U.S. Base Oil Price Report

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Most naphthenic base oils are in tight supply as a carry-over of weather-related output problems during the first quarter, coupled with brief shutdowns at Calumets and San Joaquins plants and the recent extended turnaround at Cross Oils facility.

Cross Oils plant in Smackover, Ark., remained off-line for around 60 days, starting in February, because the producer needed to carry out repairs after the plant suffered unexpected production issues, and also to complete a routine maintenance program.

The tight supply and demand scenario, together with firm crude oil and feedstock vacuum gas oil (VGO) costs, had prompted pale oil producers to implement price increases in early March.

On the paraffinic side, generally steady conditions were reported, with business having slowed down slightly this week on account of the Easter holiday. Demand had been fairly healthy the previous week, sources said, and helped support the price increase initiatives put into effect between March 5 and April 8.

A number of paraffinic grades are also on the snug side, particularly the API Group I heavy-viscosity cuts, with minimal spot availability reported, following a pick-up in demand, together with Paulsboro Refinings 11,000 barrels per day Group I plant turnaround in late March/early April.

Despite the fact that the producer had padded inventories to fulfill requirements during the shutdown, it was heard that the supplier was in no position to offer spot volumes. Other producers also commented that they had no product to sell to the many traders who had inquired about heavy-viscosity grades.

A second paraffinic base oils turnaround could tighten supply even further. Calumet will be taking its Shreveport, La., base oil plant off-line from April 28 until May 14. The unit has the capacity to produce 4,800 b/d of Group I base oil and 7,000 b/d of Group II cuts. It was heard that the producer is entering the turnaround with very limited inventory and customers are likely to face delays on deliveries.

Upstream, West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell from their highest closing numbers in seven weeks on speculation that U.S. crude stockpiles had increased significantly.

WTI settled on the CME/Nymex at $102.13 per barrel on April 22, down $1.62 from a settlement at $103.75/bbl on April 15.

Brent crude was trading around $109.27 per barrel on the CME, up 53 cents from $108.74/bbl a week ago.

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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