The Price of Oil Quiz


How high did the average price for a barrel of oil get during the oil shock of 2008?

Oil hit an all-time high in July 2008 as the price per barrel soared over $140 for the first time in history.

True or false: Oil prices plummeted 70 percent from mid-2014 to the start of 2016.

Oil prices dropped from around $100 per barrel to roughly $30 per barrel in the 18-month period from mid-2014 to the start of 2016 — a difference of approximately 70 percent.

Which of the following was NOT a factor behind the plummeting price of oil from 2014 to 2016?

The increase in production from the U.S. and other countries combined with a decrease in demand from China led to a massive decline in world oil prices from 2014 to 2016.

When did man first set up a well to drill oil from the earth?

The first oil drilled from the earth came from a 69-foot (21-meter) well in Pennsylvania in 1859, unleashing one of the world's most valuable and highly coveted commodities.

How much did a gallon of oil cost in the mid-19th century as the first wells were being drilled?

When oil was first pulled from the ground, it cost as much as $2 per gallon. That's like paying $1,900 per barrel in today's dollars.

True or false: Oil production quadrupled from 1860 to 1861.

In a single year production quadrupled from half a million to two million barrels, causing the price per barrel to sink from $2 to just 10 cents.

What year did oil prices skyrocket thanks to an Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) embargo?

An OPEC embargo in 1973 caused the price per barrel to rise from $16.81 in January to $33 in December of that year. By the following June oil prices had nearly doubled to $62.71 per barrel.

What happened to oil prices during the Iranian Revolution of 1979?

The Iranian Revolution caused oil prices to rise from $88.35 per barrel in January 1980 to $102.37 by the end of the year.

True or false: Oil prices in the U.S. actually went down during the Gulf War.

The price of oil dropped from $32.74 per barrel when the allies launched their first strikes in January 1991 to $32.01 per barrel when the U.S. held its victory parade in Washington in June 1991.

True or false: The events of 9/11 caused an immediate dramatic escalation in oil prices.

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 caused only a minor increase in oil prices, raising the price per barrel from $104.19 in August to $107.34 in October.

After oil prices hit an all-time high in mid-2008, what happened to prices by the end of the year?

After prices rose above $140 per barrel in the summer, they sank below $40 by the end of 2008 thanks to the global economic crash.

What happened to oil prices from 1920 to 1926 as car ownership increased?

Despite the rising interest in the automobile, oil prices declined 40 percent from 1920 to 1926 thanks to significant production increases in Texas, California and Oklahoma.

True or false: Oil prices picked up starting in 1926 and through the start of the Great Depression.

Decreased demand as the Depression took hold combined with new sources of production in Texas caused oil prices to plummet another 66 percent from 1926 to 1931.

Which organization had primary control of global oil prices from the end of World War II through the 1970s?

The Texas Railroad Commission controlled oil prices using production limits and conservation restrictions. The group finally lifted these restrictions in the 1970s.

What year did OPEC form?

OPEC formed in 1960 and has had a significant influence over global oil prices since then.

Which of the following countries was NOT one of OPEC's founding members?

OPEC consisted of five countries when it formed in 1960: Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela.

What was the average price per barrel of oil in the U.S. from 1869 to 2011?

Despite complaints at the gas pump, the average price per barrel of oil over the last 150 years in the U.S. has hovered around $23.67. Worldwide that figure is slightly higher at $24.58.

How much of the oil imported into the U.S. comes from Libya?

Just 1 percent of U.S. oil imports come from Libya, but the February 2011 Libyan uprising still caused gas prices in the U.S. to rise by 54 cents that month.

What happened to oil prices in the two years following World War II?

From 1945 to 1947 car registrations in the U.S. increased by 22 percent thanks to postwar prosperity. This increase in auto use was partially responsible for the 80 percent increase in crude oil prices during the same two-year period.

A battle over this body of water in the 1950s sent oil prices upward.

Tensions centered around the Suez Canal resulted in a 10 percent decrease in world oil production from 1956 to 1957, which led to an increase in global oil prices.

True or false: Every dollar decline in the price of a barrel of oil results in a $3 billion decrease in Russia's annual export earnings.

Russia is such a major oil producer that even small price drops can vastly affect export earnings.

What is the minimum price of oil where shale producers can break even?

Producers who extract oil from shale via fracking can break even at prices as low as $30 per barrel. That means that as prices rise above that point, there is greater incentive for fracking and shale production.

What was the average price of gas per gallon in mid-2008 in the U.S.?

As world oil prices soared to historic levels, U.S. drivers paid an average of $3.70 per gallon in mid-2008.

True or false: U.S. drivers will drastically change their driving habits based on small changes in gas prices.

In the U.S. demand for gas is fairly inelastic. In fact, it takes a 25 to 50 percent change in gas prices for drivers to change the number of miles they travel by even 1 percent.

How much did the average American household spend on gas in 2015?

The average American household spent just $1,817 on gas in 2015 — the lowest annual gas expenditures in a decade.

Which country has the highest gas prices per gallon?

Norwegian gas drivers pay an average of $9.26 per gallon at the pump. Fortunately, the country also has some of the highest average incomes in the world to help pay for all that gas.

True or false: Oil prices quadrupled between 2002 and 2012.

The quadrupling of oil prices from 2002 to 2012 helped make more expensive means of obtaining oil — like fracking — more viable for oil companies.

What is the name of the major shale formation in North Dakota that has been a hotbed for fracking?

Oil companies extracted more than 1.2 million barrels a day in 2014 from the Bakken formation in North Dakota. This rich supply of oil has helped keep U.S. production high and prices low.

True or false: The fastest growth in oil production in history took place from 2013 to 2014.

The tremendous increase in shale production resulted in the fastest oil-production growth in history in 2013 and 2014. Increasing supplies can serve as protection against price increases.

What is ultimately responsible for oil and gas prices?

Like all commodities, the price of oil and gas is ruled by supply and demand. It is worth only as much as people are willing to pay, and a change in available supplies can dramatically affect price.

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About This Quiz

Thanks to modern man's dependence on oil, even a small change in price can have a significant impact on everything from transportation to manufacturing to peace and stability. Test your knowledge of oil prices past and present with our quiz.

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