BASF Report 2023

Price Trends for Key Commodities

Demand for oil increased by 2% in 2023, remaining slightly below the growth rate of global GDP. The main driver of the additional demand was China, which accounted for almost half of the growth in demand. Demand from the transportation sector increased sharply after the end of the zero-COVID policy. Furthermore, Chinese oil reserves increased considerably compared with the previous year.

There were contrasting developments on the supply side of the oil market: While the OPEC countries, including Saudi Arabia in particular, reduced their production in order to stabilize the oil price in the weak economic environment, production in the United States increased considerably. Despite the sanctions against Russia, the Russian oil supply remained largely unchanged. As a result, the oil price fell from $101 per barrel of Brent crude in 2022 to $82 per barrel in 2023. The price of oil fluctuated over the course of the year between $75 per barrel in June and $94 per barrel in September. Over the course of the year, the average monthly price for the chemical raw material naphtha ranged between $550 per metric ton in June and $719 per metric ton in February. At $643 per metric ton, the annualized average price of naphtha in 2023 was around 16% lower than in 2022 ($770 per metric ton).

The price of gas in Northwestern Europe fell considerably in 2023 to around one-third of the prior-year level, as gas consumption declined considerably due to savings made by private households, industry and commerce, combined with lower demand in industry and exceptionally high average temperatures. At the same time, the infrastructure for the supply of liquid gas was expanded in Northwestern Europe. Gas storage levels were therefore above their respective seasonal long-term averages throughout the year. The average gas price in Northwestern Europe in 2023 was €40.52 per MWh ($12.83 per mmBtu). In the previous year, it averaged €124.16 per MWh ($38.01 per mmBtu) due to the abrupt interruption in pipeline supplies from Russia. Fluctuations in the price of gas were also considerably lower than in the previous year. The highest monthly average was reached in January at €62.82 per MWh ($19.83 per mmBtu), while the lowest was recorded in July at €29.37 per MWh ($9.52 per mmBtu).

The average price of gas in the United States was $2.54 per mmBtu, likewise considerably below the prior-year level ($6.36 per mmBtu). Gas prices in China averaged around $12.77 per mmBtu nationally (2022: $12.21 per mmBtu).

Price trends for crude oil (Brent) and naphtha

$/barrel, $/metric ton

Price trends for crude oil (Brent) and naphtha (line chart)

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