U.S. Base Oil Price Report


Avista Oil and SK joined the group of base oil producers who adjusted down posted prices on the back of lower raw material values and lengthening supply.

Avista lowered its API Group II cut by 20 cents per gallon on Nov. 26 – mirroring similar adjustments implemented by other suppliers between Nov. 13 and Nov. 27 – but the price of its Group III cut remained unchanged.

SK communicated that it would be decreasing all of its API Group II+ and Group III prices by 20 cents per gallon, while its Group II bright stock will move down 25 cents/gal as of Dec. 1.

With a couple of exceptions, a majority of paraffinic base oil producers revised their postings in an effort to attract business and clear inventories at a time when demand typically declines and supply lengthens.

Most suppliers trimmed posted prices by 25 cents per gallon, but Excel Paralubes reduced its Group II light-viscosity base oils by 24 cents/gal, its mid-vis oil by 25 cents/gal, and its heavy-vis cut by 26 cents/gal.

There were no price changes reported on the naphthenic side, with suppliers noting that supply/demand conditions were supporting current pricing.

Some shifting was taking place at a number of refineries as well, where a number of producers had cut back base oil plant operating rates when crude oil prices had peaked in early October, and had increased fuel output instead. However, it appears that some units are now gradually increasing run rates for base stock production.

In terms of base oil spot prices, numbers have softened on the back of revised posted prices and ample supply. While buying appetite from export markets was still evident, levels have fallen compared to earlier in the year, and buyers prefer to delay purchases as long as possible in hopes of achieving lower numbers.

Whenever possible, buyers were also expected to supplement volumes with spot cargoes, rather than increase contract shipments, as term prices continued to show a significant premium versus spot values.

Many market participants were expected to attend the ICIS Pan-American Base Oil and Lubricants Conference in Jersey City, New Jersey, on Nov. 28-30, where discussions would include topics such as changing supply and demand patterns, additional global capacity coming on stream, and the shifting of base stock and lubricant usage and its impact on the supply chain.

Heated base oil negotiations were also anticipated to take place in the next few days, with buyers expected to be looking for “year-end bargains” and suppliers trying to hold on to current price levels, while at the same time remaining well aware of the need to protect market positions.

Upstream, crude oil prices have lost almost a third of their value since early October, weighed down by a growing supply overhang, CNBC.com reported.

Oil futures dipped 7 cents on Tuesday – a more moderate drop than those seen in previous sessions – as the market steadied ahead of the OPEC and the Group of 20 nations (G20) meetings. Prices were partly supported by expectations that oil exporters would agree to cut output at an OPEC meeting in Vienna on Dec. 6.

Leaders of the G20, the world’s biggest economies, meet in Buenos Aires on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, with the trade dispute between the United States and China expected to be at the top of the agenda. Discussions about oil production were also anticipated to take place as representatives of the U.S., Russia and Saudi Arabia will be attending the meeting.

On Tuesday, Nov. 27, West Texas Intermediate December futures settled at $51.56 per barrel on the CME/Nymex, down $1.87/bbl from $53.43/bbl on Nov. 20.

Brent futures closed at $60.21/bbl on the CME Tuesday afternoon, and had settled at $62.53/bbl on Nov. 20.

Light Louisiana Sweet crude wholesale spot prices settled at $58.96/bbl on Nov. 26, compared to $65.54/bbl on Nov. 19, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Low sulfur vacuum gas oil was at Jan. WTI plus $15/bbl ($66.63/bbl) and high sulfur VGO at crude plus $14.25/bbl ($65.88/bbl) on Nov. 26. By comparison, low sulfur VGO was hovering at $72.51/bbl and high sulfur VGO at $71.51/bbl on Nov. 19, according to data published by PetroChemWire.

Historic U.S. posted base oil prices and WTI and Brent crude spot prices are available for purchase inExcel format.

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