Members Primers

Chatham House Primer: The Price of Oil

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Chatham House, London


Bob McNally, President, The Rapidan Group; Special Assistant to the President on the National Economic Council (2001-03); Senior Director for International Energy, National Security Council (2003); Author, Crude Volatility: The History and the Future of Boom-Bust Oil Prices


Starting in mid-2014, the price of oil fell nearly 70 percent in 20 months, from $115 a barrel in June, to under $35 at the end of February 2016. This collapse was widely reported in the media and used by many commentators to forecast dire economic consequences. But what does the price of oil mean and does it have any relation to the state of the wider global economy?

The talk will cover:

  • Understanding Brent & WTI: How is the price of oil determined? 
  • Changes in the global hydrocarbon production map
  • The emergence of new supply: Deep sea, tar sands, shale
  • The role of OPEC 
  • Why are oil prices prone to extreme volatility? 
  • Understanding the 2014 oil price crash:  
    • What were the causes?
    • What were the effects on production?
    • How did producers respond?
    • Will the price of oil ever ‘recover’?
    • Why does it matter? The importance of oil in global economics and geopolitics
    • Did the world enter a new oil boom and bust period years before the 2014 price collapse?

About Chatham House Primers
The Chatham House Primer Series is a unique programme of talks designed to bridge the gap between introductory level subject knowledge and a more advanced understanding geared towards practical application, higher-level discussion and policy debate.

With each talk hosted by a leading expert, the Primer series aims to provide the audience with a solid grounding in topics of academic curiosity, key international affairs concepts and the issues behind the news.

This event will be followed by a reception open to all attendees.

Event contact

Members Events Team