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.
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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