feedback | help
BBC News Front Page  |  UK  |  World  |  Fuel Crisis Special Report  
The cost of fuel Intro Production Trading Refining Tax At the pump
Crude oil prices since 1985
Line chart
Crude oil, also known as petroleum, is the world's most actively traded commodity. Physical cargoes are bought and sold all over the world but the largest markets are in London, New York and Singapore.

In the past, Opec - a cartel of some leading producers - has attempted, with varying results, to raise or reduce oil prices by cutting or lifting supplies of crude oil to the market.

In practice, this has often failed as fickle markets caused the attempts to backfire, sometimes spectacularly, or individual producers promised cutbacks but did not implement them. However, the recent oil price rises can be traced back to 1998 when Opec cut output in an attempt to revive prices.