How oil prices surged from $2 to $100 per barrel in 40 years

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Oil soared back above $100 per barrel on Monday, crossing the crucial barrier for the first time in more than two years, as traders fretted over the impact of Egyptian unrest on global crude supplies.

Here is a list of key developments over the past 40 years, during which time prices faced a dizzying rollercoaster ride from $2 to almost $150 per barrel.

- 1970: The official price of Saudi crude oil is fixed at 1.80 dollars per barrel.

- 1974: Prices pass 10 dollars per barrel after the first oil shock, sparked by the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

- 1979: The Islamic revolution in Iran causes a new oil shock and prices top 20 dollars.

- 1980: The barrel surpasses 30 dollars and hits 39 dollars in early 1981 at the height of the Iran-Iraq war.

- Sept-Oct 1990: Iraq invades Kuwait and prices rise above 40 dollars per barrel.

- Aug 2005: Prices rise above 70 dollars as Hurricane Katrina hits the Gulf of Mexico, damaging major offshore oil installations.

- Jan 2, 2008: Prices hit 100 dollars for the first time in history, amid deepening concerns over violence in Nigeria, instability in Pakistan and supply problems in the key US market.

- March 13, 2008: Light sweet crude closes above 110 dollars a barrel amid fevered speculation over the weakening dollar and China's and India's ever-increasing demand.

- May-June 2008: In the space of two months, prices surge past $120, $130 and $140 per barrel, aided by a brighter US economic outlook, falling US energy inventories and increasing Chinese demand.

- June 6, 2008: Light sweet crude soars by $10.75 a barrel -- its biggest one-day jump ever -- rocketing as high as $139.12 amid fresh concerns of an Israeli attack on Iran.

- July 11, 2008: Oil spikes to a new record high points at $147.50 per barrel in London and $147.27 in New York.

The market is also propelled by mounting geopolitical fears in Iran and Nigeria, the weak dollar and speculative buying.

- July-Dec 2008: Prices slump dramatically back under $100 in a brutal price correction, as a sharp worldwide economic downturn -- rooted in the global financial crisis -- ravages demand for energy.

- 19 December, 2008: New York crude tumbles to $32.40, striking its lowest point for almost five years, in the wake of the collapse of US investment bank Lehman Brothers earlier that year.

New York-based Lehman, a former darling of Wall Street, was forced to declare bankruptcy in September 2008 due an acute lack of cash as the global financial crisis erupted, leading to a meltdown in the US economy.

- January-June 2009: Oil prices climb steadily, reaching $60 by May and $70 by June, as traders take heart from increasing signs of global economic recovery.

- December 2009: The market ends the year with an impressive annual gain of more than 70 percent, helped by hopes of recovering world energy demand.

- 2010: Oil continues to advance on the back of the fragile global economic recovery, gradually rising to finish the year at about $93 in London and almost $90 in New York.

Investors are comforted by news that the eurozone, Britain, Japan and the United States have escaped a fierce recession.

- January 2011: Oil rises as a pipeline spanning Alaska, which carries an estimated 12 percent of US crude output, is temporarily shut to a leak.

- January 31, 2011: London Brent oil surges back above $100 for the first time since October 2008, to reach a fresh two-year pinnacle above $101 per barrel, as traders fret over the impact of violent unrest in Egypt.

Market concerns are driven by fears that Egyptian turmoil could disrupt the flow of oil through the Suez Canal to the West.

However, the market remains far below record highs of above $147 that were hit in July 2008.

© 2011 AFP

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