Definitions, Sources and Explanatory Notes

 Category:   Petroleum Prices
 Topic:   World Crude Oil Prices


Key Terms Definition
API Gravity An arbitrary scale expressing the gravity or density of liquid petroleum products. The measuring scale is calibrated in terms of degrees API; it is calculated as follows:
                Degrees API = (141.5 / (sp. gr. 60ºF / 60ºF)) - 131.5

The higher the API gravity, the lighter the compound. Light crudes generally exceed 38 degrees API and heavy crudes are commonly labeled as all crudes with an API gravity of 22 degrees or below. Intermediate crudes fall in the range of 22 degrees to 38 degrees API gravity.
Barrel A unit of volume equal to 42 U.S. gallons.
Crude Oil A mixture of hydrocarbons that exists in liquid phase in natural underground reservoirs and remains liquid at atmospheric pressure after passing through surface separating facilities. Depending upon the characteristics of the crude stream, it may also include:
  • Small amounts of hydrocarbons that exist in gaseous phase in natural underground reservoirs but are liquid at atmospheric pressure after being recovered from oil well (casinghead) gas in lease separators and are subsequently commingled with the crude stream without being separately measured. Lease condensate recovered as a liquid from natural gas wells in lease or field separation facilities and later mixed into the crude stream is also included;
  • Small amounts of nonhydrocarbons produced with the oil, such as sulfur and various metals;
  • Drip gases, and liquid hydrocarbons produced from tar sands, oil sands, gilsonite, and oil shale.

  • Liquids produced at natural gas processing plants are excluded. Crude oil is refined to produce a wide array of petroleum products, including heating oils; gasoline, diesel and jet fuels; lubricants; asphalt; ethane, propane, and butane; and many other products used for their energy or chemical content.
    F.O.B. (Free on Board) Pertains to a transaction whereby the seller makes the product available within an agreed on period at a given port at a given price; it is the responsibility of the buyer to arrange for the transportation and insurance.
    OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was founded in Baghdad, Iraq, with the signing of an agreement in September 1960 by five countries namely Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. They were to become the Founder Members of the Organization. These countries were later joined by Qatar (1961), Indonesia (1962), Libya (1962), the United Arab Emirates (1967), Algeria (1969), Nigeria (1971), Ecuador (1973), Gabon (1975), Angola (2007), Equatorial Guinea (2017) and Congo (2018). Ecuador suspended its membership in December 1992, rejoined OPEC in October 2007, but decided to withdraw its membership of OPEC effective 1 January 2020. Indonesia suspended its membership in January 2009, reactivated it again in January 2016, but decided to suspend its membership once more at the 171st Meeting of the OPEC Conference on 30 November 2016. Gabon terminated its membership in January 1995. However, it rejoined the Organization in July 2016. Qatar terminated its membership on 1 January 2019.

    For definitions of related energy terms, refer to the EIA Energy Glossary.


    EIA, Office of Energy Markets and End Use, Integrated Energy Statistics Division; Platt's Oilgram Price Report; Petroleum Intelligence Weekly; Oil and Gas Journal; Wall Street Journal; Oil Market Intelligence; Natural Resources Canada; Petroleum Place.

      Explanatory Notes

  • Countries listed under OPEC and non-OPEC are based on current affiliations. OPEC and non-OPEC averages are based on affiliations for the stated period of time which may differ from current affiliations. Indonesia withdrew from OPEC in January 2009, Angola joined OPEC in January 2007, Ecuador withdrew from OPEC in January 1993 and rejoined in November 2007, and Gabon withdrew from OPEC in July 1996.
  • Estimated contract prices based on government-selling prices, netback values, or spot market quotations. All prices are f.o.b. at the foreign port of landing except where noted; 30 day payment plan except where noted.
  • Iraq, Kirkuk 36º is the netback price at the U.S. Gulf.
  • Total OPEC is the netback price at the U.S. Gulf.
  • Total World, United States, OPEC, and Non-OPEC are average prices (f.o.b.) weighted by estimated export volume. For details, see "Calculation of World Oil Price" in the Explanatory Notes of the Weekly Petroleum Status Report.
  • Egypt, Suez Blend 33º is on 60 days credit.
  • Effective with the week ending July 6, 2007, Lloyd Blend crude stream data are no longer available; a similar crude stream Heavy Hardisty has replaced this category.
  • Brunei, Seria Light 37º contract prices are no longer available for use in weekly calculations.
  • Russia, Urals 32º price (f.o.b.) to Mediterranean destinations; also called Urals.
  • United States average price (f.o.b.) is weighted by estimated import volume.
  • The Canadian crude prices have been changed to U.S. dollars.