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Oil Prices

Published Friday, February 19, 2016

This Commons briefing paper sets out a review of oil price trends and an outlook for oil prices to 2040.

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Oil prices

This Commons briefing paper sets out a review of oil price trends and an outlook for oil prices to 2040.

Oil price trends

Oil prices peaked at almost $150 Dollars a barrel in July 2008 and fell sharply in the second half of 2008 as the global financial crisis hit.

Prices increased after that despite a fairly weak global economy. Political unrest across the Middle East and the revolt in Libya contributed to further price rises in early 2011. Subsequent prices in 2011 and 2012 were volatile; falling amid concerns about the world economy and going up as tension between Iran and the West increases.

Prices were less volatile in 2013 but the average was close to the near record levels seen in the previous two years. Some commentators have said that quantitative easing has contributed to the underlying price increases.

However since June 2014 Prices have fallen rapidly reaching around $65 per barrel by December 2014 Prices continued to fall during 2015. The latest Brent price is around $40 per barrel.[1] This is $110 below the peak.

Oil price outlook

The International Energy Agency’s Current Policies projections put the price of oil at almost $150 per barrel in 2040.

Oil price notes

This note provides annual, monthly and daily data for Brent crude oil prices.

Most oil prices are quoted in cash terms (not inflation adjusted) even in relatively long time series. This generally means that when prices are compared over time increases are overstated and price falls understated. This is much less of a problem over short periods, especially as the price of oil has an important impact on underlying inflation. However, when prices are being compared over a number of decades and direct comparisons are being made then a series using real prices gives a more meaningful picture. The daily prices in this note are given in cash terms, the monthly and annual data are presented in both real and cash terms.

Data and charts on oil prices can be downloaded/viewed at:

[1]     At 7 March 2016




Commons Briefing papers SN02106

Authors: David Hough; Cassie Barton

Topics: Energy, Iraq, Oil, petrol and natural gas, Roads

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