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Base Oil Report


The U.S. base oils market was eerily quiet for most of February, leading many participants to wonder whether there was something happening behind the scenes that they were missing.

However, aside from muffled preparations for a couple of turnarounds which sources reported would be starting in March-one at the Excel Paralubes plant in Westlake, Louisiana, and the other at Chevrons unit in Pascagoula, Mississippi-there was little out of the ordinary taking place.

Some of the market stillness was likely brought about by players participation at the ICIS World Base Oils conference in London in mid-February.

This event, together with the AFPM International Base Oils and Waxes conference taking place in San Antonio, Texas, this month, was anticipated to gather over 750 delegates-an impressive number that attests to the popularity of industry events.

Participants not only attend these events to network and learn about the industry through presentations and seminars, but generally go prepared for a busy schedule, replete with meetings to discuss supply agreements and confidential information.

In the case of the ICIS conference, there was speculation that the event would serve as the backdrop for many conversations about the spring production season.

Base oil demand typically picks up toward the end of February as downstream manufacturers start to pad inventories ahead of the busiest time of the year for lubricant production.

Requirements were steady in January and part of February but not particularly robust, while posted prices experienced no adjustments following a round of increases implemented between late December and mid-January.

But discussions were expected to gain momentum in London and San Antonio, and they were not anticipated to be limited to European and U.S. players, but include participants from all over the Americas and Asia.

The world may be getting smaller, and there is no doubt that trade partners are more readily accessible thanks to cellular phones and computers, but the fact remains that nothing can replace the personal touch when it comes down to sealing a business deal.

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