With the introduction of netback deals negotiated in August 1985, the Saudis abdicated their role as the swing supplier to world oil markets. Their action ended 25 years in which first the international majors and then OPEC had held the line (officially) on crude prices at the expense of downstream margins. In 1986, oil price instability hit new highs, as sellers fought for market share in the absence of a "gatekeeper" on production and a marker crude reference price. Tranquility is not likely to be restored soon.

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