Asia Base Oil Price Report


Base oil trading grounded to a halt in many countries in Asia, with most buyers opting to reassess the market after the Lunar New Year holiday.

Before the start of the festivities, buying interest had been subdued because consumers had been worried about the possibility of acquiring base stocks that would be available at a lower price in a matter of days. Most buyers had opted for keeping lean inventories until after the holiday, particularly keeping an eye on crude oil prices.

At the same time, many producers adjusted February offers down in order to stimulate demand and manage stock levels more efficiently, but only a limited number of deals were concluded before the festive period began.

In Taiwan, it was heard that Formosa Petrochemical had revised its domestic list prices for February shipments of API Group II base oils.

According to reports, the producer’s 70 neutral and 150N list prices edged down Taiwan New Dollars (TWD) 0.16 per liter. The 500N oil was reduced by a slightly higher amount of TWD 0.50/liter. Formosa’s list prices had also been adjusted down in January on falling crude oil prices, currency fluctuations, and lackluster market conditions.

Similarly, in India, there was talk that local producers had moved domestic Group I list prices down as of Feb. 1. The reductions will be applied to February shipments, and include cuts that range from Indian Rupees 1.80 per liter to Rs 2.40/liter for solvent neutral 70, SN150 and SN500, with the heavy-vis cut reflecting the higher reductions.

At the same time, it was heard that Indian refiners have hiked the list price of bright stock by Rs 0.60/liter as this grade is perceived to be tight.

In terms of base oil spot prices, Asia assessments were largely unchanged this week because a few deals fell within the reported ranges, and discussions for fresh cargoes remained thin.

Within the Group I category, SN150 was holding at $540 per metric ton-$570/t ex-tank Singapore, SN500 was heard at $610/t-$630/t and bright stock at $990/t-$1,010/t.

Group II 150N was assessed at $510/t-$530/t ex-tank Singapore, while the 500N was steady at $660/t-$680/t ex-tank Singapore.

On an FOB Asia basis, Group I SN150 was assessed at $420/t-$450/t, while SN500 was heard at $430/t-$460/t FOB. Bright stock prices were unchanged at $890/t-$910/t FOB.

In the Group II category, prices for 150N were holding at $420/t-$450/t FOB Asia, and 500N at $510/t-$530/t FOB Asia.

No fluctuations were noted for the Group III grades, with 4 centiStoke and 6 cSt oils assessed at $850/t-$880/t FOB Asia, and the 8 cSt grade at $600/t-$620/t FOB Asia, following a slight downward adjustment the previous week.

Upstream, crude oil prices had been on a downward trend, but jumped 8 percent during the week, after investors took advantage of a weaker U.S. dollar and downplayed data showing an unexpectedly large build-up in U.S. crude inventories.

Prices were also boosted by reports that Russia would be willing to discuss production cuts if there was consensus among OPEC and non-OPEC members.

ICE Brent Singapore futures were trading at $34.46 per barrel in afternoon sessions on Feb. 8, compared to $35.22 per bbl on Feb. 1.

Shipping activity was also less vibrant due to the regional holiday, although a few inquiries to move product after the festive period emerged. There were still three Contracts of Affreightment (COA) quoted as well.

In South Korea, a 1,500-metric ton cargo of two base oil grades was discussed for Yeosu to Taichung, Taiwan, for Feb. 11-15 lifting. A second 1,500-ton lot was also heard for Yeosu to Merak, Indonesia, for Feb. 20-29 shipment.

A 2,000-ton lot was being discussed for Onsan to Zhenjiang, China, for prompt dates. A 600-ton parcel was on the table for Onsan to Yingkou, China, forFeb. 10-14 lifting.

A 500-ton cargo was expected to be shipped from Ulsan to Taichung, Taiwan, between Feb. 16-20. A 2,000-ton lot was also being worked on for Ulsan to Hong Kong for Feb. 10-14 lifting, requiring a Ship Inspection Report (SIRE).

In Japan, a 2,000-ton cargo was likely to move from Yokkaichi to Tianjin, China, between Feb. 27 and Mar. 2. A second 2,000-ton lot was mentioned for Mizushima to Singapore or Merak for Feb. 16-20 shipment.

Three COAs were still on the table as well: one for approximately 2,000 tons to cover Yeosu to Merak, Indonesia; a second 2,000 tons for Yeosu to Tanjung Priok, Indonesia, and a third for about 1,000 tons for Yeosu to Vietnam.

Gabriela Wheeler can be reached directly at

Lubes’n’Greases Publications shall not be liable for commercial decisions based on the contents of this report.

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