Weekly EMEA Base Oil Price Report


The conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza continue to grab the headlines, with Russia making advances into Ukraine territory and Israel seemingly intent on a full-scale ground invasion of the city of Rafah.

These events are taking their toll on economies across Europe and the Middle East, where tensions are running high over worries that hostilities between Iran and its proxies and Israel. All eyes are on the two regions, and energy prices are on a knife edge, poised for reactions to the conflicts. Natural gas prices rose over the past few days, and while crude oil levels have stalled the past week, forecasts are predicting higher numbers this summer should if fighting escalates in either area.

The oddity is that crude oil demand from Opec members has remained dull, although Russia is believed to have expanded supplies to both China and India.

Effects on base oil prices have been marginal so far, with only moderate increases being applied to API Group I and Group II grades. A number of factors are playing into those increases. In the Middle East Gulf region, Group II supply has become tighter due to shipping restrictions from a Red Sea source, those some of the slack is being taken up by suppliers from Asia-Pacific and the United States. In Europe, Group I has become a short market due to plant closures, fires and maintenance turnarounds.

Group III remains apart, experiencing sluggish demand across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, even as supply balloons perhaps due to Far Eastern markets opening up and pushing more Middle East Gulf production into the European and U.S. markets. Prices for shipments from east of Suez have risen, but Group III prices are still under pressure due to plentiful availability in Europe of grades with partial slates of finished lubricant approvals.

Crude oil prices remained almost static the past week, with dated deliveries of Brent hovering around $83 per barrel. Demand is subdued, and there is no indication that Saudi Arabia is considering relaxing its production cap.

India and China are accepting large quantities of Russian crude at low discounted prices.

Dated Brent was at $83.50/bbl Monday, for July front month settlement, and West Texas Intermediate was similarly little changed at $79.10/bbl, still for June front month.

Low-sulfur gasoil prices have also flatlined, trading Monday at $756 per metric ton, now for June front month, approximately $10 higher than last week. All of these prices were obtained from London ICE trading late May 13.


Group I production in Europe suffered another blow due to a fire at the Repsol refinery at Puertollano, Spain, which includes an 80,000 t/y base oil plant. Production at the company’s refinery in Cartagena, Spain, is unaffected.

A number of Grop l cargoes have arrived into mainland Europe from the Red Sea and the U.S. The European market is now short on Group I, and many blenders are switching to Group II base stocks, particularly on the light grades. It would seem that the time has finally arrived for the industry in Europe to go the way that the U.S. did, some years back, with its use of Group II.

If this trend continues to gather pace, there could be an about turn where Group I is again available for export, but such a scenario is some way off right now.

There are few export destinations that could accept Group I barrels from European sources since the cost of detouring around Africa’s southern tip has closed the arbitrage for material to move to India or the Middle East Gulf. West African markets such as Nigeria, are subject to very low prices contained in offers for Russian barrels. 

Group I markets around Europe remain tight due to a number of planned maintenance turnarounds and fires at refineries in northern France and Spain. Supply from ExxonMobil’s plant in Port-Jerome will not restart before June, and it is still unknown what damage has occurred at the Repsol facility.

Prices had increased by up to €75/t during the early part of May, and those have remained in place with no reports of discounting. Light neutrals remain exceptionally tight, with reports of blenders trying to locate distant sources to cover requirements going forward.

The sole Spanish supplier with availabilities only has solvent neutral 150 and bright stock for sale, and these grades are being allocated to existing buyers only. The seller has received many requests for supplies to be delivered into Italian buyers, who are finding difficulties covering requirements following the closure of Eni’s base oil plant in Livorno, Italy.

Any available product remaining there is being used in-house by Eni to blend its own finished lubricants. The company plans to continue making lubes, procuring Group I long term from another Italian producer.

There may be further pressure to move numbers upwards again, although this is being resisted by buyers who are commenting that levels are high enough and given that crude and feedstock costs have not followed risen.

Prices for Group I oils sold in Europe are unchanged at between €1,000 per ton and €1055/t for SN150, €1,025/t-€1,080/t for SN500 and €1,265/t-€1,325/t for bright stock.

The dollar exchange rate to the euro was flat the past week at $1.07970.

