Vietnam’s base oils held firm in November even as they fell from a sixteen-month high the previous month.
South Korea remained the largest source of Vietnam’s base oils supplies in the first eleven months of 2023, displacing Singapore for the first time in at least three years.
Vietnam’s growing lube consumption and lack of domestic base oils production capacity makes it a valuable outlet for Asia’s base oils refiners.
The Asia-Pacific region has faced a slowdown in China’s demand for base oils supplies from overseas sources in recent years.
It faces the prospect of a change in India’s base oils requirements over the coming year.
The trends increase the importance of southeast Asian markets like Vietnam for suppliers like Singapore and South Korea.
Competition for market share in those outlets has intensified in response.
Vietnam’s base oils imports of less than 19,000t in November fell from more than 23,000t the previous month, provisional customs data showed.
Even with the slowdown, total imports of more than 92,000t in the five months to November exceeded year-earlier levels.
Vietnam’s base oils imports of around 110,000t in first-half 2023 had lagged year-earlier levels.
The pick-up in shipments mirrored a similar trend throughout most of southeast Asia as lube demand revived in the second half of last year.
Shipments from Singapore and South Korea combined accounted for more than 90pc of Vietnam’s total imports in November.