Price of petroleum

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This article is about the price of crude oil. For information about derivative motor fuels, see gasoline and diesel usage and pricing. For detailed history of price movements since 2003, see World oil market chronology from 2003.
Oil prices, 1861–2011 (1861–1944 averaged US crude oil, 1945–1983 Arabian Light, 1984–2011 Brent). Red line adjusted for inflation, blue not adjusted. Due to exchange rate fluctuations, the red line represents the price experience of U.S. consumers only (linear graph).
Long-term oil prices, 1861–2011 (logarithmic graph)
Brent barrel petroleum spot prices since May 1987. Due to exchange rate fluctuations, the real price line is only relevant to the United States and countries with a currency tied to the U.S. dollar at a constant rate throughout the period.
Weekly reports on crude oil inventories or total stockpiles in storage facilities like these tanks have a strong bearing on oil prices

The price of petroleum as quoted in news in North America generally refers to the WTI Cushing Crude Oil Spot Price West Texas Intermediate (WTI), also known as Texas Light Sweet, is a type of crude oil used as a benchmark in oil pricing and the underlying commodity of New York Mercantile Exchange's oil futures contracts. WTI is a light crude oil, lighter than Brent Crude oil. It contains about 0.24% sulfur, rating it a sweet crude, sweeter than Brent. Its properties and production site make it ideal for being refined in the United States, mostly in the Midwest and Gulf Coast regions. WTI has an API gravity of around 39.6 (specific gravity approx. 0.827) per barrel (159 liters) of either WTI/light crude as traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) for delivery at Cushing, Oklahoma, or of Brent as traded on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE, into which the International Petroleum Exchange has been incorporated) for delivery at Sullom Voe. Cushing, Oklahoma, a major oil supply hub connecting oil suppliers to the Gulf Coast, has become the most significant trading hub for crude oil in North America.

The price of a barrel of oil is highly dependent on both its grade, determined by factors such as its specific gravity or API and its sulphur content, and its location. Other important benchmarks include Dubai, Tapis, and the OPEC basket. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) uses the imported refiner acquisition cost, the weighted average cost of all oil imported into the US, as its "world oil price".

The demand for oil is highly dependent on global macroeconomic conditions. According to the International Energy Agency, high oil prices generally have a large negative impact on the global economic growth.[1]

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was formed in 1960[2] to try to counter the oil companies cartel, which had been controlling posted prices since the so-called 1927 Red Line Agreement and 1928 Achnacarry Agreement, and had achieved a high level of price stability until 1972.

The price of oil underwent a significant decrease after the record peak of US$145 it reached in July 2008. On December 23, 2008, WTI crude oil spot price fell to US$30.28 a barrel, the lowest since the financial crisis of 2007–2010 began, and traded at between US$35 a barrel and US$82 a barrel in 2009.[3] On 31 January 2011, the Brent price hit $100 a barrel for the first time since October 2008, on concerns about the political unrest in Egypt.[4]

History[edit]

Price history before 2003[edit]

A low point was reached in January 1999 of US$17 per barrel, after increased oil production from Iraq coincided with the Asian Financial Crisis, which reduced demand. Prices then increased rapidly, more than doubling by September 2000 to $35, then fell until the end of 2001 before steadily increasing, reaching $40–50 by September 2004.[5]

Price history from 2003 onwards[edit]

Further information: 2000s energy crisis

Benchmark pricing[edit]

Main article: Benchmark (crude oil)

After the collapse of the OPEC-administered pricing system in 1985, and a short lived experiment with netback pricing, oil-exporting countries adopted a market-linked pricing mechanism.[6] First adopted by PEMEX in 1986, market-linked pricing received wide acceptance and by 1988 became and still is the main method for pricing crude oil in international trade.[6] The current reference, or pricing markers, are Brent, WTI, and Dubai/Oman.[6]

Market listings[edit]

Main article: Commodity market

Oil is marketed among other products in commodity markets. See above for details. Widely traded oil futures, and related natural gas futures, include:[7]

  • Petroleum
    • Nymex Crude Future
    • Dated Brent Spot
    • WTI Cushing Spot
    • Nymex Heating Oil Future
    • Nymex RBOB Gasoline Future
  • Natural gas
    • Nymex Henry Hub Future
    • Henry Hub Spot
    • New York City Gate Spot

Most of the above oil futures have delivery dates in all 12 months of the year.[8]

