U.S. Base Oil Price Report


An avalanche of paraffinic base oil price adjustments ensued after Motivas decrease initiative a week ago, which was trailed closely by Flint Hills Resources own markdowns.

Following the first two announcements, Phillips 66 notified customers that it would be lowering prices of its API Group II Pure Performance base oils as of Feb. 18. The producers 70N, 80N and 110N oils edged down 15 cents/gal, its 225N grade fell 20 cents/gal, and its 600N grade slipped 25 cents/gal.

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Also in the Group II category, Chevron will reduce prices by 10 cents/gal for its 100R oil, 15 cents/gal for its 220R cut and 25 cents/gal for its 600R oil; these changes will all be implemented Feb. 24 to reflect current supply/demand balance and market conditions, a company source said.

According to sources, ExxonMobil also decreased its Group II EHC65 cut (230-vis) by 20 cents/gal, while its Group II+ EHC45 (130-vis) oil moved down 15 cents/gal effective Feb. 22. Sources noted that the producer had reserved the right to reconsider the price changes at a later date.

As for the producers Group I cuts, it was heard that the light-viscosity oils fell 15 cents/gal, while its mid-vis and high-vis oils, together with its bright stock, dropped 20 cents/gal. There was no producer confirmation forthcoming about the revisions.

In a similar fashion, Paulsboro will be reducing its Group I light grades by 15 cents/gal and its high-vis cuts and bright stock by 20 cents/gal on Feb. 25.

Also within the Group I tier, HollyFrontier lowered its Group I SN70-150 cuts 15 cents/gal and its SN250-525 oils and bright stock 20 cents/gal, effective Feb. 22.

Calumet communicated that it would reduce allparaffinicoils pricing on Feb. 24. The producers Group I 600 cut and bright stock will be lowered 20 cents/gal. Its Group II 150-vis cut and lighter grades will decrease 15 cents/gallon, while products heavier than the 150-vis cut will edge down 20 cents/gallon. (Please note thatCalumet decreased its paraffinic base oils, not its naphthenic oils as mentioned in an earlier version of Lube Report).

On Feb. 16, Motiva had adjusted its Group II prices down by 15 cents, 20 cents, and 25 cents/gal, with the heavy grade experiencing the highest drop.

Flint Hills Resources had marked down its Group II cuts 15 cents, 20 cents, and 22 cents/gal on Feb. 17. As was the case with Motiva and the other Group II producers, Flint Hills 600-vis oil underwent the steeper price cut.

Aside from crude oil price volatility, the price adjustments were believed to have been spurred by ample availability of most base oils grades within the domestic supply system – as a number of turnarounds reach completion – and there has also been a drop in export volumes.

According to sources, little Group II product of U.S. origin is currently moving to India, compared to a few months ago when large quantities were being exported, as prices in Asia have fallen considerably and regional cargoes are more competitive.

Group I suppliers have also seen subdued buying appetite for U.S. product in Europe, as availability there is described as more than adequate to cover current requirements.

On the naphthenic front, there were no price changes heard, but fresh news emerged regarding Cross Oils Smackover, Arkansas, base oil plant. The unit has been brought back on line this week, a company source said, following the completion of repairs to the refinerys hydrotreater and cooling process equipment, which had been damaged by a fire in early January. The unit has capacity to make 5,000 barrels per day of naphthenic oils.

Upstream, West Texas Intermediate futures registered a sharp drop after trending up for a few days following Saudi Arabias oil ministers comment that Saudi Arabia would not cut oil output, crumpling hopes that OPEC producers would agree to a production cutback.

WTI settled on the CME/Nymex at $31.87 per barrel on Feb. 23, up $2.83/bbl from its Feb. 16 settlement of $29.04.

Light Louisiana Sweet wholesale spot prices closed at $34.25 on Feb. 22, compared with $27.42/bbl on Feb. 11, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Brent was trading at $33.27/bbl on the CME on Feb. 23, up $$1.09/bbl from $32.18 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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