There are several misunderstandings about what Crude Oil is and about how it is priced, and how WTI and Brent Pricing works.
First what is Brent Crude. Brent Crude is Crude Oil produced in the North Sea in one of 4 separate fields, the first is the original North Sea Brent field, the second is crude oil produced in the North Sea Forties field, the third is crude oil produced in the North Sea Oseberg field, and the forth and final is crude oil produced in the North Sea Ekofisk field. It is not produced in the Middle East or Africa or anywhere else. It is a Light Sweet Crude. Next, what is WTI(West Texas Intermediate). WTI is Crude Oil produced in the Permian Basin and shipped by pipeline to Cushing, Oklahoma. The are many other named crudes. All other crudes are priced based upon how much they differ from one or the other of Brent or WTI crudes.
Now what is Crude Oil. Crude Oil is a mixture of various Hydrocarbon molecules ranging from the Alkanes (like Pentane, Hexane, and Octane), these are the stright or unbranched molecules typically up through C40H82. Diesel has at least 9 Carbon atoms (Nonane), Asphalt has at least 35 Carbon atoms. There are also more complex branched Hydrocarbons present such as Naphthenes, Aromatic Hydrocarbons, and Asphaltenes. There will also be some contaminants such as water, dirt, and metals.
I believe the problems with Bakken Crude are due to the amount of Pentane, and Hexane present, as well as fractionally higher amounts of Isobutane. Pentane (aka"Natural Gasoline" though it has an Octane rating less than 1), behaves much like you would expect given its common name). Bakken Crude just has more of the shorter chain Hydrocarbons and therefor is more volatile than some other Crudes. Eagle Ford with a higher API rating, should be even more volatile. WTI which is produced from conventional wells is specified to be API 38 degrees and should be less volatile. But remember that the Bakken Crude has an average API of 42, but each well, especially given the size of the field will produce Crude Oil with a varying API ratings.
Each refinery will "Post" every day a request for bids to supply a batch of Oil. They will specify the desired API rating, and sulfur content, and a price they are willing to pay. They will also specify how much less they are willing to pay for each tenth of a degree variation from the requested API, and tenth of percent of sulfur, both greater and lesser. typically there are also plateaus were the price change jumps.
If you was to understand how everything works may I suggest you sign up for the RBN Energy Blog, and devote sometime to reading the relevant posts.
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