time when a decision to close production will be taken. Essentially the market is seeing a repeat of the trend started in the U.S. where Group II base oils have become the workhorse grades, replacing Group I on a major scale. Group I production in the U.S. mainly goes for export into Latin and South America, and European production may also follow this route with the remaining ( and declining )Group I output going into regional markets in West Africa and Turkey.

However, with the pressure coming off crude and product prices, buyers are not ken to be paying top dollar prices for Group I avails, many aer aware of export offers which have been circulated in the market and the vast differentials which have been applied to export sales rather than domestic, are somewhat embarrassing for some suppliers. Domestic buyers have called these examples of pricing ludicrous and are prepared to take larger quantities for similar prices.

There is a measure of confusion around the domestic base oil markets as to which way prices will move in the next few weeks, with different pressures causing varying attitudes to change. With one camp asking for lower numbers, and another looking to buy quantities of Group I base stocks, believing, rightly or wrongly, that the market may be moving shorter.

Buyers however are still preferring to move away from term contracts, and overall demand remaining sluggish, spot purchases are being preferred. With interest rates remaining high, buyers do not want create large inventories of base oil, when purchases can be made as and when required.

Prices are judged not to have moved lower prices appear to have remained similar to January levels. SN150 prices remain between €895/t-€980/t, SN500 is placed between €935/t-€1000/t, with bright stock between €1130/t-€1220/t.

The dollar exchange rate to the euro has moved a little, posting on Monday 5th February at $1.07301. The price average differential between domestic and export prices is maintained between €135/t-€200/t, but if Livorno export prices are specified then the differential moves to around €350/t.

European Group II prices are steady, but with rather poor demand looking forward into February. Some sellers are confident that the market will see an uptick during the next few weeks, but there is little evidence to suggest this course.

Many industries are still in the doldrums with major economies such as Germany, France and Benelux all awaiting a resurrection to industrial production and a ramping up of commercial activity. The threat of European imports coming in from Asia-Pacific sources appears to have disappeared with no reported cargoes or flexies being identified. European production continues uninterrupted, as do imports from U.S. sources.

Indicative prices for the 110N grade are at €1,055/t-€1,080/t, 220N at €1,090/t-€1,100/t and 600N at €1,200/t-€1,225/t. Some major players are selling above these levels but these prices are in line with other suppliers.

Prices are maintained for February with levels assessed between €1,045/t-€1,125/t ($1,130/t-$1,225/t) for 100 neutral, 110N, 150N and 220N, and at €1,195/t-€1,320/t ($1,300/t-$1,440/t) for 600N. All of these prices apply to a range of Group II base oils from European and U.S. sources, all imported in bulk.

In the European Group II market, 100N and 150N grades are sometimes priced higher than 220N due to demand and higher usage of the lighter grades. although U.S. imported material has 220N prices at €30/t premium to 110N.  

European Group III markets are moving in response to the growing anxiety regarding replenishment cargoes and the higher costs which will be attached to these parcels. Irrespective of whether delivering vessels take the Red Sea route or divert around the Cape, freight rates will be significantly higher, and voyages will be extended if the latter route is taken. Finding out what sellers attitudes are to covering these higher costs, is not yet clear, but there are noises around with some sellers testing the market with suggested new prices which are significantly above current values.

Higher prices have been seen as reactions to potential shortages caused by the Red Sea situation.

There is sufficient availability at the moment, but depending on when replenishment cargoes are declared and organised, this situation could change quickly. With uncertainty from Middle East Gulf and Malaysia, and additionally, the Porvoo nine week turnaround starting in April, the Group III market could face shortages of material.

Other routine turnarounds will also take place throughout the year, potentially shortening the market further. The production at Cartagena will go into maintenance later this Spring, and although this is a routine turnaround, all these interruptions to the supply chain will add up. SK Ensure also have a large turnaround at their Korean refinery which could potentially shorten the markets further.

European Group III prices are rising and may have a lot further to go. It has not been assessed what the actual increased costs will be for moving cargoes to Europe and the U.S., but on talking to shipping contacts it is being estimated that freight rates will have to rise by up to 50%. This could mean a cost increase to deliver a cargo to Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam of around $60/t-$85/t.

Prices Group III oils with partial slates of finished lubricant approvals or without approvals are now assessed at €1,555/t-€1,595/t for 4 and 6 centiStoke and at €1,565/t-€1,600/t for 8 cSt, all on an FCA basis ex Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam and Northwestern Europe. Re-refined 4 cSt is also higher at €1,485/t-€1,520/t, on an FCA basis ex refinery in Germany.

Prices for fully-approved Group III base oils from Spain are also moving upwards, but are not yet returning to their lofty peaks of early 2023. Fully-approved 4 and 6 cSt grades are assessed at €1,735/t-€1,770/t, whiel 8 cSt is at €1,725/t-€1,755/t, all on an FCA basis ex hubs in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, Northwestern Europe and Spain.

Baltic and Black Seas

Baltic ports have been receiving more European and U.S. imported base oils than they have been exporting. Without the former steady stream of Russian export barrels, the Baltic has transformed into a different marketplace. Russian exports from Svetly in Kaliningrad are also less than previously with no cargoes now moving to European Union or United Kingdom ports.

There is a Polish cargo from Lotos in Gdansk, where a quantity of around 5,000 tons – made up of two or three Group I grades – sold to a trader who may have lifted the cargo during last week. There are apparently further availabilities for February, but quantities and dates have not been advised as yet.

Further availabilities from Gdansk may go to receivers in Lithuania or Latvia, which are looking for European quality Group I base oils.

Current FOB prices for SN 150 and SN 500 from the Baltic are indicated at levels around $625/t for SN 150, with SN 500 around $640/t. Blended SN 900 could be available at around $690/t.

Turkish base oil markets are starting to look up with an importing of two cargoes from Livorno. The arrival of around a total of 12,000 tons of three Group I grades will provide Turkish blenders access to European quality Group I material at attractive price levels, which were impossible to countenance prior to the Livorno barrels.

Greek sellers have also offered a cargo thought to be 4,000 to 5,000 tons of two Group I grades – SN 150 and SN 600 – for delivery to Derince. Prices will be firmer than those for the Italian cargo.

Some sources in Turkey suggested that Russian base oil imports are being conducted on a government-to-government basis, although how this actually works is pure guesswork. Russian sellers, such as Lukoil and Litasco, are being sponsored and encouraged by the Kremlin to maintain exports of all petroleum products to Turkey, where there is a dumping ground for surplus Russian barrels that could not be sold or offered to any other market.

Russian imports of SN 150 and SN 500 are presently coming out of Kaliningrad and Volgograd, going into storage facilities in Gebze and also Limas. Clarification is being sought regarding how a vessel chartered by a Russian company would be seen by Houthi rebels, and whether some type of pass would effectively leave such a vessel un-attacked. If the cargo is Russian origin, with a “suitable” vessel, the rebel Houthis may grant safe passage. The investigative process is far from easy, with many parties contacted refusing to comment.

Imported Russian Group I base oil prices are lower, with sources giving CIF indication prices for SN 150 at around €785/t, with SN 500 around €795/t.

Tupras at Izmir have prices as follows: SN 150 at $802/t (Tl 24,519), SN 500 at $878/t (Tl 27,024) and bright stock at $1,085/t (Tl 33,167). Prices in Turkish lira are ex-rack plus a loading charge of Tl 5,150/t.  The Turkish lira levels remain the same, but with ongoing devaluation of the Turkish lira, dollar equivalents are now less.

Group II prices ex-tank remain unchanged, with prices around €1,195/t-€1,175/t for the three lower vis grades – 100N, 150N and 220N – with 600N at €1,385/t-€1,475/t. Group II grades may be sourced from Red Sea, the United States, South Korea or Rotterdam.

Partly-approved Group III base oils are on an FCA basis or on a truck-delivered basis, and an extra charge of around €35/t for local deliveries will apply. Tatneft 4 cSt grade remains at €1,465/t. Supplies that arrived from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and the Asia-Pacific remain at €1,575/t-€1,620/t FCA.

Fully-approved Group III grades delivered into Gemlik from Spain and resold on an FCA basis have prices raised at €1,920/t-€1,965/t FCA.

Middle East

It is not clear how Luberef is coping in the Red Sea ports of Yanbu and Jeddah, with availability of vessels limited. Although this company use regular owners for vessels to be chartered and loaded, there may be problems getting owners to agree to sail vessels into and out of the Red Sea, where Saudi-chartered vessels would be “fair game” for Houthi rebels to attack. There are still ship movements from Yanbu and Jeddah, but how these are being accomplished is unknown.

Base oils in large quantities can only be transported by sea. With receivers in the west coast of India and the U.A.E. reliant on receiving large cargoes of Group I and Group II base stocks on a regular basis, the Bab al-Mandeb Strait – where Houthi attacks continue – must be causing problems. Space on parcel chemical tankers that was chartered for loading smaller parcels of base oil to receivers in Egypt, Jordan and Sudan will be unavailable due to vessels re-routing around the Cape.

Middle East Gulf base oil players are living from day to day, and many are desperate to receive supplies of base oils and additives from Western sources. These supplies have been interrupted, delayed and in some cases cancelled due to a shortage of either containers or even vessels to take bulk cargoes into the region. Additive suppliers are looking to related producers in the Asia-Pacific that can help with supplies into receivers in India and Middle East Gulf. The shipping situation is now critical, with increasing difficulties in moving material in and out of Middle East Gulf ports.

Supplies of Group I and Group II base oils from Yanbu and Jeddah are subject to delay and cancellation with major supply chain interruptions creating havoc for blenders in the U.A.E. that are trying to alter supply sources,

The whole Middle East Gulf region is experiencing delays and cancellations from supply sources in the West with some U.A.E. contacts looking to Indonesia, China, Singapore and South Korea for supplies of additives and packaging.

Exports of finished lubricants coming out of Middle East Gulf are being held up, awaiting containers and vessels to load these. One source related to this report that normal schedules for vessels calling at container ports have been scrapped and new dates are being hastily arranged for vessels to call at ports such as Fujairah and Jebel Ali, where container facilities are in place.

U.S. operator President Lines had a container liner service calling at Fujairah port, but vessels have been randomly looking for new dates and times to discharge and reload containers. Essentials such as certain foods and clothing are not getting through to the U.A.E. markets.

Russian base oils delivered prices into the U.A.E. are indicated at around $835/t for SN 150, with $855/t for quantities of SN 500. It is unclear if this trade is affected by Houthi rebels or whether a truce is called on Russian cargoes and ships.

Group III suppliers Adnoc and Bapco loaded cargoes for the west coast of India and mainland China, with vessels that came into the Gulf from the Far East or that use local ships that ply their trade between India and Middle East Gulf. But there are cargoes to load for Europe and the U.S., and these could be problematic in getting suitable vessels to take the cargoes.

Shell decreed that no tankers will transit the Red Sea, but instead will take the Cape route. In the case of base oils, this will include cargoes of Group III loading out of Ras Laffan in Qatar with cargoes for U.S. and Europe. Stasco cargoes loading material out of Sitra for Europe will also be affected. These alterations to voyages will increase costs and may drive up the prices of landed Group III base oils coming into the European and U.S. markets. 

Netbacks for partly-approved base oils from Al Ruwais and Sitra are pushed upwards again, in response to higher selling prices in the European market. With an estimated 50% rise in freight rates, suppliers of Group III base oils will have to pass on incremental costs to buyers, hence netbacks are protected, although it will take some time to assimilate all costs.

Netbacks are at $1,495/t-$1,550/t for the 4 centiStoke, 6 cSt and 8 cSt partly-proved and non-approved Group III grades. Netbacks for gas-to-liquid Group III+ base oils from Ras Laffan in Qatar are also higher and are revised upwards by a further $25/t-$40/t and are around $1,510/t-$1,555/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. can be sourced from various producers located in Europe, the U.S., the Asia-Pacific and the Red Sea. These supplies are now subject to supply interruptions and delays. Base oils are sold either ex-tank in the U.A.E., or on a delivered basis by truck within the U.A.E. and Oman. Prices from Western sources may be subject to change should delivery costs rise.

Prices are maintained, with levels remaining assessed at $1,620/t-$1,685/t for the light vis grades 100N, 150N and 220N, with 600N at $1,735/t-$1,795/t. The high ends of the ranges refer to road tank wagon deliveries to buyers in the U.A.E. and Oman.


South Africa shipping agency sources informed this report that the original vessel to discharge in three ports will not load yet, but another large cargo will load for Durban only. This cargo will be comprised of around 18,000 tons of various base oils.  The other cargo may load in March but is not yet confirmed for Durban, Mombasa, and Dar-es-Salaam. There may be options to load out of Singapore for Mombasa and Dar, but again this is hearsay and is not confirmed.

The cargo for Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana has sailed and should be arriving in West Africa around mid-February.

In Nigeria the cargo from Vyborg in the Baltic was eventually confirmed, and it is understood that this parcel of around 6,000 tons is sold to one receiver, making payments and cargo discharging relatively simple. But nothing is simple in Nigeria. The news is that the cargo loaded in January and was sold on bill of lading plus 60 days on open credit. It has not been established if the cargo will be paid primarily in dollars, or whether naira will be remitted and exchanged on the black market.

The Nigerian market for base oils is being wrecked by a number of traders who are price cutting each other trying to buy their way into what they obviously see as a viable and profitable market. Some say otherwise – with a couple traders electing not to “play the game” at the moment – but others say to leave the cowboys to metaphorically cut each other’s throats and come back to the market when things stabilize.

CFR Apapa prices are indications, with numbers eroded due to the actions above. They are now put at around $930/t-$950/t for SN 150, $1,000/t-$1,020/t for SN 500 and SN 900 at around $1,040/t-$1,060/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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