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It is quite common to classify crude oil into different types or
grades
. The
following classifications are most common.
Light / Heavy
Crude oil can be classified as either
light
or
heavy
depending on its API
gravity (or density). Generally, the higher its API gravity, the lower its
density.
Oil that is lighter in colour, has a thin consistency and flows easily usually
contains less metals and sulphur compounds. It is known as light oil.
Oil that is high in metal and sulphur content is considered low-grade oil.
It generally has too much carbon, not enough hydrogen and is more time-
consuming to produce and hard to refine. It is known as heavy oil.
Sour / Sweet
Crude oil can also be classified as either
sour
or
sweet
, depending on the
amount of sulphur it contains.
Oil with a high sulphur content (0.5% and above, by weight) is considered
sour.
Sweet crude oil, on the other hand, has low amounts of these sulphur
compounds.
Brent Blend
A blend of several crude oils from fields in the North
Sea region, located above Germany and the United
Kingdom. The price of oil produced in Africa, Europe
and the Middle East tends to be based on this oil.
Dubai-Oman
Used as a benchmark for Middle
East sour crude oil flowing to the
Asia-Pacific region.
REFERENCE CRUDE OIL
Some common crude oil types are used as a reference or
benchmark
to determine the value of other crude oils. Some of these reference crude oils are:
West Texas
Intermediate (WTI)
A very high-quality,
sweet, light oil produced in
North America.
Tapis Crude
Oil produced in Malaysia
that is used as a
reference for light oil
from East Asia.
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