Discover WTI: A global benchmark

CME Group


The information in the market commentaries have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but we do not guarantee its accuracy and expressly disclaim all liability. Neither the information nor any opinions expressed therein constitutes a solicitation of the purchase or sale of any futures or options contracts. The information on this site compiled by CME Group is for general purposes only. All information and data herein is provided as-is. CME Group assumes no responsibility for any errors or omissions. CME Group, its affiliates and any third party information and content providers expressly disclaim all liability with respect to the information and data contained herein including without limitation, any liability with respect to the accuracy or completeness of any data. You use the data herein solely at your own risk. All data and information provided herein is not intended for trading purposes or for trading advice.

CME Group, the Globe Logo, Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc., Globex and CME are trademarks of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. CBOT is the trademark of the Board of Trade of the City of Chicago, Inc. NYMEX is the trademark of the New York Mercantile Exchange, Inc. COMEX is a trademark of Commodity Exchange, Inc. All other marks are held by their respective owners.

Copyright © 2023 CME Group. All rights reserved.

WTI: A global benchmark

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) is a U.S. blend of several streams of domestic light sweet crude oil. The delivery point is located in Cushing, Oklahoma which is home to 90 million barrels of storage capacity. It is a crucial hub where extensive infrastructure exists and serves as a vibrant trading hub for refiners and suppliers.1

The importance of crude markets

The rise in importance of the U.S. crude market comes at a challenging time for other crude oil markets globally.  The catalyst for this transformation was the sharp rise in U.S. oil production, and the lifting of the export ban on U.S. crude that occurred at the end of 2015. 

Infrastructure changes in the United States have become so prevalent that they are likely to have a transformational impact on the region for years to come. Investment in the U.S. Gulf Coast has transformed WTI into a waterborne crude, with extensive export capacity. The Seaway Pipeline links Cushing, Oklahoma to the Houston, Texas export market, with 850,000 barrels per day capacity. The Transcanada Marketlink Pipeline provides additional capacity of 700,000 barrels per day from Cushing to Houston.  Further, the Magellan, BridgeTex and Longhorn Pipelines carry up to 475,000 barrels per day from Midland, Texas to Houston. The Houston market has become export-focused, with a terminal network with extensive storage capacity of 65 million barrels, and an additional 20 million barrels of storage capacity projected to come into service in 2017.2

Moreover, a number of new terminals are in the process of being built along the U.S. Gulf Coast to handle the rising number of ships arriving to load crude oil destined for the international markets.

The role of WTI

As U.S. production has risen substantially, the role that WTI is likely to play in terms of being the marginal supplier of oil is going to increase significantly and the global markets are likely to adopt WTI pricing into their crude oil trading. Lifting the U.S. export ban has significantly impacted global oil flows and will lead to greater market efficiencies as companies look to gain arbitrage opportunities with the improved logistics of free trade.  As a result, WTI is able to compete directly in the global marketplace and has become the price discovery leader in the crude oil market.


CME Group offers Crude Oil futures and options products to allow producers, refiners, consumers, importers and exporters to hedge their risk. WTI Crude Oil futures is a physically-delivered contract based on 1,000 barrels. It is priced in U.S dollars per barrel and traded electronically on CME Globex and cleared via CME ClearPort. 

Visit the Futures Research Center to explore market data and trading insights.



What to read next...

Discover the characteristics of a futures contract, and how they provide confidence to both buyers and sellers.

What is settlement? Depending on the needs of the traders and the product being traded, it could mean something different.

In this video, you will learn how precious metals have been used as a storage of value throughout history.

Looking to expand your financial knowledge?