ncreases rapidly, the world’s oil total consumption increases constantly. Thus it can be seen that the economic diversification in OPEC countries has a significant impact on the supply and demand structure of international crude oil and an indirect impact on the trend of international oil price.
2) The supply and demand fluctuation of international oil would affect directly the change of international oil price. According to the economic theory, demand is one of the basic factors that affect the international price, thus, the fast-growing oil demand would cause the increase of oil price inevitably. While reviewing the several big fluctuations and increase of international oil price in the history, among that it is easy to see the important role the change of oil demand played. Before the outbreak of financial crisis, the global economy began to show the recovery growth since 2002, and in 2003 showed a rapid development trend, above all the development scale of traditional manufacturing industries expanded ceaselessly in newly industrialized countries, as is mentioned above, because of the adjustment of economic structure, the oil consumption in traditional oil exporting countries had increased, the global oil demand and consumption also had a big increase and the increase rate was far greater than that of oil supply, which caused the oil supply was more and more serious. The global economy suffered a financial crisis in the second half of the year 2008 and its development sank into stagnation, and even retrogression, under this influence, the global oil demand and consumption fell sharply and even the international oil price plummeted. For these reasons, the change of international oil demand should be considered as one of the direct factors that affect the fluctuation of international oil price.
3) Change of the crude oil inventories in all countries. Petroleum inventories include conventional inventory and unconventional inventory. Conventional inventory refers to the inventory, which can guarantee the world’s petroleum production, processing and supply system normal running. And unconventional inventory refers to the commercial inventory, which is mastered by the transnational oil companies. Although the conventional inventory occupies above 80% of the global crude oil total inventory, the impact of which is far smaller than the impact of unconventional inventory on the international oil price. In the long run, as the buffering between oil supply and demand, oil inventories in all countries play a stable role on international oil price. Normally when the oil price is low, all countries increase its oil inventories generally in order to push the oil price upward; in contrast, sell the oil in store when the oil price is high, in order to push the oil price down. In the short term, oil inventory plays an important role on the fluctuation of international oil price. The oil in store is often purchased in quantity when the international oil rises, which pushes the international oil upward in a short time; the reverse is possible. Thus it can be seen that the oil inventory has a very complicated impact on the international oil price, it cannot be judged according to the same standard.
3.2. Influence of Dollar Exchange Rate Fluctuation
From 1974 on, dollar linked officially with oil and the most international oil trades is invoiced, delivered and settled in US dollar, thus, the fluctuation of dollar exchange rate not only has a direct impact on the stability of world’s economy and international oil price in petroleum industry, but also an important impact on the oil policies in oil exporting countries and oil consumption countries and the exploration and development of world’s oil. US dollar devaluation causes inevitably the rising international oil price; US appreciation brings about a drop in international oil price. On one hand, US dollar devaluation causes the actual purchasing power of oil dollar benefit of OPEC reduces greatly in the international market, thus to deal with such an emergency, the OPEC has to raise the price for losses reduction; on the other hand, US dollar devaluation improves greatly the purchasing power of other currencies, increases the attraction of crude oil futures, which exists as an investment product, to the investors in non-dollar areas, however, buying oil futures in large quantity would result in a rapid rising in international crude oil price. The quantitative analysis of the factors that affect the international oil price, which conducted by Cheng Wei-li indicates that, both in the long term and the short term, the fluctuation of dollar exchange rate would affect the international oil price, in the long run, with each increase of dollar exchange rate by 1% drops the oil price by 3.06%; in the short run, with each increase of dollar exchange rate by 1% drops the international oil price by 1.82%.
The most oil exporting countries regard dollar as the settlement currency of crude oil export, while pay the importing goods from Europe in euro, the change of exchange rate between dollar and euro causes directly that the exporting cost in major oil producing countries increases, thereby causes indirectly the aggravation of domestic inflationary. Therefore, many experts indicate that dollar devaluation is the proximate cause of the continuous rising of international oil price, of which the dollareuro exchange rate weakness is the major cause .
