U.S. Base Oil Price Report


Strained supply and steady requirements continued to characterize the U.S. base oil market and offered support to current postings and spot indications.

A majority of producers reported low inventories and minimal availability beyond those volumes earmarked for contractual obligations.

As a result, and given the lack of extra molecules, spot price ideas have moved up over the last few weeks, sources noted.

Within the API Group I segment, bright stock was still commanding a fair amount of attention because of strong buying interest for both domestic and export transactions against a backdrop of depleted supplier inventories.

Mexican buyers appeared to be especially keen on acquiring cargoes, but most U.S. suppliers were not able to offer additional parcels until July or August.

Bright stock spot prices at the border have moved up by 5-15 cents/gal in the last couple of weeks, with offers heard at about $3.20-$3.30/gal, but realistically, even at the higher levels, it was difficult to secure any product, sources commented.

Recent and ongoing plant turnarounds were seen as the main culprits for the tight supply fundamentals. While a couple of plants have resumed output, others were still heard to be off-line.

According to sources, one of Motivas three base oil trains at its Port Arthur, Texas, refinery was still undergoing maintenance. The unit was expected to be restarted sometime this month.

Fresh information emerged regarding Chevrons production at Pascagoula, Miss. The Group II plant might not be undergoing a turnaround in the summer as previously anticipated, but the companys Richmond, Calif., unit appears to be off-line at the moment, according to sources.

The Richmond facility can produce 20,700 b/d of Group II base oils, and was expected to complete a turnaround some time in the second half of June. The plant has apparently experienced minor production hiccups throughout the year and the current maintenance program should correct some of these issues. Despite the shutdown, Chevron has been meeting contract commitments in a timely manner, sources noted.

Producer confirmation about the turnarounds was unavailable.

Meanwhile, on the naphthenic base oil front, there were no further price initiatives heard following last weeks announcement by producer Cross Oil.

Cross Oil indicated that it was increasing all of its naphthenic products by 15 cents per gallon on June 1, with the higher numbers applied on orders shipped on or after June 7.

Other pale oil suppliers continued to evaluate market fundamentals, but had not communicated any changes at the time of writing.

Upstream, crude oil futures reversed course and drifted lower in early morning trade on Tuesday, after reports that crude oil production in May had risen despite OPECs output cut agreement, as Libya, Nigeria and Iraq showed increases in production.

West Texas Intermediate futures on the CME/Nymex settled at $46.46 per barrel on June 13, down $1.73/bbl from $48.19 per barrel on June 6.

Light Louisiana Sweet wholesale spot prices closed at $48.20 per barrel on June 12, and had settled at $49.50/bbl on June 5, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Brent was trading at $48.72/bbl on the CME on June 13, down $1.40/bbl from $50.12/bbl on June 6.

Vacuum gas oil differentials were steady. Low sulfur VGO was at July WTI plus $8.40/bbl ($54.48/bbl), and high sulfur VGO was at crude plus $6.40/bbl ($52.48/bbl) on June 12, according to data from PetroChemWire.

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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