Asia Base Oil Price Report


Local holidays brought base oil activity to a halt in some parts of Asia, while uncertainty over prices, weak demand and weather left trading subdued in other areas.

In China, market participants were largely absent this week leading up to the National Day Golden Week holidays Oct. 1-7. During this time, many manufacturers suspend operations because employees often return to their home towns. Base oil discussions were anticipated to restart following the holiday.

In Taiwan, National Day is celebrated on Oct. 10, while in South Korea, Oct. 3 marks National Foundation Day. There were also several religious holidays observed during the week in Indonesia and Malaysia.

In India, buying interest has been weak because of monsoons that have affected logistics and transportation of raw materials, but as the monsoon season is coming to an end, demand is expected to pick up. Still, sources said it will take a couple of weeks for participants to consume existing inventories and that will likely to start securing fresh volumes afterwards.

Price indications in India have remained fairly flat as a result of the lackluster conditions, with API Group I solvent neutral 150 heard to be hovering at U.S. $560 to $580 per metric ton, CFR India, and SN500 grade $600/t-630/t, CFR India. Bright stock was also steady at $840/t-$860/t, but few cargoes were heard to have changed hands over the week.

Indian buyers were also watching the import market, as there have been fewer cargoes of Group II base oils arriving from the United States in recent months, and an extended turnaround at a Chevron facility in the U.S. would cause the market there will tighten, leaving fewer cargoes available for export.

The Chevron refinery in Richmond, California, which houses a 1 million ton per year Group II plant, is expected to undergo a two-month turnaround, starting in October, according to sources. The producer has placed its base oils on allocation, and heavy-viscosity grades in particular were heard to have tightened considerably in the U.S.

At the same time, there were limited offers of Group II oils from Northeast Asia, with bids and offers heard to be steady from the previous week. Group II 150 neutral cut was discussed at around $530/t-550/t, CFR India, while the 500N was near $720/t-740/t, CFR India, remaining in line with published prices widely regarded as benchmarks.

Buyers and sellers active in Asia preferred to adopt a wait-and-see position this week before proceeding with October spot negotiations, uncertain whether prices would change direction in coming weeks. Crude oil prices remain volatile, although there have been no sharp fluctuations recently, with prices hovering in the $40s per barrel. The crude oil fluctuations observed of late did not provide enough justification for base oil producers to move prices up or down.

Given the absence of a large number of players in Asia and the lackluster conditions, spot base oil prices were assessed stable to soft this week. On an ex-tank Singapore basis, Group I SN150 cut was steady at $585/t-$605/t, while SN500 was assessed at $665/t-$695/t. Bright stock was unchanged at $930/t-$950/t.

Group II 150 neutral was holding at $585/t-$605/t, and 500N was also steady at $765/t-$785/t, ex-tank Singapore.

On an FOB Asia basis, Group I SN150 was assessed at $470/t-$490/t. SN500 was hovering at $580/t-$600/t, while bright stock was steady at $780/t-$800/t, although some offers were heard near $820/t. In the Group II category, 150N was adjusted down by $30/t to $500/t-$520/t on ample availability, while 500N and 600N was down by $20/t at $650/t-$670/t, again all FOB Asia.

Within the Group III tier, 4 centiStoke and 6 cSt oils were also revised down by $10/t to $790/t-$820/t, FOB Asia. Eight cSt was holding at $640/t-$660/t.

Meanwhile, on the crude oil front, futures rose slightly as focus shifted to a potential output-curbing deal from OPEC in November, following indications that there would not be an agreement at the late September energy meeting in Algiers.

A much higher-than-anticipated drawdown in U.S. crude inventories also helped push crude prices up, although gains were capped because of an offsetting rise in gasoline stocks.

ICE Brent Singapore November futures were trading at U.S. $50.67/bbl in early sessions on Oct. 3, compared to $46.78/bbl on Sept. 27.

Gabriela Wheeler can be reached directly at

LNG Publishing shall not be liable for commercial decisions based on the contents of this report.

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