Light vs Heavy Crude Oil
Light Crude oil is liquid petroleum that has low density and that flows freely at room temperature. It has low viscosity, low specific gravity and high API gravity due to the presence of a high proportion of light hydrocarbon fractions. It generally has a low wax content as well. On the other hand, heavy crude oil or extra heavy crude oil is any type of crude oil which does not flow easily. It is referred to as “heavy” because its density or specific gravity is higher than that of light crude oil. Heavy crude oil has been defined as any liquid petroleum with an API gravity less than 20°. Extra heavy oil is defined with API gravity below 10.0 °API (API gravity, is a measure of how heavy or light a petroleum liquid is compared to water. If its API gravity is greater than 10, it is lighter and floats on water; if less than 10, it is heavier and sinks. )
Light crude oil receives a higher price than heavy crude oil on commodity markets because it produces a higher percentage of gasoline and diesel fuel when converted into products by an oil refinery. Heavy crude oil has more negative impact on the environment than its light counterpart since its refinement requires the use of more advanced techniques an the use of contaminants.
The sweet light crude oil Western Texas Intermediate (WTI) is used as a benchmark in oil pricing.