Price Trends for Key Commodities
Following the slump in 2020, raw materials prices rose sharply over the course of 2021. Global oil demand increased significantly again, but supply was only augmented modestly by OPEC+. As a result, the average price for reference Brent crude oil increased to $71 per barrel (2020: $42 per barrel). The price of oil fluctuated over the course of the year between around $55 per barrel in January and around $84 per barrel in October.
Over the course of the year, the average monthly price for the chemical raw material naphtha ranged between $501 per metric ton in January and $764 per metric ton in October. At $635 per metric ton, the annualized average price of naphtha in 2021 was significantly higher than in 2020 ($355 per metric ton).
High demand from Asia, cold weather and low storage levels in Western Europe, as well as a limited supply of liquid natural gas led to sharp increases in gas prices. At $16.02 per mmBtu, the average price of gas on the European spot market in particular was significantly higher than in 2020 ($3.17 per mmBtu). It rose from an average price of $6.56 per mmBtu in the first quarter to $31.92 per mmBtu in the fourth quarter. The average price of gas in the United States was $3.89 per mmBtu, likewise well above the prior-year level ($1.99 per mmBtu). Gas prices in China averaged around $6.72 per mmBtu nationally (2020: $6.29 per mmBtu), while the average price in the coastal provinces was $7.99 per mmBtu (2020: $7.48 per mmBtu).