How Big is the Market for Crude Oil?
While the global economy relies on many commodities, none come close to the massive scale of the crude oil market.
Besides being the primary energy source for transportation, oil is a key raw material for numerous other industries like plastics, fertilizers, cosmetics, and medicine. As a result, the global physical oil market is astronomical in size and has a significant economic and geopolitical influence, with a few countries dominating global oil production.
The above infographic puts crude oil’s market size into perspective by comparing it to the 10 largest metal markets combined. To calculate market sizes, we used the latest price multiplied by global production in 2022, based on data from TradingEconomics and the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
Note: This analysis focuses on raw and physical materials, excluding derivative markets and alloy materials like steel.
How Big Is the Oil Market?
In 2022, the world produced an average of 80.75 million barrels of oil per day (including condensates). That puts annual crude oil production at around 29.5 billion barrels, with the market size exceeding $2 trillion at current prices.
That figure dwarfs the combined size of the 10 largest metal markets:
|Commodity||2022 Annual Production||Market Size|
|Crude Oil||29.5 billion barrels||$2.1 trillion|
|Iron Ore||2.6 billion tonnes||$283.4 billion|
|Gold||3,100 tonnes||$195.9 billion|
|Copper||22 million tonnes||$183.3 billion|
|Aluminum||69 million tonnes||$152.6 billion|
|Nickel||3.3 million tonnes||$68.8 billion|
|Zinc||13 million tonnes||$30.9 billion|
|Silver||26,000 tonnes||$19.9 billion|
|Molybdenum||250,000 tonnes||$12.9 billion|
|Palladium||210 tonnes||$9.5 billion|
|Lead||4.5 million tonnes||$9.2 billion|
Based on prices as of June 7, 2023.
The combined market size of the top 10 metal markets amounts to $967 billion, less than half that of the oil market. In fact, even if we added all the remaining smaller raw metal markets, the oil market would still be far bigger.
This also reflects the massive scale of global oil consumption annually, with the resource having a ubiquitous presence in our daily lives.
The Big Picture
While the oil market towers over metal markets, it’s important to recognize that this doesn’t downplay the importance of these commodities.
Metals form a critical building block of the global economy, playing a key role in infrastructure, energy technologies, and more. Meanwhile, precious metals like gold and silver serve as important stores of value.
As the world shifts towards a more sustainable future and away from fossil fuels, it’ll be interesting to see how the markets for oil and other commodities evolve.
Ranked: The World’s Top Cobalt Producing Countries
Cobalt, an essential component for certain types of EV batteries, has seen a significant shift in its global production landscape.
Ranked: The World’s Top Cobalt Producing Countries
Cobalt, an essential component of key chemistries of the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in EVs, has seen a significant shift in its global production landscape.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has long been the world’s largest cobalt producer, accounting for 73% of global output in 2022.
However, according to the Cobalt Institute, the DRC’s dominance is projected to decrease to 57% by 2030 as Indonesia ramps up its cobalt production as a byproduct from its rapidly expanding nickel industry.
Indonesia Became Second Largest Cobalt Producer in 2022
Indonesia accounts for nearly 5% of global cobalt production today, surpassing established producers like Australia and the Philippines.
In 2022, Indonesia’s cobalt production surged to almost 9,500 tonnes from 2,700 tonnes in 2021, with the potential to increase production by tenfold by 2030.
|Country||2022 Production (tonnes)||% of Total Production|
|🇵🇬 Papua New Guinea||3,060||1.5%|
Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding.
In total, global cobalt production reached 197,791 tonnes, with the DRC contributing just under 145,000 tonnes of that mix.
The EV industry is the largest consumer of cobalt, accounting for approximately 40% of total demand. The exponential growth of the EV sector is expected to drive a doubling of global cobalt demand by 2030.
While the shift in cobalt production is notable, it is not without challenges. Plummeting cobalt prices, which fell almost 30% this year to $13.90 a pound, have severely impacted the DRC.
Furthermore, the longer-term prospects of cobalt could face hurdles due to efforts to reduce its use in batteries, partly driven by human rights concerns associated with artisanal cobalt mining in the DRC and related child labor and human rights abuses.
In a 2021 ruling by a federal court in Washington, Google parent Alphabet, Apple, Dell, Microsoft, and Tesla were relieved from a class action suit claiming their responsibility for alleged child labor in Congolese cobalt mines.
The Future of Cobalt
Despite ongoing efforts to substitute cobalt in battery applications, cobalt is expected to remain a vital raw material for the entire battery supply chain in the near future.
The demand for cobalt is forecasted to more than double by 2030 to 388,000 tonnes.
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