U.S. Base Oil Price Report


Phillips 66 increased prices for its API Group II+ and III base oils, almost bringing to completion a round of hikes that spanned the past three weeks.

On March 24, Phillips 66 communicated that it was raising its Group II+ S2 and S3 grades, and its Group III S4 and S8 oils by 15 cents per gallon, two weeks after the producer had increased postings on its Group II oils.

A majority of paraffinic base oil producers sought price hikes for their Group I, II, II+ and III oils, with implementation dates spanning March 9 to March 24. Motiva and SK did not revise postings during this time frame.

Suppliers reiterated that demand for most paraffinic cuts had been quite healthy throughout the month, and that the increases had not discouraged orders because buyers had been well aware of market conditions and the recent jump in crude pricing.

There has not been any price revisions mentioned on the naphthenics side of the business, although producers continue to keep a watchful eye on crude values. Sources said that higher crude prices have placed pressure on a few spot sales, but so far no contract prices have been revised.

A number of pale oil suppliers agreed that requirements had been steadily improving, and supply appeared to be well-balanced against demand.

A producer said that buying appetite had been particularly strong from Europe, adding that “there is more interest than we have experienced in a long time,” which led to some conjectures about possible production problems at a European naphthenics facility.

In the U.S., San Joaquin Refining has been striving to build inventories following a turnaround at its plant last month, but the producer said it was unable to do so because it was selling all the product it was manufacturing. San Joaquin completed a turnaround at its Bakersfield, California, refinery in early February.

Also in the realm of naphthenic oils, Nynas announced that it was launching a high viscosity naphthenic base oil for the lubricant and grease industry. According to a Nynas press release, its new Base Oil T550 will provide formulators with a high viscosity grade that can offer an alternative to bright stock.

This may be good news to many bright stock consumers that have been concerned about a potential global shortage given recent and upcoming Group I plant closures. Even though a number of producers such as Ergon and Luberef plan to bring more bright stock into the market this year, the new capacity will not offset the bright stock sources that have exited the market in the past decade, or are scheduled to this year, market observers noted.

Nynas also explained that the T550 can be mixed with paraffinic oil to increase viscosity and improve additive solubility due to its high solvency, adding that the company would make its new base oil available on a global scale in the third quarter of this year.

Upstream, West Texas Intermediate futures slipped on Tuesday on growing concerns that a two-month rally may be fading on rising global supply. Oil prices have climbed more than 45 percent since mid February ahead of a meeting next month of the world’s major producers to discuss an output freeze, but there is growing skepticism that members would be able to come to an agreement, Reuters reported.

WTI settled on the CME/Nymex at $38.28 per barrel on March 29, down $3.17 per bbl from its March 22 settlement of $41.45 per bbl.

Light Louisiana Sweet wholesale spot prices closed at $39.94 per bbl on March 28, compared with $42.31 per bbl on March 21, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Brent was trading at $39.14 per bbl on the CME on March 29, down $2.65 per bbl from $41.79 per 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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