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Oil and natural gas commodity prices fell in 2015

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The energy component of the widely followed S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI) fell 41% from the start of 2015, a larger decline than the industrial metals, grains, and precious metals components, which declined 24%, 19%, and 11%, respectively, in 2015. Weakness in global economic growth contributed to the overall decline in commodity markets in 2015, but unique supply-side factors within certain commodity markets also affected prices.

Each of the 16 commodities in the S&P GSCI Energy, Grains, Industrial Metals, and Precious Metals indices declined in 2015, with prices of some of the energy commodities falling more than 30%. Nickel, diesel, and crude oil had the largest price declines among the 16 commodities in the four S&P GSCI indices, while lead, corn, precious metals, and gasoline had relatively smaller price declines. Each commodity in the S&P GSCI is reweighted each year based on the commodity's world production and trading volume to measure its relative importance in the global economy.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent, two of the major crude oil benchmarks, account for about 69% of the weighting in the S&P GSCI Energy index. As a result, the energy index tends to follow major price movements in the crude oil market. With sustained, high crude oil production from countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the US, and Russia, global liquid fuel inventories rose significantly in 2015, resulting in crude oil prices falling to 11-year lows in December.

Petroleum-based products such as reformulated gasoline blendstock for oxygenate blending (RBOB), ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD), and gasoil together comprise 27% of the S&P GSCI Energy index. RBOB not only had the lowest price decline of all energy commodities, but it also declined less than many non-energy commodities because of increased gasoline consumption in the United States and in other countries. In contrast, gasoil and ULSD had the largest price declines of the energy commodities as a result of rising U.S. and global distillate inventories along with lower economic growth in emerging markets.Natural gas accounts for the remaining 4% of the S&P GSCI Energy index, and in 2015, natural gas futures prices declined to the lowest level in 16 years in mid-December because of increased production and record-high inventory levels.

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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