Oil isn’t Oil: What Are The Different Types of Crude Oil?

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canadian-dollar-oil-priceWhen we watch the TV or read the newspaper we often see something like “OIL IS UP TODAY” but we really don’t know what that means because there are so many different types of crude oil, each with its own price.

Below we briefly explore the 6 oil products that are common to Canadians and Americans and at the bottom of this article we show 60 crude oil types and their prices from around the globe.   You can see that “the price” varies from $75 to $11 per barrel.


What Are The Different Types of Crude Oil?

There are dozens of types of oil but there are 6 that are common to Americans and Canadians in decreasing order of value:

brent-north-sea-oil-rig1: Brent

IMPORTANCE: Brent is the world standard for oil and from an American, Canadian and Mexican perspective, is most often referred to in a “global price for oil” context.  In Europe, Brent is talked about as the generic price of oil.
WHERE IS IT PRODUCED:  North Sea between Scotland and Norway and Canada’s East Coast Hibernia area oil fields
QUALITY: High quality because it is very light and has very low sulfur
PRICE PER BARREL NOV 2018: USD $72

texas-oil2: WTI – West Texas Intermediate

IMPORTANCE: WTI is the price that is discussed most frequently in Canada and United States.  It is always quoted in US dollars, even in Canada.
WHERE IS IT PRODUCED: Texas and in the Gulf of Mexico
QUALITY: WTI is a blend of very light, low sulfur oils so it is considered high quality
PRICE PER BARREL NOV 2018: USD $62

cls-alberta-pumpjack3: CLS – Canadian Light Sweet

IMPORTANCE: CLS is a relatively small product but is a major employer in the western provinces.
WHERE IS IT PRODUCED: Western Canada ‘conventional oil’.  ‘Conventional’ means it is extracted mostly with pump jacks and not mined like the oil sands.  The highest quality CLS is produced in western Saskatchewan.
QUALITY:  CLS is light and sweet so it is.  It can be compared to WTI.
PRICE PER BARREL NOV 2018: USD $35

syncrude4: Syncrude Sweet

IMPORTANCE: The largest segment of the Canadian tar / oil sands
WHERE IS IT PRODUCED: Alberta’s oil ssands
QUALITY: Syncude Sweet is a one of the highest quality oil sands products which still makes it thick and heavy
PRICE PER BARREL NOV 2018: USD $30

wcs-oil-sands-mining5: WCS – Western Canadian Select

IMPORTANCE: 98% of Canada’s ‘proven oil reserves’ are in the oil sands and accounts for a massive 10% of Canada’s Gross Domestic ProductWCS is mostly tar/oil sands oil so it is very thick and expensive to extract and transport.
WHERE IS IT PRODUCED: WCS produces in the Alberta’s and Saskatchewan’s Oil Sands.
QUALITY: WCS is a blend of “conventional” oil, distillate (thinner) but mostly upgraded (thinned) bitumen
PRICE PER BARREL NOV 2018: USD $20

sco-synthenic-crude-oil6: SCO – Synthetic Crude Oil

IMPORTANCE: SCO is critical to Canada as it it the primary output from “upgraders” that process oil sands bitumen into usable ‘oil’.  SCO is very often used as an ingredient in WCS which is generated from other oil sands “upgraders
WHERE IS IT PRODUCED: Alberta’s oil sands
QUALITY:  Far less quality than WTI or CLS, but it is considered a ‘light crude’ so it can easily be transported through pipelines to refineries mostly in Texas and Chicago.
PRICE PER BARREL NOV 2018: USD $14


Why Are There Different Prices For Oil?

Oil is like any other commodity in that the quality dramatically affects the price.  Put simply the thinner the oil, the less processing refineries have to do, the more expensive the crude.  This means that WCS and Bitumen, which are very thick, are not worth near as much as light sweet WTI.

What is Light Crude Oil?