Speculation[edit]

Business Week reported (2008-06-27) that the surge in oil prices prior to 2008 had led some commentators to argue that at least some of the rise was due to speculation in the futures markets.[9]

CFTC investigation[edit]

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced "Multiple Energy Market Initiatives" on May 29, 2008. Part 1 is "Expanded International Surveillance Information for Crude Oil Trading." The CFTC announcement stated it has joined with the United Kingdom Financial Services Authority and ICE Futures Europe in order to expand surveillance and information sharing of various futures contracts.[10] This announcement has received wide coverage in the financial press, with speculation about oil futures price manipulation.[11][12][13]

The interim report by the Interagency Task Force, released in July, found that speculation had not caused significant changes in oil prices and that fundamental supply and demand factors provide the best explanation for the crude oil price increases. The report found that the primary reason for the price increases was that the world economy had expanded at its fastest pace in decades, resulting in substantial increases in the demand for oil, while the oil production grew sluggishly, compounded by production shortfalls in oil-exporting countries.

The report stated that as a result of the imbalance and low price elasticity, very large price increases occurred as the market attempted to balance scarce supply against growing demand, particularly in the last three years. The report forecast that this imbalance would persist in the future, leading to continued upward pressure on oil prices, and that large or rapid movements in oil prices are likely to occur even in the absence of activity by speculators. The task force continues to analyze commodity markets and intends to issue further findings later in the year.

Trade currency[edit]

Generally the trade currency for petroleum is the U.S. dollar (sometimes called Petrodollar). However with the blockade of Iran banks, Iran started talks about other currency-for-oil. India is even considering paying for its oil in gold bullion. However, it is more likely that India will pay in rupees. Depending on the sanctions, and increasing pressure in countries like China, which especially wants to pay in Yuan for their investments in Africa (some African countries, are really big exporters, and especially French influence on this continent is being overtaken by Chinese business) may change the main trade currency. Of course it is rather not possible (or fast) to change the currency of main markets, located on the USA ground or others in the Western hemisphere, but increasing demand of the raising markets (e.g. China car users), and possible decreasing usage by Europe, partially USA by artificial ecology laws (like CO2 in Europe, attempts to blockade the number of cars in the Netherlands by high taxes) or economy related shortages (e.g. increasing prices, taxes, lower wages, so called crisis) make the moving of the important point and volume of trade to other markets.[14]

Future projections[edit]

Main articles: Oil depletion and Peak oil

Peak oil is the period when the maximum rate of global petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production enters terminal decline. It relates to a long-term decline in the available supply of petroleum. This, combined with increasing demand, will significantly increase the worldwide prices of petroleum derived products. Most significant will be the availability and price of liquid fuel for transportation.

The US Department of Energy in the Hirsch report indicates that “The problems associated with world oil production peaking will not be temporary, and past “energy crisis” experience will provide relatively little guidance.”[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.iea.org/Textbase/Papers/2004/High_Oil_Prices.pdf
  2. ^ http://www.slate.com/id/2170040/nav/tap3/ , http://wps.aw.com/aw_carltonper_modernio_4/0,9313,1424964-content,00.html
  3. ^ http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/hist/rwtcd.htm
  4. ^ Brent crude oil price hits $100 a barrel
  5. ^ Light Crude Oil (CL, NYMEX): Monthly Price Chart
  6. ^ a b c Mabro, Robert; Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (2006). Oil in the 21st century: issues, challenges and opportunities. Oxford Press. p. 351. ISBN 9780199207381. 
  7. ^ "Bloomberg Energy Prices". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  8. ^ List of Commodity Delivery Dates on Wikinvest
  9. ^ Ed Wallace (June 27, 2008). "Oil Prices Are All Speculation". Business Week. 
  10. ^ "CFTC Announces Multiple Energy Market Initiatives". CFTC. Release: 5503-08. May 29, 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-06-01. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  11. ^ "CFTC in talks to plug the 'London loophole'". The Financial Times. 2008-06-10. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  12. ^ Mufson, Steven (2008-05-30). "Probe of Crude Oil Trading Disclosed". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  13. ^ "Government investigates oil markets". CNN Money. 2008-05-30. Retrieved 2008-06-11. [dead link]
  14. ^ White, Garry (2012-02-12). "Iran presses ahead with dollar attack". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  15. ^ DOE Hirsch Report

External links[edit]