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 last five years, consumption in the United States has increased from 19.2 million barrels per day to 19,396 million barrels per day in 2015. 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 30.32 U.S. dollars in February 2016, one barrel of WTI crude fell to the lowest level since 2011. In March 2017, the price for a barrel of Brent stood at around 49.33 U.S. dollars, while the price for the OPEC basket grades stood at a little over 50.32 U.S. dollars.