Annual average WTI and Brent crude oil spot prices from 1990 to 2014 (U.S. dollars per barrel)

This graph displays the spot price for West Texas Intermediate and Brent crudes between 1990 and 2014. In 2013, the average spot price for West Texas Intermediate crude oil came to just under 98 U.S. dollars per barrel. Brent is a sweet light crude that often used in the manufacture of gasoline. Consequently, Brent is a crucial contributor to gasoline prices. Gas prices in Europe, particularly Norway, Italy and the Netherlands, are counted among the highest worldwide.

Crude oil spot prices

The world’s growing thirst for oil is likely to create disequilibrium between crude supply and demand, thus triggering price fluctuations at stock exchanges around the globe. Over the past decade, consumption volumes have risen from under 80 million barrels per day in 2002 to almost 90 million barrels per day in 2012. Driven by global economic growth, West Texas Intermediate crude reached annual average price levels near 100 U.S. dollars per barrel for the first time in 2008, when worldwide oil consumption exceeded production by over three million barrels daily. Although the difference can be accounted for by the production of biofuels and oil from unconventional sources, these figures show why adjustment measurements are required to balance supply and demand in the international crude oil market.

Economic theory has it that prices are a key element to adjust supply and demand, but political frameworks appear to be the crucial factor in this case. The WTI price trend will likely be affected by the quality of pipeline infrastructure between the U.S. Gulf and the nation’s oil-trading hub at Cushing, as well as political trends in other oil producing regions. With U.S. shale gas production on the rise, and with Russia accounting for approximately 13 percent of the world’s oil production volume, oil prices may just continue their rollercoaster ride through 2015. At an estimated 50.58 U.S. dollars, one barrel of WTI crude fell to the lowest February level since 2009. In February 2015, the price for a barrel of Brent stood at around 58.1 U.S. dollars, and the price for the OPEC basket grades stood at a little over 54 U.S. dollars.

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 West Texas IntermediateEurope Brent
1990 24.53 23.76
1995 18.43 17.02
2000 30.38 28.66
2001 25.98 24.46
2002 26.18 24.99
2003 31.08 28.85
2004 41.51 38.26
2005 56.64 54.57
2006 66.05 65.16
2007 72.34 72.44
2008 99.67 96.94
2009 61.95 61.74
2010 79.48 79.61
2011 94.88 111.26
2012 94.05 111.63
2013 97.98 108.56
2014* 93.26 99.02
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