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What's Behind the Numbers?

June 24, 2011 - 3:39pm


What's Behind the Numbers?

Among the most visible prices that consumers may see on a daily basis are the ones found on the large signs at the gasoline stations alongside our streets and highways.

The biggest single factor affecting gasoline prices is the cost of crude oil, the main raw material for gasoline production, which accounts for well over half the price of gasoline at the pump.  But what is behind the price of crude oil?

This week the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) launched a new web-based assessment highlighting key factors that can affect crude oil prices called "Energy and Financial Markets: What Drives Crude Oil Prices?"

Understanding oil price movements and their underlying drivers was the impetus in creating this new product. Oil prices have fluctuated a great deal in recent years, reaching over $140 per barrel in the summer of 2008, then falling by about $100 in subsequent months before rebounding. Gasoline prices paid at the pump experienced similar fluctuations during this period.

EIA's traditional coverage of physical fundamentals such as energy consumption, production, inventories, spare capacity and geopolitical risks continues to be essential. This new work builds on that foundation, and adds information and assessments of other influences, such as futures market trading activity, commodity investment, exchange rates, and equity markets as EIA seeks to fully examine energy price movements.

The web product features a dashboard showing recent trends in several of these factors, including both physical fundamental factors and factors dealing with trading and financial markets.

•    Spot prices
•    OPEC production
•    Non-OPEC production
•    OECD consumption
•    Non-OECD consumption
•    Balance
•    Financial markets

Chart data in the new web-based product will be updated monthly and quarterly. Each section of the product also includes a feedback form inviting users to email EIA their comments and insights.  Energy and Financial Markets: What Drives Crude Oil Prices? can be found at: