EMEA Base Oil Price Report


API Group I base oil prices have tumbled in Europe on the back of exceptionally aggressive export pricing from Eni in Livorno, Italy.

But the company, of course, recently announced plans to close the refinery’s base oil plant, which is an important Group I source for the region, and it is unclear why it would offer such low rates on remaining stocks.

Crude cargoes arrived to the refinery during January, so it is understood that base oil production is continuing possibly into March. Messages from the company have been mixed, however, with some employees saying there has been no absolute decree that base oil production will cease, even while formal announcements have spoken of imminent curtailing of output.

It would not be surprising to see further cargo quantities of base oils being made available in coming weeks, although nothing is certain now.

The prices being offered are below feedstock values, suggesting that they are being held artificially low in an effort to clear remaining stocks from storage. The same base oils are being offered in the Italian market at much higher numbers, begging the question of why the Eni is not directing more material to local sales.

Eni has said it will continue manufacture its branded finished lubricants at various blending plants around Italy, but it is not clear where base oils will be sourced.

The Israeli-Hamas conflict continues in Gaza, where Israeli Defense Forces are mounting attacks on the city of Rafah, where millions of Palestinians are sheltering from the violence. Israel is justifying its actions by finding tunnels where Hamas rebels have been hiding and controlling continuing missile attacks on Israeli settlements. Houthi rebels in Yemen are also continuing attacks on merchant and naval vessels in the Red Sea, disrupting trade from Asia into Europe and the United States.

The disruption is increasing transportation costs – costs that will have to be absorbed into selling prices for imported goods – and crimping availability of ships and containers. Industry sources are issuing advance warnings that the problems could last months, if not years.

The Houthi attacks are continuing despite U.S. and United Kingdom strikes on bases in Yemen. As long as they do, pressure will build on Western economies, which according to some are already facing risk of recession.

Group II prices around the regions are varied. An extensive maintenance turnaround beginning at ExxonMobil’s plant in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and interruptions to supplies going into India and the Middle East Gulf from Red Sea sources, have tended to fuel speculation that prices might start to rise.

Prospects for Group III oils are still being evaluated against the backdrop of the Red Sea problems, which stand to effect supplies from Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – all of which regularly ship cargoes to European and U.S. markets. There could be at least delays to replenishment cargoes and extra costs due to increased freight rates, extra insurance costs and or costs of enlisting armed guards for vessels making the transit through the Red and the Suez Canal.

Crude oil costs rose the past few days and appeared firmer at the start of this week. Demand remains weaker than producers would prefer, but the sentiment surrounding the complex Middle East situation is weighing heavy on minds around Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Dated deliveries of Brent crude are at $82 per barrel, for April front month settlement, almost $6 higher than last week. West Texas Intermediate also increased to $76.85/bbl, still for March front month.

Prices for low-sulfur gasoil have skyrocketed, but explanations for the nearly $100 run-up are scarce to find. The product now trades at $908/t, still for February front month. All of these prices were obtained from London ICE trading late Feb. 5.


Prices for Group I exports from Europe have crashed as suppliers are taking stock of the prices for Livorno barrels and aggressive bids from buyers. Some producers have declined to meet them and attempted to place “export” material back into local markets where prices are higher. The question is, can the latter markets absorb those quantities or will values there need to fall as well.

News of the impending Livorno closure has rocked the Group I market, since this refinery was a large supplier in the past for export markets. Supplies from Livorno routinely went into Nigeria, the U.A.E. and India in years gone by. Its shuttering looks like another nail in the coffin for Group I supplies in Europe.

Livorno may yet yield some surprises, as some contacts suggested more cargoes may be offered for sale in coming days or weeks. It could take some time to use the crude oil currently on site or vacuum gasoil coming from its cracker.

Looking at the market and the complexities of shipping to points East, Turkey may be open to take more European quality Group I base oils, especially since Eni’s current prices can compete with Russian imports that currently swamp the Turkish market.

Export cargoes are also being offered from other sources: a quantity out of Gdansk, Poland, bought by a Swiss trader; availabilities from Algeciras, Spain, although those quantities are not large enough for a deep-sea voyage to, for example, West Africa; materials being offered from Aghio, Greece, to buyers in Turkey. A market source suggested that Israeli blenders could be looking for Group I supplies, and protection from Israeli and allied warships might make it easier than expected to get the material into Haifa.