Group II prices have been pushed higher as almost all Group II suppliers joined a European producer of these grades, increasing prices €40-€50/t across all grades. Some larger buyers have been trying to approach U.S. sources to either take a small cargo in bulk or to move quantities of material in flexi-tanks from production sources rather than purchasing on an FCA basis from traders in Europe. This is a relatively new approach and may appeal to the larger blending operations based around Europe.

The Group II premium to diesel remains acceptable to refiners, incentivizing production of base oils rather than diverting feedstock to the distillate pool. Demand is rising for Group II base oils in Europe, and with the driving season starting to kick in, passenger car motor oil requirements are at the heart of the demand cycle.

Group II prices are unchanged from recently increased levels of €1,060/t-€1,095/t ($1,145/t-$1,190/t) for 100 neutral and 150N, €1,100/t-€1,145/t ($1,190/t-$1,235/t) for 220N and €1,210/t-€1,275/t ($1,300/t-$1,395/t) for 600N. These prices apply to a range of Group II oils from European, U.S. and Red Sea sources, all imported in bulk.

Group III prices have in some cases been heard lower than Group II numbers, although not in every case. Lower quality Group III material from Asia-Pacific sources is being offered at exceptionally low prices that cannot be matched by incumbent suppliers in the European markets.

This makes for a buyers’ market, with some threatening to change suppliers and all sellers have plentiful availabilities. Demand is lackluster, and some sellers express surprise why Group II demand is rising but Group III is not keeping pace.

Part of the answer may be that many blenders have been working with their additive suppliers to test new formulations using only Group II base oils instead of moving to Group III.

With the threat of losing business, sellers are offering discounts. Distributors are finding this to be the only tool for maintaining sales.

One trader continues to offer Group III from a producer in China, due to reach the United Kingdom in June in flexies carried in containers. Prices are offered at exceptionally low levels – reportedly around $1,050/t-$1,085/t for 4 and 6 centiStoke material, but it must be said that quality may be an issue, since the specification of the material is not on the same level as other Group III base oils.

The first delivery is delayed by the extra voyage time to detour around the Cape of Good Hope.

European prices for Group III oils with partial slates of approvals rose €20/t-€45/t from May 1, but discounts are often being applied which all but nullify the effects of the increase.

Prices reported here for partially approved Group IIIs are unchanged at €1,595/t-€1,635/t for 4 and 6 cSt and at €1,585/t-€1,605/t for 8 cSt, all on an FCA basis ex Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp or Northwestern Europe. The usual two suppliers are still offering lower numbers, with FCA offers heard at €1,325/t-€1385/t.

Prices for rerefined Group III are unchanged at €1,475/t-€1,525/t, on an FCA basis ex rerefinery in Germany.

Prices for fully approved Group III are unchanged at €1,785/t-€1,820/t for 4 and 6 cSt and at €1,825/t-€1,835/t for 8 cSt, all on an FCA basis ex hubs in Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp, Northwestern Europe and Spain.

Baltic and Black Seas

The Nigerian proposed cargo of Russian export barrels still remains a mystery, although talk in Lagos again rumored that this parcel will eventually be sold into receivers in Apapa. The cargo would most probably load out of either Vyborg or Saint Petersburg, since a cargo done in January this year loaded out of Vyborg with 6,000 tons of three Russian grades – SN 150, SN 500 and SN 900. No vessel was spotted during last week, with nothing seen during the first part of this week.

Russian cargoes can move from Baltic to the United Arab Emirates, India and Singapore, with safe passage granted through the Bab-al-Mandeb Strait by Houthi rebels. Some 40,000 tons of Russian base oils were imported into India during the first part of this year, an increase of 30,000 tons compared with a similar period during 2023. Most of this quantity is believed to have been loaded through Limas terminal in Turkey, using material from Volgograd and Perm refineries. With the closure of the Kaliningrad operation in Svetly, Baltic cargoes would have loaded from St Petersburg. It is not apparent how many cargoes were loaded from the Baltic.

Lotos and PK Orlen have no available Group I base oils for offers to load for locations such as the United Kingdom or Northwest Europe. From what can be gleaned from local news, all availabilities are channeled into local markets.

FOB prices for Russian SN 150 and SN 500 from St. Petersburg or Vyborg are maintained this week, following recent rises. Prices are still at extremely low levels, with numbers assessed at $690/t-$725/t for SN 150 and $700/t-$750/t for SN 500.

