EMEA Base Oil Price Report


Base oil markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa continue to feel impacts of armed conflicts, but the effects vary from region to region.

The Middle East is exposed on all fronts to the fighting between Israel and Hamas along with various other attacks being launched by Hamas and retaliations for those attacks. Europe is encountering supply chain disruptions from Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and is also still feeling effects of the war in Ukraine. The Red Sea situation is disrupting delivery of goods and services to East and Southern Africa due to a lack of shipping containers.

Base oil business in the Middle East region are doing their best in the face of transportation delays, whilst finished lubricants that have been blended in Middle East Gulf locations are unable to move to usual markets in Africa and Europe.

There are many reports of shipping problems affecting the loading of cargoes of API Group I and Group II base stocks coming from Red Sea sources such as Yanbu and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and additionally suppliers are trying to avoid shipping through the Red Sea and Suez, causing interminable delays and breakdowns in the supply chain.

Group III cargoes, replenishing stocks in Europe and the U.S., are being affected most by the dearth of suitable vessels either prepared to make the Bab-al Mandeb transit or alternatively to sail around the Cape of Good Hope, piling on voyage times and costs for charterers. Many are looking for Chinese flagged vessels to move cargoes, since these vessels appear to have safe passage from the Houthi rebels, possibly at the best of their alleged masters, the Iranian government, which has close ties with Beijing.

One interesting fact to emerge the past week is that Russian flagged vessels or independent vessels carrying identifiable Russian cargoes will receive safe passage through the Red Sea, which may aid the supplies of Russian base oils into receivers in the United Arab Emirates and Singapore.

Base oil prices have not yet been affected by the cost increases for various inputs or the disruptions to supply – possibly because demand is poor. Normally spring heralds an uptick in lubricant demand in the northern hemisphere, but consumption remains subdued this year in the automotive, industrial and process oil sectors.

There are some positive sentiments in some parts of the market, but improved demand ultimately depends on economies starting the grow, which is not happening in the major nations. European countries such as Germany, France and Spain are showing few signs of an economic recovery, and the the United Kingdom officially entered recession at the end of 2023. Political struggles are ongoing in parts of Africa, and it is not necessary to mention the Middle East again. Inflation remains higher than preferred, and interest rates are not falling as analysts predicted in the latter part of 2023.

All in all, it may be some time before the markets see vibrant and buoyant activity again, with each part of the economic cycle being dependent on another.

Crude oil costs are staying up in spite of weak demand  from major players such as China. The Middle East conflict of course weighs heavily on crude markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Dated deliveries of Brent crude hovered at $83.35 per barrel, on par with last week, this price being for April front month settlement. West Texas Intermediate was also little changed, coming in at $78.50/bbl, for March front month.

Low-sulfur gas oil climbed above the $900 mark but fell back to $857 per metric ton, now for March front month. All of these prices were obtained from London ICE trading late Feb 19.


Prices for Group I exports from Europe remain lower than producers would wish as a few very low prices have spooked a number of suppliers into withdrawing offers made to traders. Cargoes have been offered from multiple suppliers, including PKN Orlen’s Gdansk, Poland, refinery, where barrels are available. Exact quantities are not confirmed but this may become clearer later this week, following the Argus conference in London. Greek suppliers continue to offer material for Turkey and Israel.

Prices for European Group I exports are unchanged 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. For all of these ranges, the low end is set by the “special” rates from Eni’s refinery in Livorno, Italy.

Prices for Group I trade within Europe continue to face downward pressure after most suppliers rolled January levels into February. Buyers are commenting that values should be lower in light of weak demand and plentiful availabilities. Sellers had been pointing to rising diesel prices, arguing that they needed to maintain the base oil premium to them, but diesel retreated last week.

Buyers continue to shift from term contracts in light of weak finished lube demand. Spot buying is the name of the game presently.

Prices 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 was level the past week, coming in at $1.07638. The price average differential between Group I exports from Europe and sales within the region is at €155/t-€245/t, exports being lower.

European Group II prices were stable but face downward pressure because of weak demand and low Group I numbers, which are catching the eyes of Group II buyers. Availabilities remain positive, with imports from the United States taking up any potential slack from the maintenance turnaround about to commence at ExxonMobil’s refinery in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Even against the import levy of 3.7%, U.S. imports are competitive and remain the primary challenge to European production.

Imports that were proposed from Asia-Pacific sources have been subdued by weaker market dynamics in Europe and, of course, the Red Sea transit problems, which inhibit traders taking positions on Asian products. The Group II premium to diesel remains an issue with diesel numbers falling in the first instance then recovering in line with strengthening crude numbers.

One supplier aggressively trying to establish market share in Europe is offering Group II grades at low levels: 1,010/t-€1,055/t for 100 neutral, 110N and 150N, €1,055/t-€1,095/t for 220N and €1,145/t-€1,200/t for 600N.

