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.
In the infographic below, Visual Capitalists Govind Bhutada and Sam Parker put 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).
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:
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.
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.