Home > Economic data > Oil Price – historical data (update)

Oil Price – historical data (update)

The oil price is often in the financial news as a key economic indicator so it is not surprising that many researchers are interested in historical oil price data.

Crude oil is traded worldwide but there is not a single oil price. The Financial Times world markets summary includes two crude oil benchmarks: WTI (West Texas Intermediate) and Brent. Historic data is available for these from several sources. One of the most convenient is Quandl (see Quandl – a search engine for time-series datasets for more information)

The screenshot below shows a oil price chart for “Brent Crude Oil Spot Price, Sullomn Voe, Scotland” from Quandl’s crude oil prices.

Brent crude oil price from  Quandl

Brent crude oil price from Quandl

Historical oil prices are also available from several databases:

Bloomberg Professional has the greatest detail of commodity trading and related news. Most of the trading of oil on financial markets deals with oil future (paying now for oil to be delivered at a specific date in the future) rather than the spot (current) price. Benchmarks include Brent Crude (EUCRBRDT) and WTI (USCRWTIC)

Datastream from Thomson Reuters includes numerous historical time series of oil prices among its commodity category. Benchmarks from Thomson Reuters include Brent (OILBRDT) and WTI (OILWTIN) crude oil.

Global Financial Database (GFD) also have these benchmark oil prices. (GFD) has historical prices for Brent and WTI crude oil (select GFDatabase and series type Commodity Prices). GFD has data for Brent going back to 1957 and WTI going back to 1860.

passport-oil-pricePassport (formerly GMID) from Euromonitor also has crude oil prices for Brent and WTI Cushing. However, these are only annual prices – if you want monthly or daily prices then the databases above are better.

In many circumstances it is acceptable to use any of these sources for historical crude oil prices but your text or references should make your choice clear. If you are getting other research data from Bloomberg or Datastream it makes sense to get your oil prices from the same source.

Oil Price chart from DatastreamThe previous oil price post (January 2011) included this oil price chart showing that Brent and WTI have been almost identical. On closer inspection the two series chosen are from different sources: OILBRNP (Brent) is from ICIS Pricing while OILWTIN (WTI) is from Thomson Reuters themselves.

(There are sometimes small differences in data from alternative sources – which is why Thomson Reuters make these available to their Datastream customers. For researchers the key questions are usually the time-span and frequency of historical data, and whether our Datastream subscription includes access.)

This previous post also prompted comments about getting historical data for TAPIS (Malaysian) crude. This is available on Bloomberg (APCRTAPI) from December 1986 and Datastream (OILTPMY) from January 1991. See https://bizlib247.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/oil-price-historical-data/#comments

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  1. 16 October 2014 at 11:07 am

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