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Backgrounder: Review of oil price fluctuation in 2008
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09:06, December 17, 2008

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An extraordinary meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will open in western Algerian city of Oran on Wednesday to address the plunging oil prices. The following is a review of the fluctuation of international oil prices so far in 2008.

The oil prices hit 100.09 U.S. dollars per barrel (dpb) on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) on Jan. 3 after crossing the threshold of 100 dpb on the first trading day of 2008. The prices have witnessed a soaring streak since then with the registration of several record highs.

On March 12, crude oil prices went across 110 dpb, as the dollars weakened throughout the day against the euro and prompted traders to buy in the oil market.

On May 5, light sweet crude for June delivery rocketed to 120.36 dpb on the NYMEX, hitting a new intra-day record. The attack by Turkish troops on Kurdish Worker's Party hideouts along the Iraq-Iran border and lasting turbulence in Nigeria were main causes of the price hike.

On June 26, crude futures surged sharply and broke the 140-dollar level for the first time as OPEC predicted oil prices to rise and Libya threatened to cut production.

The oil prices continue to climb to the all-time peak of 147.27dollars on NYMEX on July 11, when fears of supply disruptions due to the tension in Middle East region were mounting.

However, the prices tumbled quickly ever since as the dollars appreciated against major currencies and the global economic downturn has ravaged demand for energy. The prices sank to around 100 dollars in September and further below 50 dollars a barrel in November, declining by more than two-thirds since the mid-July peak.

On Dec. 5, crude oil prices plunged to 40.50 dollars, the lowest in four years, after the U.S. Labor Department reported its unemployment rate rose to a 15-year high of 6.7 percent. The oil prices hovered around 45 dollars in the past week.


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