Base oils

Informed decision-making with trusted market intelligence

Discover the factors influencing base oils markets

Global macroeconomic issues like cost of living and Chinese demand recovery are key influences in base oils markets. How will these factors affect automotive and industrial sectors? To what extent will base oils prices shift and what can indicate a potential shift in production from base oils to gas oil?

Buy, plan and negotiate more effectively with trusted intelligence that gives you a complete understanding of the base oils markets now and in future. Make your buying decisions with price reports and forecasts that you can rely on. Get a transparent view of true production costs and market changes to negotiate prices confidently.

Stay ahead in the base oils industry. Let forward-looking market intelligence guide your next move.

ICIS training

Keep up to date in today’s rapidly evolving commodity markets with expert online and in-person workshops and courses covering chemical and energy supply chains and market dynamics. ICIS offers a range of introductory and advanced topics as well as bespoke, in-house training.

Learn about our solutions for base oils

Pricing, news and analysis

Maximise profitability in uncertain markets with ICIS’ full range of solutions for base oils, including current and historic pricing, forecasts, supply and demand data, and news and analysis.

Data solutions

Learn about Insight, Hindsight and Foresight, our dedicated commodity solutions accessible through our subscriber platform, ICIS ClarityTM or Data as a Service channels.

2024 and beyond: global chemicals outlook

The global landscape for chemicals has changed significantly, with a lower demand growth expected to persist, however within these challenges and changes lies opportunity for those who adapt.

Base oils news

India’s Mundra Petrochemical taps Nuberg to build chlor-alkali plant

MUMBAI (ICIS)–Indian producer Mundra Petrochemicals Ltd has awarded engineering services company Nuberg EPC a contract to build its new 2,200 tonne/day chlor-alkali project in the western Gujarat state. “The project entails construction of the caustic soda plant within the 1m tonnes/year green polyvinyl chloride (PVC) project in Mundra, Gujarat,” Nuberg said in a statement on 11 April. Nuberg expects to complete the project within 15 months, without disclosing financial details of the contract. Nuberg EPC is a global engineering and turnkey project management company based in Noida in the northern Uttar Pradesh state. Mundra Petrochemical is a subsidiary of Adani Enterprises Ltd, which is owned by major Indian conglomerate Adani Group. The caustic soda project forms part of the Adani Group’s 2m tonne/year greenfield PVC project in Mundra. In March 2023, the company halted construction of the PVC project as it worked to secure project funding. A consortium of banks led by state-owned State Bank of India had agreed in July last year to finance a significant part of the company’s PVC project, according to media reports. The project involves setting up a 2m tonnes/year PVC plant in two phases with the first phase expected to be commissioned in the fiscal year ending March 2026.


USDA calling for smaller ending corn stocks in April WASDE

HOUSTON (ICIS)–The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is calling for smaller ending corn stocks, while for soybeans it is forecasting higher ending supply, according to the April World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. For the corn outlook the monthly update is projecting not only the lower amount of ending stocks but also greater usage of the crop for ethanol and feed and residual use. Corn used for ethanol is being raised by 25 million bushels to stand at 5.4 billion bushels based on data through February from the Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production report and weekly ethanol production data as reported by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Feed and residual use is also being increased by 25 million bushels to 5.7 billion bushels based on indicated disappearance during the December-February quarter. With no supply changes and use rising, the WASDE said ending stocks are now projected lowered by 50 million bushels to 2.1 billion bushels. The USDA said season-average farm price received by producers is now down by 5 cents to $4.70 per bushel. For soybeans, the outlook for supply and use not only expects higher ending stocks but also lower imports, residual use and exports. The monthly update said the soybean trade is being reduced on the pace seen to date and expectations for future shipments. With the trade changes and slightly lower residual, soybean ending stocks are raised by 25 million bushels to 340 million bushels. The agency said the season-average soybean price is now forecasted lower by 10 cents to $12.55 per bushel. The next WASDE report will be released on 10 May.