The Turkish base oil market remains dull and stagnant, with no reports of any European quality barrels making their way into the country. Further news is that inflation is falling, although with a high starting level, the new official number is 63%. High interest rates may be starting to control inflation, but there is talk of starting to lower these interest rates, which may start the rate climbing again. No one really knows how accurate reported inflation figures really are, and which goods and services are being most affected. Talking to sources in Turkey, it is said that food and other household items are moving higher in price all the time, while clothes and luxury items are available at reasonable cost.

No further information was received from sources regarding the processes by which the government-to-government scheme runs between Russia and Turkey, regarding the importation of petroleum products, including base oils. It is anticipated that dollars are used in payments for cargoes arriving into Turkish ports. That may suggest why the Central Bank does not encourage traders and buyers to open dollar letters of credit to purchase cargoes of base oils from third parties based in Europe.

Turkish base oil markets are almost totally reliant on Russian base oil imports, which are much lower in price and specification than Mediterranean-sourced products. Sellers such as Motor Oil Hellas and ExxonMobil do receive requests for offers, but delivered prices are way too high for Turkish buyers.

Local supplier Tupras at Izmir refinery issued new prices that are mostly taken higher, reflecting other Mediterranean levels. The interesting item is the SN 150, which was reduced in price, while all the other grades are increased. Spindle oil (Tl 32,966/t), SN 150 (Tl 27,669/t), SN 500 (Tl 29,434/t) and bright stock at Tl 39,142/t. Prices in Turkish lira are ex-rack plus a loading charge of Tl 5,150/t. There is little point in quoting these prices in U.S. dollars, since the exchange rate fluctuates daily, and no one purchases this material in foreign currency.

Group II ex-tank prices are unchanged following the recent rises, with levels at €1,265/t-€1,300/t for the three lower vis grades – 100N, 150N and 220N – and 600N at €1,425/t-€1,495/t.

Group II base oils may be sourced from the Red Sea, the United States, South Korea or Rotterdam, although supplies from South Korea may currently be restricted due to Red Sea problems.

Partly-approved Group III base oils, sold on an FCA basis – which include Russian Tatneft 4 centiStoke grade – are priced around €1,460/t. Supplies in-tank – which had been imported from the U.A.E., Bahrain and Asia-Pacific some time ago – remain in stock, with FCA prices maintained at €1,575/t-€1,620/t.

Fully-approved Group III grades from Cartagena refinery in Spain, delivered into Gemlik and resold by traders on an FCA basis to local blenders, have prices maintained at €1,960/t-€1,995/t FCA.

Middle East

Reports from U.A.E. receivers of Group I and Group II base oils sourced from Yanbu and Jeddah have remarked on the problems of Luberef getting hold of vessels to load and deliver base oil cargoes into Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah, Hamriyah and Jebel Ali. Cargo numbers have been vastly reduced, and one can only assume that deliveries going into the west coast of India are also being affected in the same way.

Vessel owners/operators have no protection and indemnity club insurance to cover hull and crew. Vessels are not entering the Red Sea, where Houthi strikes have targeted merchant ships not registered in China or Russia. Cargoes belonging to Russia or China will also not be targeted, with many parcels moving to Indi and the U.A.E. during the last few months. How this works remains unknown, since with no contacts in Yemen or Russia it has become very difficult to extract information on cargoes.

Northbound vessels, having sailed south through the Suez, can be used to load parcels, such as the Group I cargo for Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam.

Middle East Gulf regions are on high alert, with many watching the Iranian situation with Israel. The regions are constantly focused that Iran or one of its proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, will take action against Israel, escalating the situation in Gaza to a whole new level throughout the region.

In the Middle East Gulf there are supply and shipping problems to be solved, such as obtaining supplies of additives and base oils to maintain blending plants and keep a workforce employed. Another problem is finding containers and vessels to make deliveries to customers outside the region in areas such as East Africa, for example.  

It was reported that Iranian SN 500 was raised by around $10/t during the first part of May, but where any FOB sold cargoes are moving is not common knowledge. Iranian-flagged or other vessels prepared to lift Iranian base oils are not identifiable and may be sailing “under the radar” when delivering cargoes to the U.A.E. or the west coast of India.

