U.S. Base Oil Price Report


The base oil market is maintaining a degree of stability, but most players are still on guard regarding possible changes in supply and demand conditions, as well as pricing.

The sharp fluctuations seen on the crude oil front in recent months are keeping participants on edge, and everyone is watching current trends very carefully, as sudden swings could bring about swift changes on the fuels and base oils side of the business.

For the time being, both buyers and sellers are enjoying steady conditions, although producers insist that margins have thinned and that the advance of crude prices following recent lows placed pressure on base stock values.

API Group I producers revised their heavy-viscosity postings in the first two weeks of May, but these changes have not been accompanied by other price adjustments this week. Demand for the heavy-vis cuts continues to be described as healthy, although buyers are under the impression that these grades are not as tight as a month ago and that buying interest is starting to wane with the approach of summer.

Nevertheless, sellers insist that orders are strong and discounts have been removed for spot transactions of most oils. Buying appetite for bright stock continues to be particularly robust, according to sources. Several base oil cargoes have been shipped from the United States to various destinations in Latin America, Europe, and India over the past couple months.

According to one source, “export opportunities have stayed consistently good for the past few weeks,” with a couple suppliers not being able to participate in export opportunities as they do not have extra availability beyond that required to meet domestic demand.

Similarly, inventories are said to be balanced to tight on the naphthenics side, with prices also holding steady and producers keeping an eye on crude oil price movements.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures declined during the week on reports that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are producing more oil than the world is expected to consume.

WTI settled on the CME/Nymex at $57.26 per barrel on May 19, down by $3.49 per barrel from a settlement at $60.75 per barrel on May 12.

Brent crude was trading around $64.02 per barrel on the CME on May 12, down $2.84 per barrel from $66.86 per barrel a week ago.

In automotive news, Takata is nearly doubling the size of its already massive recall for faulty airbags, making it the largest auto recall in history, according to a CNN Money report.

Takata has already recalled airbags used in about 18 million vehicles, and this move will lift that number to about 34 million cars. That number represents almost one out of every seven cars in the U.S. today. The faulty airbags have caused serious injuries and five fatalities. Most of the recalled cars were made by Honda, but other makers have been affected as well.

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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