Prices for Group I exports from Europe, which already included the very low levels out of Livorno, are unchanged this week at between $645/t and $810/t for solvent neutral 150, $725/t-$930/t for SN500 and $945/t-$1,195/t for bright stock.

Prices for Group I sales within Europe are coming under pressure due to weak demand and plentiful availabilities. Export values have sparked questions as to why local intra-regional prices are so much higher. Buyers are pushing to have prices trimmed by considerable sums, but sellers are resisting, citing rising diesel prices as an example of increasing raw material costs. The announcement about the conversion of the Livorno refinery raises the prospect that supply could turn short.

Regulators in Poland are investigating the proposed merger of Lotos and PK Orlen – a deal that previously appeared to have a rubber stamp. Some observers had suggested that Lotos’ Gdansk refinery might close after the deal went through. Regulators have not disclosed what they are investigating. Some observers predict their work will only delay approval of the deal.

Buyers however continue to shy away from term contracts, preferring spot procurement while demand is weak and borrowing costs high.

Prices for Group I sales within the region are unchanged this week at €895/t-€980/t for SN150, €935/t-€1,000/t for SN500 and €1,130/t-€1,220/t for bright stock.

The dollar exchange rate to the euro has remained static, posting Monday $1.07638. The price differential between Group I exports from Europe and sales within the region has swelled to €155/t-€245/t, exports being lower.

European Group II prices are stable, but events on the horizon could affect availabilities later this year. Demand still is not back to pre-pandemic levels – a fact that many attribute to poor demand for finished lubes. Major economies such as Germany, France, Spain and Benelux are in limbo, waiting for interest rates to fall and inflation to come under control. Until then spending on capital projects is unlikely to rise.

The threat of Asia-Pacific exports to Europe appears to have been doused as no shipments can be identified now – perhaps due in part to the Red Sea problem.

Indicative prices for the lightest Group II grades – 100 neutral, 110N and 150N – are €1,030/t-€1,080/t, while 220N is at €1,060/t-€1,100/t and 600N at €1,160/t-€1,225/t. The lows in those ranges pertain to one U.S. importer who had dropped levels to attract buyers, and it is thought that this importer will bring in five more cargoes during the first half of the year. The cargo sizes are not known yet, but typically would range from 5,000 to 8,000 tons with three Group II grades.

The shrinking Group II premium to diesel reared its head again this week, with a surge in diesel numbers, exerting upward pricing pressure on the base oil category, which on the other hand faces downward pressure from low demand.

Group II prices are revised for February at €1,030/t-€1,125/t ($1,100/t-$1,225/t) for 100N, 110N, 150N and 220N and at €1,160/t-€1,320/t ($1,240/t-$1,440/t) for 600N. These prices apply to a range of Group II oils from Europe, the U.S., and, in the past, Red Sea sources, imported in bulk. In Europe, 100N and 150N grades are sometimes priced higher than 220N due to demand, although U.S. imported material from more than one source has 220N prices at a premium of around €30/t over 110N.  

European Group III markets are in a state of flux, with some reports of prices rising and others of them falling. There are concerns that replenishment cargoes may not arrive on a timely basis and that they may be more expensive due to shipping rates. Availabilities are fine at the moment, but there are concerns that this situation could change given uncertainties surrounding supplies from the Middle East Gulf and Malaysia and a nine-week turnaround scheduled to begin in April at Neste’s Porvoo, Finland, refinery.

Routine turnarounds are also scheduled in South Korea and Cartagena, Spain. European Group III prices were rising, but the increases appear to have stalled. Costs for moving cargoes to Europe and the U.S. are expected to rise by up to 50% – $60/t-$85/t to deliver to Europe.

Prices for Group III oils with partial slates of finished lubricant approvals or without approvals are maintained while your columnist sorts out the contradictory reports from market sources. Values are assessed at €1,555/t-€1,595/t for 4 and 6 centiStoke grades and at €1,565/t-€1,600/t for 8 cSt, all on an FCA basis ex Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam or Northwestern Europe.

