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WTI and Brent crude oil's average annual spot prices 1990-2020

The average spot price for West Texas Intermediate crude oil came to 39.16 U.S. dollars per barrel in 2020. This was roughly 15 U.S. dollars lower than the average 2019 spot price and linked to lower consumer demand following travel restraints implemented by governments around the world as a safety measure against the coronavirus pandemic. The 2020 average spot price for Brent crude oil was 41.96 U.S. dollars. Both Brent and WTI are light crude oils, with the first used as a benchmark for gasoline prices around the world.

Spot prices vs. future prices

Spot prices refer to current market prices under which a commodity such as one barrel of crude oil may be bought for immediate delivery. They are opposed to future prices, which refer to settlement and delivery at a later date. As a major refinery and storage hub, Chushing in Oklahoma is the delivery location for WTI traded via the New York Mercantile Exchange. When storage capacities threatened to reach their maximum capacity in April 2020, the WTI oil price crashed as a result, trading at record low prices. The WTI oil price fell into negative numbers for the first time in its history, closing out at negative 37.63 U.S. dollars per barrel on April 20th. The lowest value for Brent prices was 19.33 U.S. dollars per barrel.

Since late 2020, future oil prices have traded above 50 U.S. dollars buoyed by the roll-out of coronavirus vaccines and announced production cuts by Saudi Arabia for February and March.

Annual average WTI and Brent crude oil spot prices from 1990 to 2020

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Sources

Release date

January 2021

Region

Worldwide

Survey time period

1990 to 2020

Method of interview

Online survey

Supplementary notes

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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