Oil Prices and Oil Price Chart.
Oil price is the table. Oil chart and oil price history are available here below.
US crude oil WTI is here. Normally European oil mark Brent is a bit expensive than WTI price. Read more on this below in the article.
The chart shows the current crude oil price. You are able to change time period on the chart (by default it is 15 minutes) and chart type (line, bars, candles, area) is changeable. Timeline uses New York's time.
The Price of Oil Today.
Until recently, there has been no technological capability to ramp up oil production; therefore, in the event of unforeseen or urgent oil demand, the price skyrocketed due to the absence of physical possibility to increase the volume of production quickly. New methods of oil and gas recovery from the interior of the earth became the gamechanger. Penetrating fluid method of oil production became a frequent practice in the USA. The volumes of production of the so-called “shale oil” began to exert significant impact on the volume of supply in the largest oil market - the USA, which affects the entire world oil market.
Shale oil production technologies provide an opportunity to take a break during the production. An oil-producing company may quickly respond to the market behavior: pause its production and promptly resume production on any oil-bearing land. The new technology has an obvious advantage over the traditional one, when it takes years from the time of making a decision for well development to the time of actual oil production from it (preparation for offshore production takes even longer). Therefore, due to technological reasons, it turns out to be impossible to make a pause in oil production. Such inflexibility of traditional oil production technology in the past resulted in shortages of oil, or its oversupply, and, consequently, to spikes in crude oil prices.
The majority of oil-producing companies in the world operates using traditional technology, and currently excess of production over demand is observed. At that, the existing oil storages are on the verge of complete filling, i.e. it is possible to sell the produced oil only by reducing its price. Oil- producing countries relentlessly compete against each other. The cost of oil production in various regions of the world is different. Minimal traditional production costs mount to $10 per barrel of crude oil. The production of shell oil costs $40 on some sites, but on the majority of them the costs range between $50-60 and more. Consequently, if crude oil price falls below the cost of its production, shale oil producers suspend their operations, and they resume their work as soon as the price returns to the acceptable level, and this, in turn, keeps prices down. This new modern reality of oil pricing has not yet been acknowledged by a great many people.
The History of Increase and Decrease in Crude Oil Price.
In January 2016 the USA lifted an oil export ban. It will lead to further increase in the supply of crude oil in the global market. The ban on crude oil exports was introduced in 1973, when the US started to experience acute shortage of crude oil due to the stops in the supplies from the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries placed an embargo on the sales of crude oil to the countries supporting Israel in its war against Egypt and Syria in October, 1973. At the time, the crude oil price for a barrel quadrupled from $3 to 12. Over the next 5 years, the crude oil price went up smoothly to $14.
In 1979-1981, the economies of Western countries were shocked again by the increase in crude oil price. It was triggered by the revolution in Iran in 1979. Then, the price of crude oil increased from $14 to $36, i.e. by a factor of 2.5. $36 in early 1980-s roughly correspond to current $100.
Crude oil in various oilfields is different in quality. It is classified as light and heavy, depending on its sulphur content and density (flow). After World War Two, the major crude oil type was Arab light oil. The prices of other crude oil brands were guided by its price and were traded at a premium or at a discount. In 1980-s, two major crude oil benchmarks of modern world economy were created –American WTI (West Texas Intermediate) and European North Sea Brent. The prices of these benchmarks are determined during the trading at London and New York Stock Exchange (ICE and NYMEX).
Other crude oil brands are traded at a discount or at a premium to these benchmarks, depending on crude oil quality. For example, Russian Urals oil brand is traded at a discount ($2-4 European Brent benchmark, since our domestic crude oil contains more sulphur than Brent, and therefore, its refining is more cost-intensive. The prices of the two world’s major oil benchmarks, Brent and WTI, are also different. For nearly 30 years, since the 1980-s, American light oil WTI brand was more expensive than European Brent. The difference was $2-3. The situation reversed in 2010, when the USA started to produce significant amounts of shale oil. American brand WTI became cheaper than Brent brand, and the USA ended up second in the world in terms of crude oil production (after Russia). At that, in 2011 and 2012, when oil was traded at the level of $100, the difference in the prices of the brands reached the record-breaking $22-23 at its peak.
After the revolution in Iran in 1979, the inflated oil price was maintained at high level by the war between Iran and Iraq, which began in 1980. After the maximum of $36, crude oil price remained above $30 until 1984. In 1985, Saudi Arabia decided to increase its crude oil production in order to recover its market share, which dropped by almost three-fold since the 70-s. During that period, the larger share was serviced by the non-OPEC companies, which were not burdened by the quotas of this cartel. In fact, of all the OPEC countries only Saudi Arabia observed the quota of oil production introduced to maintain high crude oil prices. War-struck Iraq and Iran did not observe the agreements. Over a couple of years, Saudi Arabia brought so much additional crude oil to the market that, by late 1986, crude oil price came crashing down by two-fold, from $30 to $15 per barrel of crude oil.
The next oil market turmoil took place when Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait in 1990. During the war between Iran and Iraq in 1980-1988, Kuwait actively supported Iraq, since Iran planned to expand its Islamic revolution to Kuwait. However, after the war was over, Kuwait refused to forgive the debt and continued to render support to Iraq. In August, 1990, when just in 2 days Iraq took control over Kuw crude oil prices rocketed from $20 to 30, and in October - already to $40 per barrel. However, already by January, 1991, the prices returned to the level of $20, and in February, 1991, Kuwait was completely freed by the coalition of countries led by the USA. The next 6 years passed in a relatively calm atmosphere –crude oil prices were fluctuating in the range of $13-20.
In 1997, financial crisis of Southeast tigers’– South Korea, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and others took place. Because of the fears of economy slowdown, crude oil demand began to decline and subsequently, in late 1998, the prices fell below $10. Such prices were unacceptable for all oil- producing countries. In March, 1999, OPEC countries made commitments to reduce oil production by 16% over the course of one year. The largest non-OPEC producers (Russia, Mexico, Norway and Oman) promised to cooperate with OPEC and to curb oil production. As a result, crude oil prices began to increase and by exceeded the level of $30 by the fall of 2000.
The collapse of the Internet-companies market (dot-coms) in 2000, as well the most powerful terrorist attack on the USA in September, 2001, cooled the growth of oil prices. By late 2001, crude oil prices dropped again to $20 per barrel. By early 2004, after overcoming the crisis developments, the US economy started to grow, and Asia countries, including China, began to demonstrate powerful growth. More crude oil was required to support the growth dynamics. Production was lagging behind the demand. Crude oil price started its epic rise from $30 in the early 2004 to more than $140 in mid 2008. The growth of 3.6 times in 4 years!
Financial crisis in the US mortgage market reached its acute phase in the summer of 2008. Crude oil prices dropped from the maximum of $147 in July to $45 in December, 2008. However, strong demand from China, which continued its high-speed growth, prevented crude oil prices from complete collapse and contributed to the facilitated speedy recovery of raw materials cost to the level of $80 by late 2009. By 2011, crude oil price rose above $100 per barrel again. The USA started to produce more shale oil, the economies of Europe and China began to cool down.
By 2014, the production of crude oil in the global market began to exceed the demand. In, 2014, the decrease in of crude oil prices began, they decreased from $110 in July to $80 in October. In November, 2014, during the OPEC meeting, Saudi Arabia refused to cut its crude oil production, which served as a signal for further speculation for a fall. In January, 2015, crude oil prices dropped to $45.
Oil Price Historical Chart For 1988-2015