U.S. Base Oil Price Report


Calumets increase on its API Group I bright stock will become effective this week, while other base oil posted prices are unchanged on steady demand and adequate to ample supply for most cuts.

Calumets 10-cent price hike, which was communicated to customers last week and will be implemented on April 1, came on the heels of similar bright stock adjustments by ExxonMobil, HollyFrontier, and Paulsboro Refining.

Postings in the other categories were mostly stable, following upward adjustments by Chevron on its Group II oils and ExxonMobil on its Group II+ cuts in the first half of March.

Base oil activity was somewhat muted given the absence of players during spring break and the Easter holiday, combined with the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers International Petrochemical Conference taking place in San Antonio, Texas, early in the week.

However, both suppliers and consumers agreed that business was proceeding as expected during the spring season, with demand anticipated to thrive in coming weeks.

The heavy-vis cuts, which were described as tight, continue to see healthy requirements –

especially for bright stock and Group II 600 neutral cut – with spot availability drying up and prices rising as a result, according to sources.

In the case of the 600N cut, there were reports that the tightening had been exacerbated by lower operating rates at a Group II facility, but there was no producer confirmation forthcoming about possible production cutbacks.

Sources said that the price of Group II 600N was strengthening to the point that it would soon be steeper than that of Group I SN600, which is what traditionally happens when the market is balanced to tight.

Both cuts had been hovering at very similar levels during the first quarter due to ample supply of the Group II cuts, and the jury was still out on assessments for the week.

The latest spot indications for both the Group I and Group II 600 cuts were close to $2.45 to $2.55/gal, but sources noted that availability is snug.

On the naphthenic front, San Joaquin Refining expects to be fully caught up with shipments of all products by the second week of April, following a three-week turnaround last February. Inventory for its 750 and 2000 cuts is especially tight, the supplier said. San Joaquins base oil unit, located in Bakersfield, Calif., can manufacture 8,100 barrels per day of naphthenic base oils.

Sources also commented that pale oil demand has been gradually improving and April was expected to be a good month in terms of order volumes, helping stave off downward price pressure.

It was also heard that exports in flexi bags were brisk, but buyers looking for larger cargoes were still cautious given price uncertainty.

A few parcels of paraffinic oils were also said to be on the way to Mexico, with business having been concluded in the second half of March. The Mexican finished lubricants segment is picking up the pace and more buying interest for U.S. base oils is anticipated to emerge in coming weeks.

Upstream, West Texas Intermediate futures dipped as Iran and world powers were in the midst of negotiations for an agreement on Irans nuclear program that may result in the countrys increase of crude exports in an already oversupplied global market.

However, prices were still slightly higher week on week, with WTI futures settling on the CME/Nymex at $47.60 per barrel on Mar. 31, up 9 cents per barrel from a settlement at $47.51 per barrel on Mar. 24.

Brent crude was trading around $55.11 per barrel on the CME on March 31, matching the closing price of $55.11 per barrel 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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