Historically, world oil prices were low and stable in the 1950s and 1960s, driven by new discoveries in the Middle East, the North Sea, Alaska, and Nigeria. Cheap oil thus contributed to strong worldwide economic growth, which in turn stimulated greater consumption. With the first oil shock in 1973, prices increased fourfold, and in 1979, prices increased by another threefold. Prices thereafter declined haltingly and gradually until 1986 and then collapsed until late 1992. From 1992 to the beginning of 2007, oil prices increased fivefold.
Future projections of world oil prices, in constant 2006 dollars, have been projected by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) to decline from $68 per barrel in 2006 to $49 per barrel in 2014, then rise to $59 per barrel in 2030 ($95 per barrel on a nominal, noninflation-adjusted basis). The EIA lowand high-price cases suggest great uncertainties in the reference case projections, however. In the low-price case, world oil prices are projected to be $36 per barrel in 2030 ($58 per barrel on a nominal basis), while in the high-price case, oil prices are estimated to be $100 per barrel in 2030 ($157 per barrel on a nominal basis).