Group I imports are being made from Thai Lube in Rayong in Thailand and also from Pertamina in Indonesia, where there is currently a 5,000-ton Group I tender that may find its way into one of the U.A.E. ports in due course.

Russian base oils are also being delivered into U.A.E. receivers, with price indications CFR around $775/t for SN 150 and $795/t for SN 500. A number of parcels of 5,000-8,000 tons loaded from Limas terminal in Turkey for receivers in Hamriyah and Ras al Khaimah. Vessels have no problems going through the Bab-al-Mandab Strait, because they are granted safe passage by the Houthi rebels.

An international trader made an offer for a base oil cargo to be delivered into Apapa in Nigeria, with Russian and U.A.E. base oils on board. The cargo would be imported into the U.A.E. in the normal way from Limas, then re-exported to Nigeria, accompanied by a U.A.E. certificate of origin. This practice could even use the same vessel, without the cargo leaving the ship’s tanks. U.A.E. prices could afford the freight costs to take the cargo to Nigeria, estimated to come to around $200/t, which could land the cargo at still competitive rates in Nigeria.

 Netbacks for Group III exports from the Middle East Gulf for partly-approved base oils from the U.A.E. and Bahrain are maintained at existing levels as per the last report. Distributors are suspected of negotiating lower FOB prices from producers to be able to cover part of the increased shipping costs, which are due to the deviation around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.

Netbacks are indicated at $1,425/t-$1,475/t for the 4 cSt, 6 cSt and 8 cSt partly-proved Group III grades.

Netbacks for gas-to-liquid Group III+ base oils from Ras Laffan in Qatar remain unchanged and are estimated at around $1,500/t-$1,560/t. The transportation of base oils from Ras Laffan is an internal company transaction with a property and casualty cost allocation process that will apply to these movements. The GTL base oils are used almost exclusively within Shell’s blending system.

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

Group II base oils selling ex-tank in the U.A.E., or on a truck delivered basis in the U.A.E. and Oman have prices maintained this week. Material is tight, although some supplies from Luberef have managed to get through to the U.A.E. Buyers are looking at alternative supply sources, such as South Korea or Singapore, to cover requirements. Selling levels are relatively high and remain unchanged at $1,685/t-$1,725/t for 100N, 150N and 220N, with 600N at $1,775/t-$1,825/t.

The high ends of the ranges refer to road tank wagon deliveries to buyers in the U.A.E. and Oman.


No further information is available from South African shipping agency sources in Durban, other than that they are awaiting the arrival of a large cargo which should be docking in the next couple of weeks, towards the end of May. The cargo will discharge the full cargo quantity in Durban. 

A further similar large cargo may be dispatched towards the end of June, and this parcel may include a quantity of three grades of Group I base oils, around 5,000 tons, for discharge in Mombasa. 

There is a lot of talk of Russian cargoes from the Baltic doing the rounds in Lagos, but with without any concrete evidence that a cargo exists and that a vessel has been chartered to take a quantity to Nigeria, it is impossible to speculate on quantities, arrival dates, etc.

Apparently, receivers are expecting 8,000-10,000 tons of Russian base oils to arrive “sometime in the next two months,” but nothing has been confirmed. Prices have been offered to receivers in Lagos, and it is thought that the cargo will load from either Vyborg or St. Petersburg in the Baltic. The trader will charter a vessel and deliver to receivers in Nigeria. The payment process is not known, but possibly at least part of the cargo could be paid in naira, which will have to be converted to dollars before payment can be completed. The trader will require representation on the ground in Lagos to oversee the transaction and the payment.

The naira exchange rate is unpredictable and is weakening all the time against the dollar. It is involving many millions of naira being exchanged into dollars on the black market, which takes time and effort. This process cannot be completed in one transaction and may take many days to finalize. Dollars may not be available, delaying payments for months.

CFR Apapa prices for future trades from the U.S. are indicated higher at around $1,055/t-$1,085/t for SN 150, $1,120/t-$1,145/t for SN 500 and SN 900 at around $1,175/t-$1,190/t. Prices reflect higher FOB levels and increasing freight and finance costs. Russian cargoes from either the Baltic, or from the U.A.E. may show prices up to $100/t lower than the indications above.

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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