ExxonMobil to sell Fos–sur-Mer refinery in France

LONDON (ICIS)–ExxonMobil’s French affiliate, Esso SAF, plans to sell its Fos-Sur-Mer refinery near Marseille, France, along with fuel terminals in Toulouse and Villette, by the end of the year, officials announced on Thursday. The buyer is Rhone Energies, which is a consortium between oil and commodities trader Trafigura and Entara. About 310 Esso employees are expected to transfer to Rhone Energies. The sale is subject to regulatory and other approvals. Financial details were not disclosed. The sale of the refinery, which has a crude oil processing capacity of 7 million tonnes/year, is part of Esso's long-term strategy in France to maintain the competitiveness of its operations while guaranteeing continuity of supply to its customers in the south of France, it said. Esso will continue to supply the fuel market in southern France and the proposed sale will not impact its other activities in France, it added. Entara, which was established by former executives of Crossbridge Energy, will operate the Fos-sur-Mer refinery. Trafigura plans to enter into a minimum 10-year exclusive crude oil supply and product offtake agreement, ensuring that the refinery has a secure supply of on-demand feedstock at competitive costs and a reliable off-taker of refined products destined to the domestic market, it said. The refinery will continue to be an important contributor to energy security in the region and would benefit from Trafigura’s global trading and logistics network, said Ben Luckock, Global Head of Oil for Trafigura. Oil and petroleum products will continue to play an important role in supporting growing global energy demand during the transition currently underway to a low-carbon economy, Luckock added. Rhone Energies intends to invest in the sustainability of the site to reduce its carbon footprint while also investing in growth projects enabling further co-processing of biogenic feedstocks to produce renewable fuels. In related news, ExxonMobil Chemical France announced earlier on Thursday that it plans to close its chemical production at Gravenchon in Normandy in 2024, subject to relevant government approvals. That closure is entirely separate from the proposed sale of the refinery, officials said. Additional reporting by Nel Weddle Thumbnail photo: A worker walking past ExxonMobil’s Fos-sur-mer complex. Source: Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA/Shutterstock


INVISTA to explore alternatives for nylon fibers business

HOUSTON (ICIS)–INVISTA plans to explore strategic alternatives for its nylon fibers business and has engaged Barclays as exclusive financial advisor during the exploration process, the US-based manufacturer of chemical intermediates, polymers and fibers said in a statement late on Tuesday. The nylon fibers business includes: INVISTA’s fiber-focused portfolio: airbag and industrial fibers The CORDURA businesses Five supporting global manufacturing locations: Seaford, Delaware and Martinsville, Virginia, both in the US; Kingston, Ontario, Canada; Gloucester, UK; and Qingpu, China INVISTA believes that there are other companies with a different focus and capabilities that could create greater value with those assets, said CEO Francis Murphy. If, however, through the process INVISTA finds that other companies do not value the nylon business more highly, it will continue to operate it, Murphy said. If INVISTA proceeds with a transaction, it would also result in a simplification and strengthened focus on its long-term competitive positions in the upstream nylon and propylene value chain businesses, it said. The nylon fiber assets are a major part of the current INVISTA footprint, “and it would be premature to speculate on the final structure of a potential deal”, it said, adding that details of the business and exploration process are confidential. Regardless of a potential transaction to divest its nylon fibers business, INVISTA will continue to supply its global nylon and propylene value chain customers with intermediates, polymers and specialty chemicals, the company said. Photo source: Attapon Thana/Shutterstock


BLOG: Oil and financial markets start to wake up to geopolitical reality

LONDON (ICIS)–Click here to see the latest blog post on Chemicals & The Economy by Paul Hodges, which looks at how geopolitics are now driving oil markets. Editor’s note: This blog post is an opinion piece. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ICIS. Paul Hodges is the chairman of consultants New Normal Consulting.


