U.S. Base Oil Price Report


Please note: An updated version of the U.S. Base Oil Report for May 8, 2019, now includes last-minute news of an increase by Petro-Canada.

SK Lubricants Americas and Petro-Canada rounded off the latest string of posted price adjustments with increases for their API Group II+ and III base oils, while on the naphthenic side, San Joaquin Refining joined other pale oil producers, communicating a hike as well.

SK raised its Group II+ and III base oil posted prices by 25 cents per gallon across the board, effective May 6, but did not increase its Group II bright stock as this grade had already been adjusted up on May 1.

Along similar lines, Petro-Canada announced a 25-cent/gal increase for its Group II+ 65N cut and for all of its Group III grades, with an effective date of May 9. The producer had previously raised the price of its Group II+ 100N cut on April 18 and will not be adjusting it at this time.

A second supplier of Group II+/III base oils, Phillips 66, had lifted its posted prices by 25 cents/gal the previous week as well, setting an effective date of May 1.

On the naphthenic front, San Joaquin notified customers that the refiner intended to increase prices for all grades by 20 cents/gal as of May 9. This initiative comes on the heels of similar movements by Cross Oil, Ergon and Calumet.

Cross Oil lifted its pale oils by 12 and 15 cents/gal, depending on viscosity, on April 22, while Ergon and Calumet marked up their naphthenic products by 20 cents on May 3 and May 7, respectively.

While a majority of paraffinic and naphthenic producers had been watching crude oil prices with an anxious eye as numbers climbed steadily over the last two months, an easing of crude and feedstock values provided some relief, as some of the pressure may have abated for now, a source noted.

However, another matter that was causing some concern among suppliers and consumers was barge transportation, which has been affected by high water levels on various rivers in the United States. Sources explained that barges were being delayed and tank car racks were full.

Many suppliers appeared busier than normal as they tried to schedule shipments on trucks, following the recent fire at the Intercontinental Terminal Co. in Deer Park, Texas. The fire, which started on March 17, burned for three days and engulfed 11 storage tanks containing a variety of petrochemicals, including base oils. The blaze also caused a chemical spill into the Houston Ship Channel, resulting in a partial closure of the waterway which lasted until April 2, and disrupting vessel movements.

Shipments to Mexico were proceeding as usual, and while one supplier said that the pace of orders for U.S. products had slowed down slightly due to the recent price increases, another seller said that requirements from Mexican buyers remained strong, particularly for Group I cuts. Bright stock availabilities were said to be fairly snug in the U.S. due to steady buying interest.

A Group I export shipment was also heard to have been concluded from the U.S. Gulf to Nigeria.

Appetite for Group I from Europe may diminish in coming weeks as most plants there were heard to be back on line, following seasonal turnarounds, while the start-up of the ExxonMobil Group II plant in Rotterdam was also anticipated to place a damper on Group II requirements from the U.S.

Upstream, crude oil futures continued on a downward trend, but the drops stalled on Tuesday on the back of increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran, and the threat of disruptions to supplies in the Middle East. This helped offset ongoing concerns that the prolonged trade dispute between the U.S. and China would result in reduced crude oil demand. The Trump administration seemed set on announcing new tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods on Friday.

On May 7, West Texas Intermediate April futures settled at $61.40 per barrel on the CME/Nymex, down $2.51/bbl from $63.91/bbl on April 30.

Brent futures for July delivery closed at $69.88/bbl on the CME on May 7, and had settled at $72.80/bbl on April 30 for June futures.

Light Louisiana Sweet crude wholesale spot prices settled at $70/bbl on May 6, compared to $70.69/bbl on April 26, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Low sulfur vacuum gas oil was at June WTI plus $17.00/bbl ($79.25/bbl) and high sulfur VGO was at crude plus $16.25/bbl ($78.50/bbl) on May 6. By comparison, low sulfur VGO was hovering at $78.75/bbl and high sulfur VGO at $79.00/bbl on April 29, according to data published by OPIS 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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