U.S. Base Oil Price Report


San Joaquin Refining lowered naphthenic base oil prices by 10 cents per gallon on Sept. 9, likely culminating a round of U.S. pale oil decreases initiated by Ergon on Aug. 29.

Ergon also adjusted prices down by 10 cents/gal, as did Cross Oil on Sept. 3 and Calumet on Sept. 5.

The adjustments were partly attributed to the recent slide in crude oil and feedstock prices, but it is not completely unusual to see base stock price revisions at this time of the year, sources underscored.

Demand on the naphthenic side of the business has been fairly steady over the last three months, and suppliers entertained hopes that September would show an uptick in requirements spurred by the price decreases.

A similar scenario was observed on the paraffinic front, where requirements have been described as consistent with predicted levels for September.

An API Group I supplier said that orders had picked up slightly following the price decreases, but had reverted to pre-decrease levels shortly after.

Blenders are taking a wait-and-see position as they expect prices of crude oil to continue falling along with gasoline values, and are wary of keeping high-priced base stock inventories in case numbers drop again.

Traders are also heard to be checking the market to obtain the best quotes, and some are trying to put together larger cargoes to lower freight costs and make pricing work, a source explained.

Within the Group II segment, the main factor affecting the supply and demand balance is the abundance of product resulting from the introduction of the new Chevron capacity at Pascagoula, Miss. This has led to fairly competitive price activity on the spot market, sources said, together with the recent downward adjustment of posted prices.

The expanded Group II availability in the U.S. has also resulted in softer pricing into export markets such as India, where U.S. producers have to compete with regional suppliers of product, particularly following the start-up of the 13,000 barrels per day Hyundai Oilbank-Shell Group II plant in Daesan, South Korea, in late July/early August.

Some interest in US cargoes of Group I product has been noted in Mexico, but buyers are also hesitant to accept current prices as they are concerned about potential price reductions in the near future.

A deep-sea cargo was also heard to have made its way to Brownsville recently, but further details were not forthcoming.

Upstream, West Texas Intermediate crude futures rebounded from a seven-month low on speculation that an Energy Information Administration (EIA) report released on Sept. 10 may show that U.S. crude stockpiles have shrunk for a fourth week.

WTI settled on the CME/Nymex at $92.75 per barrel on Sept. 9, down 13 cents/bbl from a settlement at $92.88/bbl on Sept. 2.

Brent crude was trading around $99.16 per barrel on the CME, down $1.18/bbl from $100.34/bbl a week ago.

The WTI discount to Brent narrowed after news emerged that Tallgrass Energy Partners LP may delay the start of the operation of the Pony Express pipeline from Wyoming to Cushing, Okla., to November from an original date in August. Tallgrass is converting the line to move crude to Cushing from the Bakken production areas of North Dakota and eastern Montana, according to a Bloomberg report.

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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