Below is a crude oil price return calculator for the price return on crude oil between any dates since 1987. This isn’t contract investment return – it doesn’t factor in contango or backwardization, so investor returns will vary compared to price returns. However, you can see price changes in Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Crude Oil as a function of time with daily resolution, and inflation adjustment.
Crude Oil Price Return Calculator
The calculator takes its data for Brent and WTI crude daily prices from the St. Louis Fed’s website. It updates every evening at 12:00 Eastern, so the data you access will generally be a day behind the current market’s close.
- Starting Date – The starting, base crude date. Data starts May 20, 1987. (This may jump for missing data – check after you calculate).
- Ending Date – The ending crude oil date. (This may also be modified by the tool for missing data, check after).
- Total WTI Crude Return – Either be the total price return on a barrel of WTI (West Texas Intermediate) crude or the return adjusted for inflation. The type is noted in the ‘Inflation Adjusted’ field.
- Annualized WTI Crude Return – The above Total WTI Crude return turned into an annual rate of return.
- Total Brent Crude Return – Either be the total price return on a barrel of Brent crude or the same adjusted for inflation. The adjustment type is noted in the ‘Inflation Adjusted’ field.
- Annualized Brent Crude Return – The above Total Brent Crude return converted to an annual rate.
- Inflation Adjusted (CPI-U)? – Indicates whether the last calculation used CPI adjusted values as explained in the Daily Inflation Calculator methodology section.
Methodology for the Crude Oil Price Return Calculator
For the ‘last’ or ‘ending’ date, it will use the ‘last valid’ trading date, but likely won’t adjust the date (you can check the result after a calculation).
The daily inflation methodology hasn’t changed from the daily inflation calculator. Please see the methodology section there.
WTI vs Brent Crude Prices
The de facto benchmark for crude oil prices used to be West Texas Intermediate. However, a number of oil fields in the North Sea source Brent Oil, and it took over contract pricing. Many other forms and qualities of oil and distillates are now based on the Brent contract price combined with some multiple.
I don’t want to pick sides, however – this calculator computes returns for both. To see the decoupling of the major crude benchmarks, here’s a graph of the two from 1986 through Summer 2019 (don’t worry, the data in the tool is fully updated):