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Thursday, January 10, 2013

EIA: Average 2012 Crude Oil Prices Remain Near 2011 Levels

Average crude oil prices in 2012 were at historically high levels for the second year in a row. Brent crude oil averaged $111.67 per barrel, slightly above the 2011 average of $111.26. West Texas Intermediate oil averaged $94.05 per barrel in 2012, down slightly from $94.88 in 2011.

The differential between Brent and WTI spot prices historically was just a few dollars per barrel in either direction. In 2011, the Brent premium over WTI averaged $16.38 per barrel; however, in 2012 this premium widened to $17.61 per barrel.

graph of average spot prices, as described in the article text

graph of daily spot prices, as described in the article text

The significant events in 2012 include:

* U.S. crude oil production rose by an estimated 780,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2012, the largest yearly increase to date.

* The surge in crude oil production led to crude oil stocks held in land-locked Cushing, Oklahoma, which is a major pricing point for crude oil, that resulted in record-high end of month stock levels from April through December.

* The United States remained a significant net oil importer when levels of crude oil and petroleum products are added together.

* After Brent fell below $90/bbl in late June and WTI dropped below $80/bbl, prices rebounded in July on expectations that policymakers in the United States, Europe, and China would take action to stimulate economic growth, which could increase oil demand. * Disruptions in oil production in South Sudan, Yemen, Syria, and the North Sea reduced available global supplies, putting upward pressure on oil prices.

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