There has been considerable price volatility in the crude oil market since 1861. At times the yearly variations, as reported by the BP Statistical Review, have been minor but on occasion they have been quite significant. The small and large variations have been matched successfully with a Variable Shape Distribution (VSD) model. Remarkably, the comparison between actual price variations and those calculated by the VSD leads to a coefficient of determination (R2) larger than 0.98. Given this validation, we integrate the results with a Global Energy Market (GEM) model developed in 2007 that presented an oil consumption forecast to 2030. Thus far, the forecast has been in line with actual oil consumption to 2012.

Contrary to statements made by various oil commentators, the integration of results suggests that the possibilities of seeing sudden, large and permanent increases in future oil prices are very low. Given the huge quantities of conventional and unconventional oil available at or below current market prices, society should be able to substitute between alternative sources long before depletion causes oil to become unduly expensive.

Further, a case can be made that with the vast global oil resource base and the significant technological advances being implemented by the industry, oil prices could decrease in the future.

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