Difference Between Brent Crude and WTI

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Difference Between Brent Crude and WTI


  • President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. would ban the import of all Russian oil, gas and energy, in retaliation for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • In this context it is important to know the fundamental differences in the types of oil.


  • The most heavily traded grades are Brent North Sea crude (commonly known as “Brent crude”) and West Texas Intermediate(commonly known as “WTI”). Brent is oil that is produced in the Brent oil fields and other sites in the North Sea.
  • Brent crude’s price is the benchmark for African, European, and Middle Eastern crude oil. The pricing mechanism for Brent dictates the value of roughly two-thirds of the world’s crude oil production.
  • The percentage of sulfur in crude oil determines the amount of processing needed to refine the oil into energy products. “Sweet crude” is crude oil that has less than 1% sulfur.
  • The sulfur content of both Brent and WTI is well under 1%, making them both “sweet.” These types are also less dense (“lighter”) than many of the crude oils extracted elsewhere. Both of these characteristics make them easier to refine and more attractive to petroleum product producers.
  • WTI is the benchmark crude for North America. 
  • Brent crude oil futures trade on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).
  • Brent crude is traded internationally, so the delivery locations will vary by country.

Factors affecting:

  • Brent and WTI crude have different properties, which result in a price differential called a “quality spread.”
  • They are also located in different parts of the world (Brent in Europe, and WTI in North America). This is referred to as a “location spread.”