U.S. Base Oil Price Report


Although the summer holiday season is in full swing, the U.S. base oils market isnt snoozing. Paraffinic and naphthenic prices remain firm alongside still-healthy demand.

In the works for months, the Holly-Frontier Oil merger was completed last Friday, July 1. With total refining capacity in excess of 440,000 barrels per day across five refineries, the newly formed HollyFrontier Corp., headquartered in Dallas, is one of the largest independent refiners in the U.S. The merger will have no major impact on the companys base oils operations, according to sources, but the base oil division with its 9,500 b/d API Group I plant in Tulsa, Okla., has adopted the new name, HollyFrontier.

Sources have learned that a turnaround at the Motiva Port Arthur, Texas, 40,300 b/d Group II base oil plant has been extended. Sources said the scheduled maintenance that commenced in late May on one of three trains was expected to last about five weeks and restart about a week ago, but there has been a delay. Details were not clear as to the cause for the extension.

Motiva is also maintaining its sales allocation. Star 4 (110 vis) will be restricted to 80 percent of historical volumes, while a 50 percent sales allocation applies to Star 6 (220 vis) and a limit of 110 percent applies to Star 5+.

Over the past few weeks, there have been subtle signs indicating that producers may be gaining some ground in the ability to build up inventory positions. A slight drop off in demand has made it possible for a number of producers to see a marginal improvement in availabilities.

However, suppliers from both the paraffinic and naphthenic sectors warn customers that stocks are a long way from being flush or abundant. Therefore there is a concerted effort by suppliers to keep a close eye on sales. Pure spot activity is deemed negligible, a few traders lamented.

Meanwhile, crude oil futures appear to be aiming again for the $100 per barrel mark, some analysts project. After dipping into the low $90s/bbl in recent weeks, futures have made a steady climb, regaining about $6/bbl.

At the close of the Tuesday, July 5, NYMEX session, light sweet crude futures ended the day at $96.89 per barrel, an even gain of $4 compared to the settlement a week earlier at $92.89/bbl.

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

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