U.S. Base Oil Price Report


News that Motiva would decrease postings on Dec. 1 awakened the U.S. base oil market from a somnolent week flanked by the Thanksgiving holiday.

Motiva lowered its API Group II STAR 4 (110 vis) and STAR 6 (220 vis) grades 10 cents per gallon, and trimmed the price of its STAR 12 cut (600 vis) by 13 cents/gal.

Buyers welcomed the downward adjustment, but a few participants questioned the need for another decrease, given that paraffinic posted prices had already been revised down in late October, and there did not seem to be any room for further adjustments.

According to sources, Motiva was moving prices to keep the postings more aligned with true market conditions. Suppliers have effectively been selling product at much lower prices than their posted values, given the need to draw down inventories before the end of the year, sources explained.

However, other participants said that prices seemed to have stabilized in the last couple of weeks, with one player commenting that there does not seem to be as many year-end deals going on, which could be a sign that refiners had been able to move out inventory early.

Some players also expressed surprise at the heftier price cut on the heavy-viscosity grade, as this product has been in short supply for the past several months.

However, there was talk that the heavier grades, both in the Group I and II categories, had become slightly more available given a seasonal decline in demand, both in the U.S. and other regions.

Lower feedstock costs also helped weigh base oil prices down, sources added.

Crude oil prices slipped on Tuesday on the back of growing concerns about the potential for global oversupply, particularly as OPEC is meeting later this week and there is speculation that production levels will not be adjusted.

There are also expectations that oil prices could continue to fall if the U.S. Federal Reserve raises interest rates this month, which would boost the dollar further and could potentially push oil prices down to as low as $35 a barrel, Reuters reported.

West Texas Intermediate closed on the CME/Nymex at $41.85 per barrel on Dec. 1, down $1.02 per bbl from its Nov. 24 settlement of $42.87.

Brent was trading around $44.44/bbl on the CME on Dec. 1, down $1.68/bbl from $46.12/bbl a week earlier.

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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