Weekly EMEA Base Oil Price Report


Base oils have bucked the general pricing trends for petroleum products in recent weeks, with rates for API Group I and II oils showing considerable strength.

As a result, it has become more attractive for refiners to make these products in higher quantities, rather than devote feedstocks to fuel lines. The problem is that demand has not reached levels that would normally be expected for this time of year.

The extraordinary and significant events taking place in Gaza and Ukraine do not appear to be affecting energy prices. Crude oil has been remarkably stable the past few weeks, and so have values for the range of petroleum products, including gasoline and distillates.

The odd one out is the base oil sector, where values for Group I and now Group II grades which have increased – both in raw terms and related to other products. But while this motivates refiners to sell more base oils, demand has been sluggish, with only odd pockets of positive signs appearing as summer approaches.

Seasonally lubricant markets should be booming ahead of northern hemisphere peaks in driving, agricultural activity and tourism, while the southern hemisphere experiences harvest season. In addition, falling inflation should spur capital investment in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. And yet, finished lubricant demand continues to lag behind pre-pandemic levels.

With the approach of the hurricane season in the Americas, the wet season in sub-Saharan Africa and the monsoon Southeast Asia, perhaps would-be investors are waiting for clearer signals that economies are growing again.

Group I and Group II premiums to diesel have returned to levels that producers consider acceptable, while the Group III segment struggels with a combination of poor demand and a global oversupply. With availabilities in the main markets showing positive, buyers are able to pick and choose when and where they can purchase, holding sellers to ransom in some cases to maintain lower price levels.

Crude oil prices have dipped slightly from one week ago, but the change is small with dated deliveries of Brent crude only cents below last weeks level. Russia continues to export large quantities of crude to India and China at ever lower prices, to help finance the war in Ukraine.

Dated deliveries of Brent crude came in Monday at $82.90 per barrel, for July front month settlement, while West Texas Intermediate crude lost a dollar over the week to $78.50/bbl, now for July front month.

Low-sulfur gasoil prices slid around $10 to $750 per metric ton, for June front month, still at an unusually low premium to crude. All of these prices were obtained from London ICE trading late May 27.


With the disappearance of an export market for Group I oils produced in Europe, the emphasis has shifted to imports. A number of traders have taken material from the United States, and Red Sea sources supplied one cargo and could send more.

One former favorite destination for European exports is currently a no-go region for Group I cargoes as low-price offers from Russian traders are holding down the market.

Shutdowns for maintenance have begun or loom at multiple refineries with Group I plants. A shutdown at Mol’s refinery in Szozhalombatta, Hungary, was to have lasted a month, but the company said last week that the site will close for six months.

This will severely limit the Group I base oil market in that region, with few options for other suppliers to cover requirements. Some sources mused that the company may be considering changing crude source, since it is currently exempted from the European Union ban on Russian crude and is served by the Urals pipeline. It is not easy to work out how or where an alternative source for crude could be found, although it may be possible to bring supplies by rail.

European markets for Group I remain tight, though imported cargoes have made the situation easier than a month ago. Prices have risen steadily through May, but upward pressure seems to be easing. Light neutrals and bright stock are short, with reports of buyers trying to source from distant places such as the Red Sea.

But this supply point will be kept within the Saudi Aramco family of affiliates, and product will not be sold on FOB or CIF bases to third parties. Traders are taking material into Europe and reselling to buyers who would be unable to handle larger parcels of Group I base oils.

There is talk of a Group I cargo coming into the United Kingdom from a trader who will load the parcel out of El Dekheila port in Egypt, and will sail a vessel with around 5,000 tons of two grades on board. The material will have been of Russian origin but will have been discharged into tank in Egypt and will now have a certificate of origin declaring the product to be Egyptian.

A Spanish producer will have availability of solvent neutral 500 going into June, since no availability of this grade has been seen during May. Availability will be restricted to regular buyers since quantities will be limited. The other refinery producing base oils in Spain, at Puertollano, has suffered a fire at the installation and this will impact availability going forward.

