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Oil producers market more than 160 unique crude oils today, each varying from light to heavy, with different sulfur levels and other chemical attributes that affect price and market. Only a few individual crudes—particularly Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI)serve as industry benchmarks. The OPEC Reference Basket (ORB) is another common benchmark.

  • The ORB represents a weighted average of prices for the petroleum blends produced by the 14 member states of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The members are: Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. Commonly referenced crudes in the basket include Nigerian Bonny Light, Basra Light (Iraq), and Arab Light (Saudi Arabia).
  • The basket price moves broadly in line with Brent crude prices but is consistently lower than the Brent price point. During the past 12 years, the average difference between ORB and Brent was $3.3/barrel, ranging from -$2.6 in November 2011 to $11.6 in June 2008. In 2018, the difference started to increase after a sharp decline in 2017.
  • Composed of light and heavy crude oils, the OPEC Basket is on average not as "sweet" (depending on sulfur content) or "light" as Brent and WTI crude oils, which explains some of the price differential. 
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