Fitch downgrades China rating outlook to ‘negative’ as debts pile up

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s fiscal challenges amid rising government debt and its prolonged property slump weighing on recovery prospects prompted Fitch to revise down its credit rating outlook for the world’s second-biggest economy to “negative” from “stable”. Fitch has, nonetheless, affirmed China’s investment grade long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating (IDR) of “A+”. Deficit-to-GDP ratio to rise to 7.1%; reduction plan to be gradual GDP growth forecast to slow to 4.5% Prolonged deflation ruled out “The Outlook revision reflects increasing risks to China's public finance outlook as the country contends with more uncertain economic prospects amid a transition away from property-reliant growth to what the government views as a more sustainable growth model,” the ratings firm said in a report released late on 9 April. Fitch forecasts China’s fiscal deficit to rise to 7.1% of GDP in 2024, from 5.8% in the previous year. It will be the highest since 2020, when the country’s fiscal deficit-to-GDP ratio hit 8.6%, and more than double the pre-pandemic average of 3.1% in 2015-2019. “The central government (CG) will shoulder a greater share of the fiscal burden in 2024, as local and regional government (LRG) finances remain constrained from declines in land-related revenue and high debt burdens,” it said. China’s central government plans to issue Chinese yuan (CNY) 1 trillion ($138bn), equivalent to 0.8% of GDP, worth of ultra-long bonds, on top of a bond issuance of the same size in 2023. “Wide fiscal deficits and rising government debt in recent years have eroded fiscal buffers from a ratings perspective,” Fitch said. “Fitch believes that fiscal policy is increasingly likely to play an important role in supporting growth in the coming years which could keep debt on a steady upward trend,” it added. “We expect deficit reduction to be gradual as it will likely be balanced against economic growth objectives,” the ratings firm said. “There is little clarity on reform measures to support medium-term fiscal consolidation. The revenue base has also eroded, as a result of tax relief measures since 2018 and a weaker outlook for property-related revenue (20%-30% of total LRG revenue),” it added. Gloom continued to surround China’s property sector, with some major developers facing liquidation, dampening optimism over recent upbeat data on manufacturing. Home prices in the country continued to decline, with contract sales volume of top 100 Chinese developers at record lows. China’s investment grade rating, however, “is supported by its large and diversified economy, still solid GDP growth prospects relative to peers, integral role in global goods trade, robust external finances, and reserve currency status of the yuan”. The economy is projected to post a slower growth of 4.5% this year, compared with the actual pace of 5.2% in 2023, according to Fitch Ratings. The GDP growth forecast was also lower than the government’s target of about 5%. China had a six-month bout with deflation in consumer prices which ended in February, when demand was boosted by the week-long Lunar New Year holiday. “We do not forecast a prolonged period of deflation, with inflation of 0.7% by end-2024 and 1.3% by end-2025,” it said. “Even so, risks are tilted to the downside and inflation could remain lower than we forecast, further weighing on the nominal GDP growth outlook,” Fitch added. Focus article by Pearl Bantillo ($1 = CNY7.23) Thumbnail image: At the Dapukou container terminal at Zhoushan port in Zhejiang province, China, on 9 April 2024 (Costfoto/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)


