U.S. Base Oil Price Report


Motiva Enterprises said that it will expand its Port Arthur refinery in Texas, increasing crude capacity from 325,000 barrels per day to 600,000 b/d. Once completed in 2010, the expansion project will make the refinery the largest in the U.S., surpassing ExxonMobils in Baytown, Texas, currently the largest facility, by almost 40,000 b/d.

The expansion is designed to strengthen our nation’s supply of gasoline, diesel, aviation fuels and high quality base oils, said William B. Welte, Motiva president and chief executive officer in the statement announcing the decision.

Another company source said there are no immediate plans to boost the output of base oils, with the immediate focus on crude capacity and subsequent fuel-related products.

The project is expected to cost about $7 billion and will generate more than 4,500 construction jobs and about 300 new full-time jobs when done.

In the naphthenic sector, a round of price increase announcements hit the market this week. Calumet, Cross and Nynas said they plan to raise all pale oils by 15 cents per gallon between Oct. 1 and Oct. 8. Ergon said it would make a decision later in the week whether it would boost prices.

These proposed increases followed a price movement initiated by San Joaquin Refinery last week. SJR said it was upping its pale oils by 10 cents/gal for all grades, excluding 60 vis and transformer oil, effective Sept. 24.

Naphthenic producers said that climbing crude values are the key factor driving pale oil prices higher.

This same argument has yet to persuade paraffinic producers to attempt price hikes. Sources said that despite stiff operating costs, paraffinic inventories are sufficient and demand is largely flat. Therefore, price increase endeavors would likely be unsuccessful, they added.

At the close of trading Tuesday on the NYMEX, the front-month November light sweet crude futures settled at $79.53 per barrel, a loss of $1.98/bbl from the Sept. 18 close.During intra-day trade, crude reached a high of $80.25/bbl and hit a low of $79/bbl.

Posted paraffinic prices are unchanged this week.

Carolyn L. Green, based in Houston, can be reached directly at carolynlgreen@gmail.com.

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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