Overall Group II values are realigned for the remainder of February at €1,010/t-€1,195/t ($1,080/t-$1,275/t) for 100N, 110N, 150N and 220N and at €1,145/t-€1,300/t ($1,225/t-$1,390/t) for 600N. There are higher prices quoted around the market, but these are believed to be subject to discounts and rebates that effectively take them lower.

The overall prices apply to a range of Group II oils from European, U.S. and Red Sea sources, all imported in bulk. In the European Group II market, 100N and 150N grades are sometimes priced higher than 220N due to demand.

The jury is still out on how the Red Sea situation will affect European Group III prices. Availabilities remain positive, but this scenario this could change.

Prices for Group III grades with partial slates of finished lubricant approvals or without approvals are unchanged 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 or Northwestern Europe. Rerefined 4 cSt is unchanged at €1,485/t-€1,520/t, on an FCA basis ex rerefinery in Germany.

Fully approved Group IIIs are at €1,735/t-€1,770/t for 4 and 6 cSt and at €1,725/t-€1,755/t for 8 cSt, all on an FCA basis ex hubs in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, Northwestern Europe and Spain.

Baltic and Black Seas

Few Russian export barrels are leaving the Baltic.

Polish material is becoming available from Gdansk refinery, but bid prices from traders are not in the ballpark, required from suppliers to offer these barrels.

Current Russian FOB prices for SN 150 and SN 500 from the Baltic are indicated at low levels around $620/t for SN 150, with SN 500 around $635/t. Blended SN 900 is available at around $675/t, using SN 1200 and SN 500 to blend to the correct viscosity. These levels are assessed on the basis of landed prices in various locations such as Singapore and Turkey, and FOB prices have not been available to third parties to lift cargoes from Kaliningrad.

Turkish base oil markets are moving back into life but have some way to go to return to the pre-Ukrainian invasion days.

Russian base oil imports are conducted on a government-to- government basis, which means that the Turkish market is awash with these products.

Russian imports of SN 150 and SN 500 coming out of Kaliningrad maintain a health flow of material into the Turkish market. Russian cargoes would be treated as being given safe passage by Houthi rebels through the Bab-al-Mandeb Strait in the Red Sea. Therefore, it is conceivable that as the Volga loses the ice, Russian cargoes through Limas terminal could supply receivers in the United Arab Emirates. One offer is already on the table for consideration from Lukoil/Litasco

Imported Russian Group I base oil prices remain indicated on a CIF basis for SN 150 at around €785/t, with SN 500 around €795/t.

Tupras prices are as follows ex Izmir refinery: 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. 

Group II ex-tank prices are maintained at 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, where an extra charge of around €35/t for local deliveries will apply. Tatneft 4 centiStoke grade fell to around €1,420/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 to €1,920/t-€1,965/t FCA.

Middle East

Contacting receivers in the U.A.E., shipping problems exist for Luberef in shipping large cargoes into ports such as Fujairah and Jebel Ali. These problems are directly related to Red Sea attacks. There is real potential for base oils to be trucked from Yanbu and Jeddah across Saudi Arabia, crossing into the U.A.E. border, proceeding to Dubai to discharge into storage tanks in Hamriyah.

Base oils in larger quantities can only be transported by sea. Receivers in the west coast of India and the U.A.E. are reliant on receiving large cargoes of Group I and Group II base stocks on a regular basis. Space on parcel chemical tankers is 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 in South Africa.

From news gathered this week, all sailings are being rerouted around the Cape. With Stasco having loaded a cargo in the last 10 days from Sitra, it is estimated that this voyage will take around an extra three weeks to reach Rotterdam.

Russian base oils’ delivered prices into the U.A.E. are indicated at around $795/t for SN 150, with $820/t for quantities of SN 500, with a large parcel of up to 10,000 tons loaded out of Limas terminal in Turkey for receivers in Hamriyah.

Group III suppliers Adnoc and Bapco have loaded cargoes for Mumbai anchorage and mainland China. The main concern for U.A.E.-produced Group I barrels is that foreign imports from South Korea are running the local markets, with prices for 4 cSt material believed to be around $950 FCA Hamriyah.

Netbacks for partly-approved base oils from Al Ruwais and Sitra are maintained, in the light of competitive numbers keeping selling prices in check.

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 remain at around $1,525/t-$1,575/t.

Netback levels are established from distributors’ selling prices, less estimated marketing, margins, handling and freight costs.

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 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 comprise of around 18,000 tons of various base oils and easy chemicals. Suppliers are looking at a Singapore option for Mombasa and Dar-es-Salaam.

According to sources, Nigeria becomes worse by the day, with another U.S. Gulf cargo on the water arriving in March.

The Nigerian base oil market is subject to crazy offers from parties that have no backup in trying to supply the actual quantities.

CFR Apapa prices as indications only are 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.

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