Rerefined 4 cSt is also unchanged 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 had risen but appear to have stabilized at €1,735/t-€1,770/t for 4 and 6 cSt and at €1,725/t-€1,755/t for 8 cSt, on an FCA basis ex hubs in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, Northwestern Europe and Spain.

Baltic and Black Seas

It would appear that no Russian export barrels are being routed through Latvian or Lithuanian ports, although it would be possible to ship under bond through these ports should cargoes be destined for non-European Union or non-G7 receivers. Russian base oils are currently permitted to transit Lithuania enroute to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, where cargoes are loaded from Svetly terminal on behalf of Lukoil. Other Russian ports – such as Vyborg in the Gulf of Finland and Saint Petersburg – are utilized to export base oils to regions such as Nigeria, as a recent movement has attested.

Baltic ports, such as Riga and Liepaja, have turned storage around to facilitate the import of EU or other allied sourced base oils for blending operations in Latvia and Lithuania.

Apparently there is more Polish material available from Gdansk refinery but bid prices from traders have been deemed to low to sell the available quantity. It is not known how Lotos and PK Orlen will proceed with this potential cargo, since in times past they have placed the available quantities back into the domestic markets in Poland and Germany.

Some of the quantity available may be able to be placed into Lithuania or Latvia, where material from Gdansk has previously been delivered.

Current Russian 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, using SN 1200 and SN 500 to blend to the correct viscosity.

Turkish base oil markets were re-invigorated with the import 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 that were impossible to countenance prior to the Livorno barrels.

Greek sellers from Aghio have offered a cargo of 4,000 to 5,000 tons of two Group I grades, SN 150 and SN 600 for delivery to Derince. This cargo has the potential to succeed, where previous efforts from Greek sellers have been declined due to prices being deemed too high. Comparisons are always drawn between Mediterranean imports and Russian barrels that are imported at rock bottom price levels.

The Russian base oil imports are conducted on a government to government basis. Russian sellers such as Lukoil and Litasco are sponsored and encouraged by the Kremlin to maximize 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.

However, it was reported last week that a fire broke out at Volgograd refinery, which may affect base oil production from that unit. It was reported that no damage had been found, although Russian reports always err on the side of optimism.

Russian imports of SN 150 and SN 500 are mainly coming out of Kaliningrad, which will help to keep this terminal open. Few other cargoes are being loaded from Svetly. The ongoing investigation into how Russian cargoes would be treated or perceived by Houthi rebels is no further forward in finding how shipping would be arranged guaranteeing safe passage through the Bab-al-Mandeb Strait in the Red Sea. Receivers in Hamriyah were contacted to ask the question, but no information has been received. Russian cargoes had been arriving into the U.A.E. prior to the Houthi attacks, but this report cannot confirm that cargoes have been sailing through the Red Sea in the last few weeks. 

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

Tupras at Izmir continue to post the same prices. It is thought now that these levels have not changed in 14 weeks. Prices are as follows: SN 150 at $794/t (Tl 24,519), SN 500 at $869/t (Tl 27,024) and bright stock at $1,077/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 continuing devaluation of the Turkish lira, dollar prices are lower.

Group II prices ex-tank are maintained, 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 the Red Sea, the United States, South Korea or Rotterdam.

Partly-approved Group III base oils on an FCA basis or on a truck-delivered basis have an extra charge of around €35/t for local deliveries that will apply. Tatneft 4 centiStoke grade remains at €1,465/t. Supplies that arrived from the U.A.E., Bahrain and 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

Contacting receivers in U.A.E., there are problems for Luberef in shipping large cargoes into ports such as Fujairah and Jebel Ali. Whether these problems are directly related to Red Sea attacks, or whether there are other operational difficulties at the moment is uncertain and cannot be confirmed from Luberef. There are possibilities that base oils may be trucked from Yanbu and Jeddah across Saudi Arabia, crossing the U.A.E. border at Abu Dhabi and proceeding to Sharjah to discharge into storage tanks in Hamriyah. The problem is going to be the scale of the exercise. Since trucks carry around 25 metric tons per trip, there would need to be many to carry quantities of 18,000 to 20,000 tons, which would normally be delivered by sea. This operation may be seen as a stop-gap program to get essential supplies into blending operations, allowing these to continue.

