Base Oil Price Report


Barge traffic restrictions on the upper reaches of the Ohio River were lifted Monday, to the relief of lubricant blenders who depend upon the river for transport of base oil supplies.

Traffic of wet goods, including base oils and chemicals, was restricted for a week following a Jan. 9 accident in which rain-swollen currents sank a tug boat and six barges approximately 30 miles downriver from Pittsburgh. Three people died in the incident, during which the tug and three of the barges washed through a dam.

Unable to locate one of the barges, authorities established a new channel for barges and reopened traffic for dry goods within a few days, according to Lt. j.g. Justin Covert, of the U.S. Coast Guards Marine Safety Office in Pittsburgh. The Coast Guard continued prohibiting traffic of wet goods as a precautionary measure until Monday.

The Ohio is a popular conduit for base oils transported from refiners on the Gulf Coast up the Mississippi River toward blenders on or near the Ohio. Gordon Terminal Service Co., for example, operates a terminal for base oils and blends lubricants at McKees Rocks, Pa. Valvoline operates a blending plant in Freedom, Pa., that is also supplied by barge.

Quite a bit of base oil moves on the Ohio, so this has been quite a disruption to deliveries, one supplier said.

Posted prices for paraffinic base oils in the United States were unchanged this week. Crude oil prices continued to climb. The price on the New York Mercantile Exchange closed yesterday at $48.25 per barrel, $2.46 higher than 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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