Paper Barrels

Paper barrels are non-physical crude oil. Oil that has been or is about to be produced from an oilfield but has not yet been given a date when it will be loaded onto a tanker can be repeatedly bought and sold "on paper" for short term hedging or speculative purposes. When the oil receives a loading date it is said to have "turned wet" or become a "dated cargo"; it has become physical oil; paper barrels have become wet barrels. The market for physical oil is much smaller than for non-physical oil. Physical oil is bought almost exclusively by companies intending to refine it into oil products.