Base oils in larger 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 – is causing problems. Space on parcel chemical tankers was necessary to load smaller parcels of base oil for Egypt, Jordan and Sudan. These vessels will be unavailable due to 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 sources such as Luberef. Similarly, base oil offers from traders in the U.S. Gulf are few, with extra freight rates taking their toll on shipments that could have been made from that region. The problem is not physical but financial, with vessels having to divert around South Africa rather than take the direct route through the Mediterranean, Suez Canal and the Red Sea.

Supplies are interrupted and delayed and often cancelled due to a shortage of either vessels or containers shipments into the Middle East Gulf region. Additive suppliers are looking to associate producers in Asia who can supply into India and Middle East Gulf. There are 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 now 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. As mentioned above, sources in the U.A.E. suggested that base oils be trucked across Saudi Arabia, but the latest heard last week was that this may not be feasible due to the scale of the operation. Further details are being gathered this week.

Exports of finished lubricants that would normally come out of the Middle East Gulf are being held up, awaiting containers and also vessels. One source related to this report that normal schedules for vessels calling at container ports have been scrapped. New times and dates are being arranged for vessels to call at ports such as Fujairah and Jebel Ali, where container facilities are in place.

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. There are no reported cargoes presently due into Hamriyah, but it is rumored that a large parcel of up to 10,000 tons is being prepped for loading out of Limas terminal in Turkey for receivers in Hamriyah. This cargo will show whether safe passage can be arranged between ship owners and Houthi militia.

Group III suppliers Adnoc and Bapco successfully loaded cargoes for Mumbai anchorage and mainland China. There are cargoes to load for Europe and the U.S., and the latest information is being sought on the current progress of these cargoes.

Following Shell’s announcement that no tankers will transit the Red Sea, a vessel has loaded a large parcel out of Ras Laffan in Qatar. It is believed to have sailed for northwest Europe, taking the Cape route. Stasco cargoes loading material out of Sitra in Bahrain for Europe will also be affected. Alterations to voyages will push costs higher and may drive up prices of Group III base oils arriving into the European and U.S. markets. 

Netbacks for partly-approved base oils from Al Ruwais and Sitra are taken higher, due to higher selling prices in the European market. With a potential 50% rise in freight rates, suppliers of Group III base oils will have to pass on incremental costs to end users.

Netbacks are indicated at $1,510/t-$1,565/t, for the 4 cSt, 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 at around $1,525/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 going shorter but can still be sourced from various producers located in Europe, the U.S., Asia Pacific and the Red Sea. Supplies are now subject to supply interruptions and delays. Base oils can be sold 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 revision should delivery and operational costs start to rise.

Prices are maintained with levels 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 reconfirmed that a large cargo will load for Durban only. This cargo will be comprised of around 18,000 tons of various base oils and easy chemicals.  The three port cargo to Durban, Mombasa and Dar-es-Salaam may load in March. Suppliers are looking at options to load out of Singapore for Mombasa and Dar-es-Salaam.


The Fawley cargo for Conakry in Guinea, Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire and Tema in Ghana should commence discharging in the first port in the next few days. Five thousand tons of three grades will go into Tema, with the balance of the cargo – believed to be around 4,000 tons – split between the other receivers.

In Nigeria the cargo from Vyborg in the Baltic was confirmed. This parcel of around 6,000 tons has been sold to a single receiver, enabling payment and discharge to be simpler. The cargo was sold on the basis of payment 60 days following date of bill of lading on open credit. The cargo may be paid in dollars, since it would be difficult for the seller to have someone on the ground in Lagos to attend to a naira payment and subsequent dealings on the black market to exchange into dollars. 

The Nigerian market for base oils is being ruined for regular traders by a few suppliers who are dumping the prices, trying to buy their way into what they see as a viable and profitable market. A couple of regular traders have elected to take a back seat and not “play the game” at the moment due to the interminable difficulties in doing business in Nigeria.

CFR Apapa prices are given as indications, with numbers eroded due to the above. The prices are now 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.

Related Topics

Base Oil Reports    Base Stocks    Market Topics    Other