U.S. Base Oil Price Report


It was a rather hushed week in terms of activity in the U.S. base oils market. Despite the somewhat quiet backdrop, sources say that business continues to improve weekly. Most suppliers also expect the spring buying season to be buoyant and that customers off-take will certainly surpass the previous year’s volumes.

There were no further posted price changes to the below charts this week. Some sources are a bit baffled that no other API Group II producers have followed the lead of Phillips 66 or Flint Hills Resources, which both increased several postings by 25 cents per gallon earlier this month. A few other sources were anticipating some price news out of the Group I sector, but so far that was also mute regarding prices.

On a slightly different note, it was understood that several rerefiners stepped out and boosted their Group II prices by an amount similar to the virgin base oil posting increases issued by Phillips 66 and Flint Hills Resources – that is, up 25 cents/gal.

Meanwhile, the United States is glowing with good economic news. Recent reports have indicated that consumer confidence has soared past economists expectations in February. Housing sales are on the move in all major regions, also outstripping earlier predictions. New jobs are being filled, particularly in the manufacturing and technology sectors.

Crude oil futures have taken a dip the past week or two,sinking to a seven-week low as of Tuesday. Analysts blame weaker WTI prices on an over-supply situation. Whether this scenario will turn around soon is not clear at this point. There remain some oil experts who believe that WTI, as well as Brent, will soon reverse their downward trend and head back to higher ground.

In spite of lower crude costs, base oil producers are still dealing with high operating costs. Vacuum gas oil premiums for low sulfur VGO have stretched to more than $40 per barrel over WTI. Medium and high sulfur VGO lag behind by a few dollars, but the differentials – in the mid to high $30s/bbl over WTI – are still considered steep.

At the close of the Tuesday, Feb. 26, CME/Nymex session, front month light sweet crude oil futures ended the day at $92.63 per barrel, down $4.03/bbl from last weeks settlement at $96.66.

Brent Crude was trading at $112.66/bbl at the end of the day yesterday, shedding $4.69/bbl from its week-ago level of $117.35.

LLS (Light Louisiana Sweet) crude was trading at a premium of $20.555/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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