INSIGHT Base Oil Report Samantha Wright, Markets Editor, ICIS

Europe European domestic Group I prices were stable to soft, while Group II prices held steady and Group III values slipped down. Players are taking a wait-and-see approach to May, with many hesitant to commit to volumes at the beginning of the month.

Demand is low across the domestic market, with Group III seeing the biggest hit in consumption as the automotive industry is the key end market. Group I has seen some slight support from the agriculture and process oils markets, though demand for this grade has also slipped during the ongoing pandemic.

Europe export, Baltic Sea export and Black Sea export values all fell at the beginning of May, amid weak demand and very ample supply across the markets. There was some muted demand from West Africa, though players here are having issues securing funding in some cases. There are a few ongoing planned and unplanned production issues across the Europe and Baltic Sea markets, though some further planned shutdowns originally set for the second quarter have been postponed due to social distancing measures in the region.


US domestic and export prices generally saw a decrease at the beginning of May, with the exception of Group III values which held stable, though all prices have dropped during the past month. Demand is very limited globally amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with the export market most heavily impacted by the fall in buying interest.

There are no expectations that demand will increase until automotive manufacturers begin production again, which is anticipated sometime in May in the US.


Prices in Asia were stable to soft at the beginning of May, following sharp price drops during April. Demand is muted in the region amid ongoing movement restriction measures in several countries, though buying interest in China has started to rebound following the easing of restrictions in the country.

Downstream lubricants production has been low, particularly in India, with producers unable to shift cargoes.

Middle East

Middle East base oils prices fell significantly at the beginning of May amid restrictions on movement and commercial activity in the region. Activity has been muted in Iran, a key producer of Group I material in the region, due to length in the United Arab Emirates, a main demand hub.




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