The Physics
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Price of Petroleum (Crude Oil)

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Antell, Gerson, & Walter Harris. Economics. 3rd Edition. New York, NY: Amsco School Publications, 2001: 157. "In the 1970s, OPEC was able to raise the world price in crude oil from $1.40 to $40 a barrel by severely limiting output." $0.25/liter
Fletcher, Sam. Crude Futures Prices Falls to 3-month low. Oil & Gas Journal. 19 May 2005. 22 May 2005. "In London, the July contract for North Sea Brent crude fell by $1.19 to $48.15/ bbl on the International Petroleum Exchange." $0.30/liter
Gladstone, Rick. "Crude Oil Futures surge to over $17/ barrel in reaction to OPEC." Journal Record. 23 December 1986. "Oil prices surged above $17 a barrel Monday in reaction to an agreement by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to limit production in a glutted market." $0.11/liter
Petroleum Facts at a Glance.Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association. May 2005. "Average price for a barrel of OPEC crude oil: $48.58. (04/29/05). (DOE)" $0.31/liter

Crude oil, also known as petroleum, is a naturally occurring thick, dark brown or greenish flammable liquid that is made of organic chemicals. It can be found in large quantities below the surface of the Earth. It's mainly used as fuel and as a raw material for the making of other products that we often use. Petroleum principally consists of various hydrocarbons of the alkane series.

Crude oil is sometimes called "black gold" because of its scarcity on the Earth. It can be used in the manufacture of medicines and fertilizers, plastics, building materials, paints, cloths, and to generate electricity. Since petroleum is so extensively used in most parts of the world, the amount of it available is decreasing very rapidly while its price is increasing in the same way. It is predicted that petroleum will not be the commonly used commercial material by the middle of the 21st century.

According to geologists, crude oil is formed form the decomposition of marine animals and plants. Over many centuries as this organic material is buried under the heavy weight of the material that is deposited on top of it, it undergoes high changes in temperature and pressure. As it undergoes these changes, the organic materials turn into a waxy material known as kerogen and then into what we know to be as crude oil and natural gas. This material flows through the rock, positions itself within the earth according to its density, and forms an oil field. We then drill into the earth in order to pump out the crude oil and put the black gold into use.

Since the availability of crude oil over the past 20 years has declined, the price of it went from being $17/ barrel in 1986 to being $55/barrel in October of 2004.

Olga Strachna -- 2005