Some higher prices were heard during last week, and therefore have been included in the ranges. Prices for Group I oils sold in Europe are now assessed between €1,060/t and €1,150/t for SN150, €1,075/t-€1,175/t for SN500 and €1,355/t-€1,425/t for bright stock. The dollar exchange rate to the euro flatlined, posting Monday at $1.0852.

Group II prices last increased during April, so the gap between Group I and II oils has since narrowed, creating some upward pressure on the latter category. Also, Group II prices in the U.S. have been rising.

Some European lube blenders have looked to acquire additional quantities of Group II. It is possible to find sources in Asia-Pacific, but transportation in flexi-tanks would take around 70 days, which may take the shine off this exercise. Bulk quantities could take up to 140 days to make the delivery. Demand is moving upwards for Group II base oils across Europe.

Group II prices are maintained this week at €1,075/t-€1,100/t ($1,170/t-$1,195/t) for 100 neutral and 150N, while 220N is at €1,125/t-€1,155/t ($1,220/t-$1,255/t) and 600N at €1,235/t-€1,290/t ($1,340/t-$1,400/t). These prices apply to a range of Group II oils from European, U.S. and Red Sea sources, all imported in bulk.

The Group III segment faces some clear upward pressure on prices – for example increased transportation costs. But demand is poor for many reasons, one being that some blenders have researched with additive suppliers to use Group II base oils in place of some Group III grades. The practice has taken some time and expense to deliver, the additive packs are more expensive, but overall considerable savings are available.

A trader has sold quantities of Chinese Group III base oils into the U.K. market, but it is unknown what quantities will be imported. It is understood that these base oils will be sold in flexies. The material will be arriving next month. The material has a lower specification, but prices are exceptionally low – reportedly $1,050/t-$1,085/t. Some buyers will be able to use these oils for particular blends that do not require high-spec blend stock.

Prices for Group III oils with partial slates of finished lubricant approvals or without approvals had risen, but discounting has occurred. Prices are unchanged this week at €1,595/t-€1,635/t for 4 and 6 centiStoke and at €1,585/t-€1,605/t for 8 cSt, all on an FCA basis ex Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam or Northwestern Europe. Two suppliers still offer lower numbers – €1,395/t-€1,425/t on an FCA basis.

Prices for rerefined 4 and 6 cSt oils are unchanged at €1,475/t-€1,525/t, on an FCA basis ex rerefinery in Germany.

Prices for fully-approved Group III grades 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 Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, Northwestern Europe and Spain. It is reported that sellers of fully-approved grades are selling less than previously, but maintaining higher prices with a premium over partly-approved grades. With another two suppliers expecting to gain full-approval status either next year or in 2026, it will be interesting to see whether they increase prices to take advantage of the approvals.

Baltic and Black Seas

The “phantom” Russian cargo for Nigeria remains just that, with no sign of any shipping or loading taking place. The material remains either in tank or refinery, and it has not been shipped. The cargo may load from Vyborg or St Petersburg, with a quantity presumed to be around 6,000-10,000 tons. Otherwise, it would be uneconomic to deliver.

Cargoes sailed from the Baltic to India and Singapore, with Russian barrels, having safe passage through the Bab-al-Mandeb Strait. Sixty-thousand tons of Russian base oils were imported into India this year, with some of this quantity believed to have been loaded through Limas terminal in Turkey, using material from Volgograd refinery. With the closure of Kaliningrad, Baltic cargoes may have loaded from Saint Petersburg. It is not known how many cargoes loaded out of the Baltic, but vessels regularly took large parcels out of the Baltic to receivers in Singapore, even following the European Union import ban on Russian base oils.

FOB prices for Russian SN 150 and SN 500 from St. Petersburg or Vyborg are maintained, although numbers are still believed to be at extremely low levels. Based on netbacks from offered prices into Nigeria, levels are assessed at $690/t-$720/t for SN 150 and at $725/t-$735/t for SN 500. SN 900 would be priced at around $785/t.

