U.S. Base Oil Price Report


A late summer shower of price decreases greeted base oil consumers this week, with Phillips 66, ExxonMobil, Safety-Kleen, Calumet, Paulsboro, Chevron, and HollyFrontier joining two producers that spearheaded the movement earlier this month.

Late last week, Phillips 66 announced that it would decrease the posted prices of several API Group II base oils on Aug. 14. The 70 neutral and 80N cuts were lowered 18 cents/gal; its 110N oil marked down 15 cents/gal; and its 225N reduced 10 cents/gal. The posting of its 600N grade was not revised.

Sources reported that ExxonMobil was to have lowered the price of both its Group I light-viscosity grades and its Group II+ oils 10 cents/gal, effective Aug. 17. There were no adjustments mentioned for the producers 600-vis product or bright stock.

Similarly, Paulsboro Refining will be lowering the posted price of its light-vis cuts by 10 cents/gal Aug. 20, while no changes were implemented on heavy grades or bright stock.

HollyFrontier also stepped forward with a price decrease which became effective Aug. 18. The companys Group I solvent neutral 70 through SN150 grades were clipped by 15 cents/gal, and its SN250 cut by 10 cents/gal. Prices for SN525 and bright stock did not change.

Within the Group II category, Calumet trimmed its paraffinic oils 10 cents/gal, effective Aug. 18. It did not adjust its Group I SN600 cut, nor its bright stock.

Safety-Kleen also communicated decreases of 10 cents/gal for its Group II+ 120N and 240N oils, which will go into effect Aug. 19.

Shortly after these announcements, Chevron stated that postings for its Group II 100N cut would be adjusted down 40 cents/gal to $2.25 cents/gal, and its 220N grade 30 cents/gal to $2.50/gal, also effective Aug. 19. There will be no adjustments for its high-vis grade.

Earlier this month, Motiva had led the wave of decreases by reducing postings of its 110N and 220N cuts 10 cents per gallon on Aug. 7, leaving the price of its 600N oil intact.

Flint Hills Resources dropped the price of its 70/75N 18 cents/gal, its 100N cut 20 cents/gal, and its 230N oil 13 cents/gal on Aug. 10, with no changes affecting its 600N.

Last week also saw decreases of up to 20 cents/gal for naphthenic base oils, depending on the grade and the producer.

The price reductions were prompted by a drop in crude oil and feedstock prices, and the prospects of slowing demand as the summer draws to an end. Base oil producers were hoping that lower prices would attract buyers, but one supplier conceded that consumers were likely to try and lower their higher priced inventories before they buy again.

Suppliers also cited concern about the tight conditions of the heavy-viscosity grades, both in the Group I and II categories, with some buyers inquiring about additional supplies. However, sellers said there was limited or no extra availability, and that this supported the current pricing structure of heavy-vis oils.

News that ExxonMobil will close its Group I base oils plant in Beaumont, Texas, in the second quarter of 2016 (see related story in this week’s Lube Report) caused consternation among Group I buyers. Some suggested that the closing would only make only a small dent in the oversupply of the overall market, but they predicted that the biggest impact would be on domestic availability of bright stock and wax.

At the same time, buyers said that ExxonMobil had assured customers that their Group I needs would be met through shipments from the producers two other U.S. facilities.

Upstream, West Texas Intermediate futures dropped more than 3 percent this week, falling to the lowest levels since March 2009 on concerns of a growing global supply glut. WTI settled on the CME/Nymex at $42.62 per barrel on Aug. 18, down $3.12 per barrel from its Aug. 11 closing of $45.74.

Brent crude was trading around $48.81 per barrel on the CME on Aug. 11, down $1.68 from $50.49 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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