U.S. Base Oil Price Report


Motiva surprised many market participants with a price decrease this week. Flint Hills Resources, Phillips 66, ExxonMobil and Paulsboro followed soon after, revising postings on the back of sliding crude oil values and lackluster fundamentals.

Motiva decreased its API Group II STAR 4 cut (110 vis) 10 cents per gallon, its STAR 6 (220 vis) 15 cents/gal and its STAR 12 (600 vis) 15 cents/gal, effective Jan. 18.

Flint Hills Resources advised that is was lowering Group II posted prices on Jan. 19. The producer’s 70/75HC grade dropped 12 cents/gal, its 100HC cut fell 11 cents/gal, its 230HC oil decreased 15 cents/gal, and its 600HC cut slipped 16 cents/gal.

Phillips 66’s markdowns go into effect today. The producer will reduce prices on its 70 and 80 vis cuts by 13 cents/gal, its 100/120 vis and 200/220 vis oils by 10 cents/gal, and its 600 vis grade by 15 cents/gal.

In the Group I category, sources said ExxonMobil will be moving down its light-vis cut by 10 cents/gal, its mid- and high-vis grades by 15 cents/gal, and its bright stock by 12 cents/gal as of Jan. 22.

It was also heard that ExxonMobil would be marking down its Group II EHC 65 by 15 cents/gal and its Group II+ EHC 45 cut by 10 cents/gal.

Paulsboro will be reducing its Group I base oil postings, but not until Jan. 27, with its light-vis grade dropping 10 cents/gal, its high-vis cuts 15 cents/gal, and its bright stock 12 cents/gal. Paulsboro’s decreases will be reflected in our price table next week when they take effect.

Buyers said they had expected a base oil price decrease before the end of the month as crude oil prices have plummeted, global economic uncertainties continue, and stock market fluctuations are weighing on oil products.

Base oil demand is slowly picking up, sources said, but there may not be a significant jump in sales until right before the start of the spring season, as consumers are delaying purchases to minimize price risks.

The fresh round of decreases comes about a month and a half after Motiva led the previous round of price cuts with Dec. 1 markdowns. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were hovering in the low $40s per barrel in early December, and have touched levels below $30/bbl in the last few days.

On the naphthenic front, Cross Oil declared force majeure on refined petroleum products due to a fire at its Smackover, Ark., refinery. The fire damaged the refinery’s hydrotreater and cooling process equipment. Cross said in a Jan. 11 communication that the damage “means that Cross could have an inadequate supply of products to fulfill its contractual obligations with its customers.”

Cross also said it expected the refinery to resume operations within 30 days and that it would update its estimate as more definite details emerge. If it becomes necessary, Cross will begin to allocate supplies of product to its customers. Cross’ base oil plant has capacity to make 5,000 bbl/day of naphthenic oils.

Other naphthenic base oil suppliers have received inquiries regarding the potential availability of additional pale oils in the event Cross Oil starts its allocation.

Upstream, WTI futures fell more than 3 percent on Tuesday, registering the lowest levels since September 2003. Despite reports that Chinese oil demand had climbed to record highs in 2015, prices dropped as analysts predicted that the market would stay oversupplied throughout the year. The oil glut was expected to be exacerbated by an increase in Iranian output following the lifting of international sanctions. The U.S. market was closed on Monday due to the Martin Luther King holiday.

WTI settled on the CME/Nymex at $28.46 per barrel on Jan. 19, down $1.98/bbl from its Jan. 12 settlement of $30.44.

Light Louisiana Sweet wholesale spot prices closed at $30.80 on Jan. 15, compared with $33.02/bbl on Jan. 11, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

Brent was trading at $28.76/bbl on the CME on Jan. 19, down $2.10/bbl from $30.86 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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