Lotos and PK Orlen still have no availabilities of Group I base oils for offers to load FOB Gdansk. Reports confirm that availabilities are being targeted at domestic markets, where prices are higher giving better margins.

Turkish base oil markets remain in limbo. Only Russian cargoes are discharging in the Turkish ports of Gebze and Aliaga, with each cargo being around 5,000 tons total, made up of SN 150 and SN 500.

Like the rest of Europe, inflation in Turkey is coming down. Having started from a very high point, it is still relatively high compared to other European countries, with the new official level at 55%. High interest rates of around 50% are in place and may be controlling inflation to an extent, but there is pressure from some government circles to reverse the high interest rate tactic and go for low interest, but this will be a disaster. Because of high interest borrowing, it is impossible, with little or no investment taking place, and with maintenance and repairs kept to a minimum to keep costs down. Several blenders have run-down equipment and facilities, trying to maintain finished lubricant production for the local and neighboring markets.

Tupras at Izmir refinery re-issued prices. Spindle Oil (Tl 33,475/t) SN 150 (Tl 28,351/t), SN 500 (Tl 30,258/t), and bright stock (Tl 41,129/t). Prices in Turkish lira are ex-rack plus a loading charge of Tl 5,150/t.

Group II ex-tank prices are higher from June 1, with levels moving to €1,290/t-€1,345/t for the three lower vis grades – 100N, 150N and 220N – and 600N now to move at €1,475/t-€1,525/t.

Group II base oils may be imported from the Red Sea, the United States, South Korea or Rotterdam sources, but cargoes and flexies from South Korea may be restricted due to Red Sea problems. The Petrofisi tender received offers from a number of suppliers, and it now remains to be seen if this exercise is real or not. The buy tender is for around 20,000 tons of Group II base oils supplied over a year, but this has happened before, with nothing coming of the tender at the end of the day.

Partly-approved Group III base oils, sold on an FCA basis – which include quantities of Russian Tatneft 4 centiStoke grade – are being priced at around €1,460/t. Supplies in-tank that had previously been imported from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Asia-Pacific have FCA prices pushed higher at €1,625/t-€1,670/t.

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

Middle East

U.A.E. regular receivers of Group I and Group II base oils sourced from Yanbu and Jeddah continue to report problems in getting deliveries on time, or if at all. Luberef continue to have problems finding ships to load large cargoes for the west coast of India, the U.A.E. and Pakistan. Also affected are cargoes that would have had moved to Singapore and Durban. Prior to the Houthi situation in the Red Sea, large cargoes were delivered into receivers in Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah, Hamriyah and Jebel Ali. There are reports, however, that seem to confirm Luberef deliveries to Mumbai anchorage, but how this is being accomplished is not known.

It could be that the Saudis have chartered vessels under the Chinese flag to carry cargoes. Vessels flagged by Russia or China will not be targeted. This may be the only method to have loaded parcels moving to India and the U.A.E. during the last few months.

Vessels sailing northwards through Suez – having made the southbound transit – can be chartered to load parcels of base oils, such as the S-Oil Group I cargo moved to northwest Europe. With S-Oil being partly owned by Saudi Aramco, they have preference when loading Group I and Group II cargoes for European markets.

Once again events have stoked worries that the war in Gaza could widen into a bigger conflict. Israel drew widespread condemnation after a strike on Hamas officials killed at least 35 civilians at a camp created as a safe zone for displaced residents. In addition, Iran’s government said it blames Western governments, particularly the United States, for a helicopter crash that killed its president and foreign minister.

The Houthi rebels in the Red Sea continue to affect container and tanker traffic, with most vessels now making the detour voyage around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the Bab-al Mandeb Strait in the southern Red Sea. This adverse behavior is limiting shipping going into and out of Middle East Gulf ports. Obtaining supplies of additives and base oils can be difficult if supplies are coming from the West. Shipping Group III cargoes from Bahrain, Qatar and Al Ruwais is also harder since not so many vessels are around in the Gulf, and those available are expensive to charter given the extra voyage time and the logistics of crew, bunkers and victualling.

