U.S. Base Oil Price Report


Further price decreases trickled into the U.S. base oil market, with one naphthenic producer also joining the round of markdowns initiated by Motiva about a week ago.

Within the API Group I segment, HollyFrontier lowered all of its paraffinic base oil cuts 15 cents per gallon on Jan. 21.

Calumet communicated that it would be reducing its Group I and II posted prices on Jan. 27. The producer’s Group I 600-vis cut and bright stock, as well as its Group II 325-vis grade, will be reduced 15 cents per gallon, while its Group II 80-100-150-vis grades will edge down 10 cents/gal.

Chevron also stepped out with markdowns for its Group II cuts “to reflect the current supply/demand balance and market conditions,” a company source explained. The producer will trim its 100R cut 10 cents/gal, its 220R oil 15 cents/gal, and its 600R grade 20 cents/gal as of Jan. 27.

Paulsboro announced price decreases last week, but the reductions will take effect Jan. 27 and are therefore reflected in this week’s Price table. The producer dropped its light-vis grade 10 cents/gal, its high-vis cut 15 cents/gal and its bright stock 12 cents/gal.

In the Group II+ segment, Kleen Performance decreased its 120-vis grade 10 cents/gal and its 240-vis oil 15 cents/gal on Jan. 25.

Aside from weaker crude oil and feedstock prices, the price revisions were said to be prompted by tepid demand against mounting inventories.

A number of suppliers said that orders had started to improve in the last two weeks, but stronger requirements were needed to achieve a better-balanced market.

Buyers in Mexico have also been hesitant about securing U.S. cargoes as they hoped spot prices would continue on a downward trend. The weakening of the local peso against the dollar is complicating matters even further, a supplier noted.

On the naphthenic side, Ergon Refining announced a 20 cent/gal decrease on naphthenic products across the board, including all viscosities and specialties. The price decreases will also take effect Jan. 27.

Other pale oil producers were slightly surprised by the decrease and expressed reluctance to adjust prices, because supply of the naphthenic cuts has tightened, following Cross’ force majeure declaration on Jan. 11. A number of them noted that they had received additional orders from Cross’ customers given limited availability of certain grades.

Furthermore, San Joaquin Refining’s Bakersfield, Calif., refinery is undergoing a turnaround, which is expected to be completed on Feb. 1. The producer noted that its inventory is nearly depleted, and expects to be able to replenish stocks and be fully caught up by late February.

Ergon will also shut down its Vicksburg, Miss., 22,000 barrels per day naphthenic base oils plant for a three-week maintenance program in the first part of the first quarter of this year. The producer has prepared inventories to cover requirements during the outage and does not expect any supply disruptions.

The see-sawing of crude oil prices continues to be a matter of great concern and a significant challenge to base oil producers. West Texas Intermediate futures jumped by more than 5 percent on Tuesday, on hopes that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producers would consider a deal to reduce production as a means to control a growing global supply glut. Crude values had fallen below $30 per barrel the previous week, registering the lowest levels since September 2003.

WTI settled on the CME/Nymex at $31.45 per barrel on Jan. 26, up $2.99/bbl from its Jan. 19 settlement of $28.46.

Light Louisiana Sweet wholesale spot prices closed at $31.66 on Jan. 25, compared with $30.80/bbl on Jan. 15, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

Brent was trading at $31.80/bbl on the CME on Jan. 26, up $3.04/bbl from $28.76 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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