It is named after a bird because of a policy of Shell UK Exploration which developed fields in this region.
Brent crude – also referred to as Brent blend – is one of 3 major oil benchmarks used by those trading oil contracts, futures and derivatives.
The other 2 major benchmarks are West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Dubai/Oman, though there are many smaller oil varieties traded as well.
Brent crude is the most traded of all of the oil benchmarks, and is defined as crude mostly drilled from the North Sea oilfields: Brent, Forties, Oseberg and Ekofisk (collectively known as BFOE).
The Brent crude futures contract was introduced in 1988, when output from the North Sea fields was on the rise.
It has gained global coverage ever since.
Today, oil from the Brent field, located between Scotland and Norway, represents less than 0.1% of the global supply and traders consider adding other oils from locations outside Europe.
This oil type is widely used as it is both sweet and light, making it easy to refine into diesel fuel and gasoline.
That, and its relative ease of transporting being produced at sea, make it so widely traded.
Brent's strengths have made it the leading crude index, widely perceived as the most accurate barometer of oil prices globally.
However, it faces its own challenges, key amongst them being declining production threatening liquidity.
It also faces overseas competition from a resurgent WTI, and from the Shanghai International Energy Exchange, whose growth is inexorably tied to China's ascendancy in the market.
Brent remains the world's leading global crude benchmark for the present - but it must continue to adapt.
Brent crude’s status as the global oil-price standard is probably secure through the medium term, as there are no obvious candidates to replace it.
What happens beyond then is an open question.
Its the most widely used benchmark, is historically based on oil extracted from British and Norwegian fields in the North Sea