Crude oil is petroleum that is acquired directly from the ground. Crude oil was formed millions of years ago from the remains of tiny aquatic plants and animals that lived in ancient seas. Ancient societies such as the Persians, 10th century Sumatrans, and pre-Columbian Indians believed that crude oil had medicinal benefits. Around 4,000 BC in Mesopotamia, bitumen, a tarry crude, was used as caulking for ships, as a setting for jewels and mosaics, and as an adhesive to secure weapon handles. The walls of Babylon and the famed pyramids were held together with bitumen, and Egyptians used it for embalming. During the 19th century in America, an oil find was often met with dismay. Pioneers who dug wells to find water or brine, were disappointed when they struck oil. It wasn't until 1854, with the invention of the kerosene lamp, that the first large-scale demand for petroleum emerged. Crude oil is a relatively abundant commodity. The world has produced approximately 650 billion barrels of oil, but another trillion barrels of proved reserves have yet to be extracted. Crude oil was the world's first trillion-dollar industry and accounts for the single largest product in world trade.
Crude Oil futures and options are traded at the CME Group, the ICE Futures Europe, and the JSE Securities Exchange. Futures are also traded at the Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME), the Multi Commodity Exchange of India (MCX), the Thailand Futures Exchange, and the Tokyo Commodity Exchange (TOCOM). The CME trades two main types of crude oil: light sweet crude oil and Brent crude oil. The light sweet futures contract calls for the delivery of 1,000 barrels of crude oil in Cushing, Oklahoma. Light sweet crude is preferred by refiners because of its low sulfur content and relatively high yield of high-value products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, and jet fuel. The Brent blend crude is based on a light, sweet North Sea crude oil. Brent blend crude production is approximately 500,000 barrels per day, and is shipped from Sullom Voe in the Shetland Islands.
Prices - CME West-Texas Intermediate crude oil prices (Barchart.com symbol CL) started 2014 on a weak note as they fell to a 6-month low of $91.24 a barrel in January as U.S. crude output ramped up to a 25-year high of 8.111 million bpd. Crude prices then gained traction and rallied into Q2 when they posted the high for the year at $107.73 a barrel, a 15-month high. Crude found support as crude inventories shrank at Cushing, OK, the delivery point of WTI futures, to a 5-1/3 year low. Chinese demand was robust as well with China Jan-Apr 2014 crude imports up +11.5% yr/yr at 102.61 MMT as China stockpiled crude oil for its strategic petroleum reserve. In addition, supply concerns arose after Islamic militants extended control over northern areas of Iraq, the second-largest producer in OPEC. Crude prices then began a steep decline the second-half of the year on a confluence of bearish factors. Economic concerns arose after the World Bank in June cut its global 2014 GDP forecast to 2.8% from a January estimate of 3.2%. The dollar index soared throughout 2014 to an 8-year high, and militants failed to extend their insurgency to southern Iraq, where 75% of the country's oil output is located. The slide in crude prices picked up steam in November after OPEC failed to cut crude production at its November meeting. U.S. crude production continued to increase to a 40-year high of 9.137 million bpd in December as new oil extraction technologies such as fracking and horizontal drilling boosted output. Crude prices finished 2014 down -46% at $53.27 a barrel.
Supply - World crude oil production in 2013 (latest data) rose +0.1% yr/yr to 76.047 million barrels per day, which was a new record high. The world's largest oil producers in 2013 were Russia (with 13.2%), Saudi Arabia (12.8%), the United States (9.8%), China (5.5%), and Canada (4.1%). U.S. crude oil production in 2013 rose +15.4% yr/yr to 7.478 million barrels per day. Alaskan production in 2013 fell -2.1% yr/yr to 515,000 barrels per day, the lowest level since 1977 and far below the peak level of 2.017 million barrels per day seen in 1988.
Demand - U.S. demand for crude oil in 2013 rose +2.2% yr/yr to 15.321 million barrels per day, which was well below the 2004 record high of 15.475. Most of that demand went for U.S. refinery production of products such as gasoline fuel, diesel fuel, aviation fuel, heating oil, kerosene, asphalt, and lubricants.
Trade - The U.S. is still highly dependent on imports of crude oil to meet its energy needs even though U.S. imports in 2013 fell -9.4% yr/yr to 7.729 million barrels per day, down from the 2005 record high of 10.126.
Articles from the Commodity Research Bureau (CRB) Commodity Yearbook. The single most comprehensive source of commodity and futures market information available, the Yearbook is the book of record of the Commodity Research Bureau, which is, in turn, the organization of record for the commodity industry itself. Its sources - reports from governments, private industries, and trade and industrial associations - are authoritative, and its historical scope is second to none. Additional information can be found at www.crbyearbook.com.