Base Oil Price Report


The North American base oil market appears to have emerged unscathed from its turnaround season.

ExxonMobils base oil refinery in Baton Rouge, La., recently resumed operations after completing a maintenance shutdown essentially as scheduled, a market source said. Baton Rouge was the third U.S. plant to temporarily close during the first quarter. ChevronTexacos plant in Richmond, Calif., and Motivas plant at Port Arthur, Texas, reportedly had similarly successful turnarounds.

The smoothness of those events was somewhat of a relief to base oil buyers who were shaken by a rash of production disruptions in 2003. Plant operators had promised that the three recent shutdowns would not affect supply, and indeed observers said they noticed no impact.

Winter is usually the busiest season for maintenance turnarounds because base oil demand slows then. Valeros plant in Paulsboro, N.J., is scheduled to halt production for approximately two weeks in May due to work being done in the larger refinery complex, but the market has little other planned downtime.

Of course, there is always the potential for unplanned downtime. Last years disruptions included shutdowns caused by power outages, an explosion and maintenance that was scheduled with relatively little lead time. The market has already experienced one such disruption this year: Sunocos plant in Tulsa, Okla., is producing bright stockat partial capacity as it works to repair damage caused by a March 23 fire in the refinerys propane deasphalting unit.

Posted prices for paraffinic base oils were unchanged this week. The price of crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange closed yesterday at $37.06 per barrel, up $1.96 from the previous week.

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