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Oil and gasoline prices - statistics & facts

Like all commodities, crude oil prices are determined by supply and demand, geopolitical events, and the state of the economy as a whole. Oil and its derivatives have a wide array of uses as transportation fuels, synthetic materials such as plastics, and as a source of energy generation. On a macro level, crude oil prices thus shape manufacturing and production costs; while on a micro level, consumers may see its impact through retail price fluctuations of motor fuels like gasoline. The most important benchmarks used as reference for traders include Brent, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), and the OPEC basket.

Highs and lows of oil prices in the past decade

In the past decade, oil prices have been particularly volatile. Following the Great Recession, production caps by the largest oil producing body, OPEC, saw prices climb to historic highs. The OPEC reference basket reached an annual average of 109.45 U.S. dollars per barrel in 2012, while Brent crude climbed to 111.63 U.S. dollars. This surge in prices incentivized North American oil and gas producers to reinforce hitherto unprofitable extraction methods for shale oil and oil sands, which contributed to the oil glut of 2016. That year, benchmarks fell below an annual average of 45 U.S. dollars per barrel. The following three years had seen prices initially recover, with the Russian oil marker Urals crude reaching nearly 80 U.S. dollars per barrel in October 2018. However, the 2020 coronavirus pandemic and resulting mobility restrictions had dire effects on the industry. April 2020 recorded some of the lowest ever closing prices for crude oils, with WTI even trading at negative prices for some time.

Gasoline prices around the world

The effects of the 2020 oil crisis also resulted in gasoline fuel prices falling around the world. The average retail price of gasoline in the United States decreased by over 40 U.S. cents between 2019 and 2020, before climbing to a seven-year high in 2021. Meanwhile, Japan’s gasoline retail prices fell by nearly 30 Japanese yen within the span of five months, whereas average petrol prices in Nigeria began surpassing pre-pandemic levels in August 2020 and have since stayed above 160 Naira per liter.

Russia-Ukraine war and its impact on fuel prices

Two years into the coronavirus pandemic, an increase in economic activity and the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war has led to benchmarks surging to highs not seen since 2008. In the week of March 7, 2022, weekly crude oil prices surged to over 120 U.S. per barrel, with traders expecting severe bottlenecks following sanctions on Russian oil and gas exports. Although prices slightly dropped again the following week, prices are expected to remain especially variable due to the dynamic developments in Ukraine.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 29 most important statistics relating to "Oil and gasoline prices".


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