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|This article describes a commodity traded on a commodities exchange. View articles referencing this commodity.|
This article describes the specific commodity. For information about oil prices in general, see the article on Oil Prices.
Light Sweet Crude Oil is crude oil with a low wax content (as opposed to heavy crude) and low sulfur content (as opposed to sour crude) making it easy to refine. Generally, people use the shortened terms "light crude" and "sweet crude" to refer to light sweet crude, as this is the crude oil most often refined into gasoline, kerosene, and diesel fuel. Light Sweet Crude is traded on the NYMEX (symbol CL) in US Dollars per barrel.
In common practice, and to distinguish the commodity "light, sweet crude" from the descriptive measure "light, sweet crude" (which may refer to other commodities such as brent crude), the term West Texas Intermediate (a specific type of light, sweet crude) is used when referring to the commodity.
Light Sweet Crude futures are traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange under ticker symbol CL and are delivered every month of the year. (For more information on commodity tickers, check out the commodity ticker construction page.)
Heavy crude oil is typically defined as having a specific gravity greater than .933; however the distinction is often more functional than empirical, with any crude being labeled "heavy" that does not flow as well as its light counterpart.
What makes crude oil "sweet" is a low sulfur content (typically < 0.5%) which results in lower refinery costs and fewer impurities. While this is generally the crude oil refined into gasoline, some refining companies, notably Valero Energy (VLO), have developed refining processes that allow them to refine more challenging, but cheaper, higher-sulfur petroleum.