WTI and Brent crude oil: average annual spot prices 1990-2018

This graph displays the spot price for West Texas Intermediate and Brent crudes between 1990 and 2018. In 2018, the average spot price for West Texas Intermediate crude oil came to just about 65.23 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, 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 few years, consumption in the United States has increased from 19.1 million barrels per day in 2014 to 19.9 million barrels per day in 2017. 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 12 percent of the world’s oil production volume, oil prices may just continue their rollercoaster ride through the next few years. At an estimated 63.86 U.S. dollars in April 2019, one barrel of WTI crude fell to the lowest level since 2011. In April 2019, the price for a barrel of Brent stood at around 71.23 U.S. dollars, while the price for the OPEC basket grades stood at a little over 70.78 U.S. dollars.

Annual average WTI and Brent crude oil spot prices from 1990 to 2018

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Sources

Release date

May 2019

Region

Worldwide

Survey time period

1990 to 2018

Method of interview

Online survey

Supplementary notes

Values are compiled from several editions of the data report.
All prices are "Free On Board" (FOB) prices originating from Cushing, Oklahoma and the North Sea region, respectively.

According to the EIA, FOB denotes a transaction whereby the seller makes the product available with an agreement on a given port at a given price; it is the responsibility of the buyer to arrange for the transportation and insurance.

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