U.S. Base Oil Price Report


The base oil market is quiet, with some chatter centering on inventory ramifications of two nearly three-week turnarounds at API Group II plants – a full one at Excel Paralubes Westlake, La. site and a single train at Motivas Port Arthur, Texas location.

According to sources, Excel Paralubes plans a 17 to 20 day turnaround starting in mid- February at its 22,200 barrels per day API Group II Westlake plant. ConocoPhillips and Flint Hills resources are 50-50 owners and market the Group II base oils from the Excel Paralubes refinery in Lake Charles, La.

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Meanwhile, sources say, Motiva is in the midst of what is expected to be a 20-day turnaround for a 10,000 barrels per day Group II lube train at its Port Arthur plant. The plants total capacity is 40,300 b/d.

Industry contacts suggest that while the turnarounds should keep the Group II market relatively balanced, it could prove a missed opportunity to build in inventory for the typically busy U.S. market in March. Some suggest that the larger Westlake shutdown is on the mind of Group II buyers because they do not want to have empty tanks when supply tightens.

Observers noted that some customers likely went through much of November and all of December running inventories down and waiting for further price discounts. Some found orders picked up last week as pricing pressure on the down side seemed to have ceased.

According to industry sources, purchasing agents from overseas have become active once again, perhaps indicating that the export market might be improving.

Industry observers confirmed that Neste Oil Europe declared force majeure in mid-December, impacting two straight cut oils sold only in Europe, due to hydrocracker issues at Nestes Poorvo, Finland base oil plant, which has 4,670 b/d Group III capacity. No real market impact is expected because the Neste-Bapco joint ventures 7,700 b/d Group III plant in Bahrain is up and running.

At the close of the Tuesday, Jan. 10, CME/Nymex session, front month light sweet crude oil futures ended the day at $102.24 per barrel, down 72 cents/bbl from last weeks settlement at $102.96.

Brent crude was trading at $112.48/bbl at the end of the day yesterday, up 26 cents/bbl from its week-ago level at $112.22. LLS (Light Louisiana Sweet) crude was trading at a premium of about $10.50/bbl to WTI on Tuesday.

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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