Light crude oil refers to the viscosity or thickness of the oil.  The thinner the oil, the ‘lighter’ it is and the more expensive it is.

global-oil-qualities-brent-wti-mayan-syncrude-wcs

What is Sweet Crude Oil?

When speaking about oil, the word “sweet” indicates the oil has a very low sulfur content.  In the New York Mercantile Exchange oil can be labeled “sweet” if it has less than .42% sulfur.

Are There Any Other Common Classifications for Oil?

Oil is also graded on how ‘toxic’ it is on a four letter scale from A to D.  Class A oil is very thin and light which means it can penetrate animal skin so it is more toxic.  At the other end of the scale is Class D crude oil that is so thick it does not easily dissolve so it is not very toxic.


Oil Prices From Around the Globe on November 8th 2018

Country

Name of Oil

 Price in USD

Malaysia Malaysia Tapis  $                                 75.67
Russia Russia Sokol  $                                 75.48
OPEC OPEC Murban  $                                 74.91
OPEC Arab Light  $                                 73.38
OPEC Bonny Light  $                                 73.29
Russia Russia ESPO  $                                 73.22
OPEC OPEC Girassol  $                                 73.20
OPEC Saharan Blend  $                                 72.64
OPEC OPEC Marine  $                                 72.45
Mexico Mexico Olmeca  $                                 72.39
Nigeria Brass River  $                                 72.38
Nigeria Qua Iboe  $                                 72.38
Europe Weighted Average  $                                 72.34
Australia Australia Cossack  $                                 71.83
OPEC Kuwait Export  $                                 71.82
US Buena Vista  $                                 71.68
OPEC Basrah Light  $                                 71.10
OPEC Es Sider  $                                 70.74
OPEC Iran Heavy  $                                 70.46
Iran Iran Light  $                                 70.04
EU & Canada Brent  $                                 69.39
Mexico Mexico Isthmus  $                                 69.16
Iran Forozan Blend  $                                 68.30
Iran Iran Heavy  $                                 68.14
OPEC OPEC Merey  $                                 67.38
US Midway-Sunset  $                                 67.00
Mexico Mexico Maya  $                                 66.52
Canada Premium Synthetic  $                                 61.77
Canada Heavy Synthetic  $                                 59.42
US Eagle Ford  $                                 58.57
Mexico Mexico Intermediate  $                                 57.25
US Texas Intermediate  $                                 57.25
US J Basin  $                                 57.25
US Texas Intermediate  $                                 57.12
US Texas Sweet  $                                 57.12
US Ford Pipeline  $                                 57.12
US Oklahoma Sweet  $                                 57.12
US Oklahoma Intermediate  $                                 56.75
US Oklahoma Sweet  $                                 56.50
US Ford Condensate  $                                 56.12
US Coast Light  $                                 55.62
US Colorado West  $                                 55.21
US Texas Sour  $                                 54.62
US Texas Sweet  $                                 54.50
US Texas Sour  $                                 52.62
US Texas Sour B  $                                 51.01
US Giddings  $                                 51.00
US Gulf Coast  $                                 51.00
US Texas Light  $                                 51.00
US Texas Heavy  $                                 50.75
Coastal Grade A  $                                 50.25
US South East  $                                 48.75
Canada Sweet Clearbrook  $                                 48.67
US Oklahoma Sour  $                                 47.17
US Gulf Coast  $                                 44.92
Canada Canadian Condensate (not oil)  $                                 43.67
Canada Sour Blend  $                                 41.67
Canada Canada Midale  $                                 37.67
Canada Sweet Premium  $                                 28.67
Canada Sweet Crude  $                                 22.67
Canada Peace Sour  $                                 17.67
Canada Western Canadian Select  $                                 14.17
Canada Central Alberta  $                                 13.67
Canada Hardisty Light – Alberta Oil Sands  $                                 11.67

 


Price Of Oil 2014 to 2018 From Around the Globe

Graphs taken from oilprice.com/oil-price-charts 

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