By Carolyn L. Green
ExxonMobil, Chevron, Flint Hills Resources, Holly, ConocoPhillips, Valero, Calumet and SK stepped out with plans to raise API Group I, II, II+, III and III+ posted prices by 5 cents to 45 cents per gallon this week.
These moves followed Motiva’s 20 cent to 35 cent/gal increases reported last week and will complete a round of price hikes in a near-record 10-day span.
According to its customers, ExxonMobil added 10 cents to 35 cents per gallon to its lineup of base oils effective Monday, July 13. In the Group I category, SN 100 went up by 26 cents/gal, SN 150 climbed 35 cents/gal, SN 275 ascended 22 cents/gal and SN 330 moved higher by 25 cents/gal. SN 600 rose 30 cents/gal and the bright stock posting by 10 cents/gal. ExxonMobil’s Group II+ (110 vis and 190 vis) postings were boosted by 20 cents/gal.
Also on July 13, Chevron moved all its Group II paraffinic grades, raising its 100 vis 45 cents/gal, 220 vis 20 cents/gal and 600 vis 30 cents/gal. The company said that steeper prices were necessary as supply/demand conditions have improved in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, July 14, FHR increased its light-end 70HC, 75HC and 100HC by 20 cents/gal, boosted 230HC by 15 cents/gal and pulled 600HC higher by 30 cents/gal.
Holly shifted its Group I base stocks higher by 10 cents to 35 cents/gal, also on Tuesday, July 14. SN 70 and SN 100 climbed 26 cents/gal, SN 148 went up by 35 cents/gal, SN 250 gained 22 cents/gal and SN 500 jumped 30 cents/gal. The bright stock price was pulled higher by 10 cents/gal.
Today, July 15, ConocoPhillips upped its line-up of Group II postings between 25 cents and 40 cents/gal. The 70 vis and 80 vis grades moved up 40 cents/gal, 110 vis rose 35 cents/gal, 225 vis gained 25 cents/gal and 600 vis added 30 cents/gal. COP also said that its Group II+ light viscosity oils went up 30 cents/gal. In the Group III category, Ultra-S 4 moved higher by 20 cents/gal and Ultra-S 8 jumped 25 cents/gal. ConocoPhillips markets S-Oil’s Group III oils in North America.
Valero plans to hike posted prices on Thursday, July 16. The company will raise SN 100 by 26 cents/gal, SN 165 by 20 cents/gal, SN 500 and SN 700 by 5 cents/gal, while bright stock will climb 10 cents/gal.
Also on Thursday, July 16, Calumet will advance its posted prices. Group I grades 60 and 700 will go up by 20 cents/gal and the bright stock posting will be marked up by 10 cents/gal. Group II paraffinics 80, 100 and 325 will be increased by 20 cents/gal, while the 150 vis posting will climb 25 cents/gal. Apart from these moves, the company plans to take this opportunity to adjust its lower-tier pricing by additional amounts.
SK plans to increase all Yubase postings by 20 cents/gal, effective Monday, July 20.
Although a few suppliers indicated that sales have improved recently, overall activity was still considered slow in the eyes of a number of participants, particularly buyers.
Consumers are trying to understand this latest series of increases, but admit they are finding it difficult. They say that demand is generally weak and supply availability sufficient; therefore, these upward price adjustments appear unjustified.
Standing their ground, producers pointed to severely decayed margins alongside escalating operating costs as well as recent improved supply/demand conditions as justification to raise postings.
There does remain some offshore interest, with a few traders seeking a combination of light, mid and heavy viscosity grades from U.S. suppliers. However, to meet the required window of opportunity for export, supply availability remains tricky. In some cases, there are only negligible volumes of light or heavy material, but no volumes substantial enough for cargoes.
Looking upstream, crude oil prices have been trickling lower in recent weeks and are now below $60 per barrel, reaching their lowest levels in about two months. Analysts speculate that the trend may continue for the near term as economic fundamentals continue to be very weak.
Another factor driving crude prices lower is that U.S. regulators have said they are planning to move more aggressively to rein in excessive speculation in energy and commodity markets – pushing for greater transparency. Based on this speculation, the market has become more aligned with current fundamentals, analysts suggested.
At the close of the Tuesday, July 14, NYMEX session, front month light sweet crude oil futures ended the day at $59.52 per barrel, a loss of $3.41 from the week earlier settlement at $62.93/bbl.
Carolyn L. Green, based in Houston, can be reached directly at email@example.com.