No major economic policy impact from S Korea legislative elections

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–South Korea's legislative elections on 10 April will unlikely have a material impact on the country's near-term economic policies, but a majority win by the conservative People Power Party (PPP) would allow President Yoon Suk-yeol to implement his fiscal priorities. His People Power Party does not control majority of the 300-seat National Assembly, which is dominated by its rival Democratic Party since 2020. "President Yoon Suk-yeol could find it easier to advance his fiscal and economic reform agenda if the opposition’s current majority in the National Assembly is reduced or overturned," Fitch Ratings said in a note. Yoon, who was elected as South Korea’s president in March 2022, has proposed to eliminate capital gains tax but this continues to face opposition from the Democratic Party. In January, the South Korean government leader pledged to overhaul the country's tax system, which he perceives as excessively burdensome, discouraging stock investments. "Passage of the administration’s fiscal rule, which is under discussion in the [legislative] body, could help anchor fiscal policy in the medium term," Fitch Ratings said. If the ruling PPP wins, it is expected to have a positive effect on tax reforms, corporate value-up programs, and lifting a short-selling ban, as the government pushes for these reforms in the National Assembly, Global Markets Research said in a note. However, should the opposition democratic party win, they are likely to urge increased fiscal spending in 2025 and beyond, aligning with their preference for an expansionary fiscal policy, it said. With the democratic party currently in the majority, South Korea's budget for 2024 was passed with few changes to the government’s original proposal. "However, both parties are calling for some kind of fiscal stimulus – the DP argues for a cash transfer programme, while the PPP prefers a reduction in value-added tax (VAT) – and fiscal policy may, therefore, turn more supportive for growth in the second half of this year," ING said. "Although the general election will likely change the current political landscape, we expect the election results to have a limited impact on economic policy, as the National Assembly does not have executive powers," Nomura said. "We believe the general election results will have no impact on monetary policy as the Bank of Korea (BoK) will remain independent, regardless of the election results,” it added. The BoK, which is scheduled to meet two days after the parliamentary elections, is expected to deliver a dovish hold on interest rates in response to intensifying slowdown in the domestic economy, Nomura said. "We expect the BOK to enhance its dovish signals, including a dovish tweak to the policy statement and lowering the dot plot, which would support our forecast for a first 25 basis point cut in July, and subsequently take the policy rate down substantially to 2.5% by end-2024, from the current 3.5%." In March, South Korea’s central bank indicated interest rate cuts were unlikely in the first half of 2024 as inflation remains above target. It has left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 3.50% since January 2023. Consumer inflation in March stood at 3.1%, unchanged from February, amid higher oil prices. South Korea is Asia's fourth largest economy – after China, Japan and India – and a major petrochemical net exporter. Its GDP growth weakened to 1.4% last year from 2.6% in 2022, weighed down by high interest rates; economic slowdown by China, its biggest trading partner; and poor global demand for memory chips, its primary export. Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman


‘Extremely active’ 2024 Atlantic hurricane season could mirror 2020, threaten US Gulf chem production

HOUSTON (ICIS)–The 2024 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be extremely active, and has similar characteristics to the 2020 season, meaning it could threaten offshore oil and natural gas production in the US Gulf and chemical producers along the Gulf Coast. Source: Colorado State University (CSU)  A report late last week from researchers at CSU follows a report released on 27 March by US meteorology firm AccuWeather that also predicted an active hurricane season. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will issue its first seasonal hurricane report in late May. So far, the CSU team said it is seeing similar characteristics to hurricane seasons in 1998, 2010 and 2020. The 2020 season saw 30 named storms, of which 13 became hurricanes and six of those were major storms. Storms in 2020 that impacted chemical operations included: Tropical Storm Marco hit Louisiana on 24 August. Days later, Hurricane Laura made landfall as a powerful category 4 storm in Louisiana near the border of Texas. Then, Hurricane Sally made landfall on 16 September in Alabama as a category 2 storm, followed by Tropical Storm Beta which made landfall less than a week later in Texas. Hurricane Delta followed a similar path as Hurricane Laura, making landfall on 9 October as a category 2 storm in Louisiana. Weeks later, Hurricane Zeta hit Cocodrie, Louisiana, as a category 2 storm. Hurricane Laura knocked 16% of total US ethylene capacity and 11% of total US propylene capacity offline, according to the ICIS Supply and Demand Database. About 18% of polyethylene (PE) production was offline, and 26% of polypropylene (PP) production was offline. Styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), a synthetic rubber used to make tires, had 46% of its US capacity offline. The CSU team said record warm tropical and eastern subtropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are the primary factor for the active season prediction. “When waters in the eastern and central tropical and subtropical Atlantic are much warmer than normal in the spring, it tends to force a weaker subtropical high and associated weaker winds blowing across the tropical Atlantic,” researchers said. “These conditions will likely lead to a continuation of well above-average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic for the peak of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season.” Warm ocean waters serve as the fuel source for hurricanes, the CSU team said. “In addition, a warm Atlantic leads to lower atmospheric pressure and a more unstable atmosphere,” they said. “Both conditions favor hurricanes.” The current El Nino is likely to transition to a La Nina by the peak of the season – from August to October. Hurricane season begins on 1 June and runs through the end of November. Hurricanes and tropical storms can disrupt the North American petrochemical industry, because oil and gas production are concentrated in the Gulf of Mexico. Also, many of the nation's refineries and petrochemical plants are along the US Gulf Coast in the states of Texas and Louisiana. Even the threat of a major storm can disrupt oil and natural gas production, because companies must evacuate US Gulf platforms as a precaution. Thumbnail image shows a weather satellite orbiting over a hurricane. Photo by John Pulsipher/image from Shutterstock


