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Defending the Price of Oil

Potential surpluses of oil have been around for a very long time; as a consequence, the defense of prices has always required continually renewed vigilance. It is true that there have been short periods of temporary scarcity and, from time to time, fears of an imminent long-run scarcity, as in the 1920s in the United States and again today. But for at least 60 years, the oil industry seems to have been more concerned with maintaining prices against the pressure of surpluses. "Competition" was always the scapegoat, for in spite of the strong monopolistic elements in the organization of the industry, gluts were the direct result of the behavior of oil companies as they competed to discover and control crude oil production and markets.

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Energy Specializations: Petroleum – Markets and Prices for Crude Oil and Products

JEL Codes: Q38: Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation: Government Policy, Q31: Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation: Demand and Supply; Prices, Q41: Energy: Demand and Supply; Prices, Q42: Alternative Energy Sources, Q21: Renewable Resources and Conservation: Demand and Supply; Prices, L71: Mining, Extraction, and Refining: Hydrocarbon Fuels

Keywords: Oil prices and markets, Competition, Oil company behavior, Oil production

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol9-No1-2

Published in Volume 9, Number 1 of the bi-monthly journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.


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