U.S. Base Oil Price Report


Cross Oil and Calumet communicated naphthenic base oil price increases, following Ergon’s initiative the previous week.

Cross Oil raised prices on April 11 and Calumet will be implementing increases on April 19, but both producers called for increases of 15 cents per gallon for the lighter grades up to 750 Saybolt Universal Seconds (SUS) and 20 cents/gal for the heavier grades.

Along similar lines, Ergon had lifted pricing of its naphthenic oils by 15 to 20 cents/gal last week, with the heavier cuts moving up by the greater amount as of April 6.

The price movements were driven by firmer crude oil prices and a tightening supply/demand ratio. A couple of pale oil producers were heard to be sold out of several grades in April and expected snug availability in coming weeks.

Likewise, paraffinic base oil producers had adjusted prices up in March, supported by comparable fundamentals, although some participants said that while demand had shown an improvement with the start of spring, requirements had not been as brisk as in years past – perhaps due to a general supply glut and uncertainties in downstream lubricant segments.

It is a very mixed market right now, both on the domestic side and globally, a market participant noted.

According to sources, API Group II suppliers appear to have little product to offer for export, but there has also been talk about downward price pressure on domestic spot indications given adequate availability of the lighter grades.

Sources also said that there was steady buying interest for U.S. Group I base oils in Mexico, adding that very competitive offers for bright stock were on the table.

Even while welcoming the opportunity to improve prices, some players said they had been rather hesitant about participating in the rounds of increases, because they did not want to lift values now, and then have to lower them again if crude oil numbers suddenly plummeted.

However, crude oil prices were on an upward trend for most of the week, closing at 2016 highs on Tuesday following reports that top producers Russia and Saudi Arabia had agreed to an output freeze ahead of a producers meeting on Sunday.

West Texas Intermediate settled on the CME/Nymex at $42.17 per barrel on April 12, up $6.28 per bbl from its April 5 settlement of $35.89 per bbl.

Light Louisiana Sweet wholesale spot prices closed at $42.24 per bbl on April 11, compared with $36.05 per bbl on April 4, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Brent was trading at $44.69 per bbl on the CME on April 12, up $6.82 per bbl from $37.87 per bbl a week earlier.

In base oil production, Ergon’s Newell, West Virginia, refinery will be going down for a very short window for work to be performed on a fuels generation unit. The process will not impact base oil production and the producer does not anticipate any problems in meeting requirements, a company source said. The unit can produce 1,900 barrels per day of Group I oils and 2,900 b/d of Group II cuts, according to LubesnGreases Global Guide to Base Oil Refining.

In other industry news, a fire broke out at the ExxonMobil refinery in Baytown, Texas, on April 7, but was quickly extinguished. The Baytown complex houses the nation’s second-largest refinery and a sprawling petrochemical plant, including an API Group I and II base oil plant and a polyalphaolefins (PAO) facility. The unit has capacity to produce 9,800 barrels per day of Group I and approximately 18,700 b/d of Group II base oils.

The refinery blaze started in a hydrotreating unit that processes diesel, according to local media. An ExxonMobil spokesperson said that there had been no impact to base oil or PAO production.

ExxonMobil is in the process of phasing out Group I production at its Beaumont, Texas facility, with output expected to cease permanently during the second quarter.

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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