Finland's Neste to supply renewable feedstock to Korea’s Lotte Chemical

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Neste will be supplying renewable feedstock to South Korea’s Lotte Chemical for the production of polymers and chemicals, the Finland-based refiner said on Monday. "Lotte Chemical will use Neste RE at the company’s Korean sites to produce various common types of plastics and chemicals in Lotte Chemical’s broad product portfolio," it said in a statement. "With chemicals and plastics still largely depending on fossil resources, both companies see an urgent need to make a switch to more sustainable alternatives." Neste RE is a ISCC (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification)-certified feedstock for polymers and chemicals made from renewable raw materials such as waste and residue oil and fats. Financial details and timeline of the collaboration were not disclosed.


Brent crude falls by more than $2/bbl on hopes over Israel-Hamas ceasefire talks

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Brent crude fell by more than $2/barrel on Monday as tensions in the Middle East eased after Israel's withdrew more troops from southern Gaza and signaled that it was willing to resume talks for a ceasefire to end the six-month conflict. Product ($/bbl) Latest at 01:08 GMT Previous Change Brent June 88.99 91.17 -2.18 WTI May 84.94 86.91 -1.97 On 5 April, benchmark crude prices rose to seven-months as rising tensions in the Middle East were fuelling fears of supply disruption, with further concerns about Iranian crude exports. Israel and Hamas have dispatched delegations to Egypt ahead of the Eid holidays to engage in new discussions regarding a potential ceasefire. Eid ul-Fitr holidays mark the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Since the beginning of the year, Israel has been reducing its presence in Gaza to ease the burden on reservists as it faces mounting pressure from its ally, the US, to address the humanitarian situation, particularly following recent killing of seven aid workers. Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant on 7 April said that Israel is prepared to manage any scenario with Iran, following Tehran's threat to respond to the assassination of Iranian generals on 1 April in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Crude prices have been on the rise in recent weeks due to anticipated constraints on oil supplies. OPEC and its allies (OPEC+) have re-affirmed their commitment to maintaining production cuts until the end of June. Additionally, Russia, a major oil producer, has indicated its intention to implement further reductions in production. The fuel production in Russia was further hindered by Ukrainian strikes targeting the nation's oil infrastructure, resulting in the shutdown of several major refineries. Market participants now await release of monthly oil reports from the International Energy Agency (IEA), US Energy Information Administration (EIA) and OPEC this week for better clarity on supply and demand forecasts for this year.


ICIS Foresight – Base Oil Asia-Pacific

Buy, plan and negotiate more effectively with 18-month price forecasts and analytics. Monitor cost pressures and identify early signs of production shifts.

Events and training


Build your networks and grow your business at ICIS’ industry-leading events. Hear from high-profile speakers on the issues, technologies and trends driving commodity markets.


Keep up to date in today’s dynamic commodity markets with expert online and in-person training covering chemicals, fertilizers and energy markets.

Contact us

Partner with ICIS and unlock a vision of a future you can trust and achieve. We leverage our unrivalled network of chemicals industry experts to support our partners as they transact today and plan for tomorrow. Capitalise on opportunity in today’s dynamic and interconnected chemicals markets, with a comprehensive market view based on trusted data, insight and analytics.

Get in touch to find out more.