Sour Crude

Written By
Paul Tracy
Updated August 5, 2020

What is Sour Crude?

Sour crude is a type of unrefined oil that contains sulfur.  It is difficult to refine and usually fetches a lower price.

How Does Sour Crude Work?

Crude oil is considered sour when it has more than 0.5% sulfur. This and other impurites make sour crude difficult and costly to purify, so it is typically only used to produce diesel fuel rather than gasoline. 

Sour crude oil is usually compared to sweet crude oil which is low in sulfur and other impurities and is easy to refine.

Why Does Sour Crude Matter?

Sour crude is the most common type found in Canada, the U.S., the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico. Sweet crude is the commodity of choice in futures markets.