U.S. Base Oil Price Report


A persistently tight supply and demand balance continues to be the main driver in the U.S. base oils market, with several producers reporting little to no stocks left at this juncture.

The limited availability is the result of recent and ongoing plant turnarounds, together with robust buying interest both on the domestic and export fronts.

Despite the fact that two of the turnarounds – the recent shutdown at the Excel Paralubes plant, and the current one at the Chevron unit in Pascagoula, Miss. – were conducted at API Group II units, the Group I segment was also feeling the effects of the general market tightness.

Both Phillips 66 and Flint Hills Resources – who jointly market product from the Excel Paralubes unit – have depleted their inventories and are slowly starting to rebuild stocks, according to sources.

Within the Group I tier, bright stock was commanding a lot of attention because requirements are outstripping availability and suppliers have been unable to ship volumes beyond those supplied under contract.

Mexican consumers were heard to be hunting for U.S. bright stock cargoes to no avail. A couple of Brazilian lots were understood to have been booked to fill some of the void. Bright stock was also heard to be in limited supply in Europe.

U.S. spot prices have moved up significantly over the last few days and participants noted that numbers quoted just a couple of days ago were no longer applicable, if product were available at all.

On the naphthenic side, participants reported a similarly snug market scenario. Suppliers have been striving to keep up with domestic demand and have received inquiries to move spot cargoes to India and other deep-sea destinations, but there was no extra product available, sources emphasized.

Meanwhile, buyers lamented the fact that posted base oil prices were adjusted up two to three weeks ago, and spot values keep edging up as well, while prices for finished lubricants remain fairly stagnant.

Increases in the different downstream lubricant sectors are difficult to push through, particularly as a round of increases was just completed last month to offset raw material price hikes implemented in March.

Both consumers and sellers were tracking crude oil numbers closely this week, as values have fluctuated significantly.

Oil futures settled at a two-week high on Monday after energy ministers from Saudi Arabia and Russia released statements announcing a nine-month extension of the production cuts implemented at the beginning of the year. This means current output caps would remain in place through the first quarter of 2018 if all members concur during the upcoming OPEC meeting on May 25.

West Texas Intermediate futures on the CME/Nymex settled at $48.66 per barrel on May 16, up $2.78/bbl from $45.88 per barrel on May 9.

Light Louisiana Sweet wholesale spot prices closed at $50.96 per barrel on May 15, and had settled at $48.56/bbl a week earlier, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Brent was trading at $51.65/bbl on the CME on May 16, up $2.92/bbl from $48.73/bbl on May 9.

Historic U.S. posted base oil prices and WTI and Brent crude spot prices are available for purchase in Excel format.

Related Topics

Base Oil Reports    Base Stocks    Market Topics    Other