Reports contain news that Iranian producer Sepahan has new prices for SN 500, these raised by a further $50/t. Iranian-flagged or other vessels prepared to load Iranian base oils are not identifiable when delivering cargoes to the U.A.E. or the west coast of India.

Group I imports continue to arrive in Hamriyah and Ras al Khaimah from Rayong and Indonesia, where a 5,000-tons Group I sale tender was withdrawn because prices bid were considered too low for acceptance.

Russian base oils continue to be delivered into U.A.E. receivers, with price indications CFR around $785/t for SN 150 and $800/t for SN 500. A number of parcels of 5,000-8,000 tons loaded from Limas terminal in Turkey for receivers in Hamriyah. Vessels are granted safe passage by the Houthis in Yemen.

Netbacks pertaining to 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. Distributors presumably negotiated lower FOB prices from producers, which would compensate for increased shipping costs due to the deviation around the Cape, avoiding Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.

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

Netbacks for Shell gas-to-liquid Group III+ base oils from Ras Laffan in Qatar also remain unchanged, being estimated at around $1,500/t-$1,560t. Cost allocation aspects of these cargoes are not disclosed by Shell.

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

Group II base oils sold ex-tank in the U.A.E., or on a truck-delivered basis in the U.A.E. and Oman, have prices maintained. Some buyers are looking at alternative supply sources in South Korea or Singapore, to make up for a lack of cargoes coming out of Yanbu and Jeddah. Selling levels remain unchanged and are put 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.


It is believed that the large cargo destined for Durban possibly docked during last week or may be due this week. South African shipping agency sources in Durban were not available to give feedback on this movement.

A further large cargo may be dispatched from Rotterdam and Fawley in June. This parcel could perhaps include a quantity of three grades of Group I base oils – around 5,000 tons – for discharge in Mombasa. More information may be available on this shipment last this week.

Sources in Lagos have said that Russian prices are setting the market, and also that these prices are effectively keeping regular traders away from selling base oils to receivers in Lagos. The price levels are keeping supplies from other sources such as the U.S. out of the market due to higher buying prices that cannot be discounted to get to the Russian levels.

Nigeria has huge problems right now, with no dollars available. Local banks cannot apply to the Central Bank for foreign currency because none is available.  The naira exchange rate is up at over 1,580 to the dollar. That would mean naira payments being assembled and then taken to the black market to obtain dollars with delays and hassle trying to account for the full value of any cargo.

There is talk of a cargo to be loaded out of an Egyptian port – El Dekheila – where at least part of the cargo was to cover part of an

Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. tender, which was won by a European trader. The cargo is undoubtedly of Russian origin but has been delayed by around a month so far. The cargo will have to have SN 900 on board, and this may be a problem in getting a heavier viscosity Russian grade, such as SN 1200, to be able to blend the SN 900.

Talk of the Russian cargo from the Baltic is still in the market, but there is no firm evidence to show that a cargo exists, and that shipping is planned. No vessel has been chartered, so it is impossible to speculate on quantities, arrival dates etc etc.

One trader is investigating U.S. sources for a cargo. Without getting suitable payment terms, and having to grant extended payment times, there is real risk in supplying base oil cargoes into Apapa at this time because there are no payment guarantees which can be put into place. Having payment responsibility in receivers’ hands is certainly not an ideal situation to be in in this part of the world.

CFR Apapa prices for possible future trades – for example, from the U.S. – are indicated at around $1,095/t-$1,125/t for SN 150, $1,160/t-$1,175/t for SN 500 and SN 900 at around $1,195/t-$1,235/t. Price ideas are being beaten down by Russian offers, which are much lower. Levels are indicated at $930/t for SN 150, $970/t for SN 500, with SN 900 at $1,020/t. These levels cannot be matched by any other sourced product.

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