Within the US, because the big dollar devaluation can ease the US government’s debt crisis effectively, cut the whopping budget deficit, fit the import of foreign goods while driving the American export effectively, from the end of 2001, the exchange rate of dollar against the western major currencies dropped by more than 15%, at the same time the international oil price rose nearly five times. In 2007 a year, the exchange rate of dollar to euro dropped more than 10%, the international crude oil price at the same time rose by above 60%. Thus it can be seen that dollar devaluation plays an important role on the spurt in international oil price at that time. The whopping financial and trade deficit after the financial crisis, with that the US is faced, can not be changed qualitatively in the short term, so it is predicted that in the next period the dollar exchange rate will remain in the doldrums for a long time and the international oil price will also hover in the high.
3.3. Geopolitical Instability
Since the current proven reserves of petroleum concentrate in the so called “Heart of the world’s supply”, the oil-rich areas, from Maghreb to the Persian Gulf, to the Caspian Sea, extending to the Transcaucasia, Siberia, and the reserves of which occupies 65% of the global oil reserves, the stability problem in oil producing areas affects directly the supply in the international oil market, thereby indirectly the international oil price. By reviewing the fluctuation path of the international oil price since the last century, it is not hard to see that the trend of international oil price links always closely with the political situation in the oil producing areas. Currently the geopolitical risk exists still in the Middle East and other oil producing areas, for example, as the fourth oil exporting country in the world, Iran possesses 18.9 billion tons oil proven reserves, which occupies 11.4% of the world’s, reserve and production ratio is 86.7, the daily oil production is 4000 thousand barrels, the yearly oil export is about 120 million tons, however, its nuclear project remains still in suspense , add to that the relation between Iran and the western especially America remains always in the tension state, so the nuclear issue is always a serious and unstable factor for the current international oil market, the longer time it take to solve the Iranian nuclear issue, the greater impact on the international oil price. Besides, Turkish troops crossed the border and attacked the PKK forces in northern Iraq, which threatens the oil production and exporting in Iraq, the oil disputation between Russia and Belarus, the Venezuela’s uncooperative attitude to the American oil supply, and in the Africa’s major oil-producing country Nigeria, the incidents that the petroleum installations and oil workers were attacked happened for many times, all these aggravate the concern of the crude oil supply. It is widely believed by the analyst that in the future he international oil market will become more and more sensitive to the geopolitical risk.
3.4. The Opportunistic Practices in the Futures Market
The spot oil price in the current international oil market is not directly decided by the supply and demand sides, the two sides confirm normally some kind of valuation formula while concluding and signing the supply contracts and the benchmark price of this valuation formula links generally directly with the oil price in the oil futures market, thus, price of the international oil futures affects the spot oil price to a great degree and is considered as the pointer of the spot oil price, this unique oil price formulation mechanism decides that the oil price would be affected inevitably by the opportunistic factors of futures market. Since November, 2003, the long opportunistic trades in the NYMEX are always bigger than the short, the speculative factors aggravate the growth of oil price. The report of CFTC on 7th, October, 2004 indicated that since the middle of September, the net-long position had increased by 24,000, which was in accordance with the growth of oil price, this suggests that the role, played by the opportunistic factors in the futures market, on driving the growth of oil price can not be underestimated .
Thus, the oil speculative practices have been one of the important factors to the instability of international oil market and aggravated the turmoil in the international oil market. With the gradual growth of international oil price, the huge international capital enter into the trading market of crude oil futures, the investment organizations hype expectedly the oil futures through imbalance between supply and demand or by utilizing the asymmetric of the market information purchase the oil futures contracts in quantity yet without real possession of oil, which creates the whopping virtual oil demand. The research of OPEC indicates that the global current daily consumption of crude oil is about 87 million barrels, however, the trading volume of financial products related with petroleum is up to 1.36 billion barrels. With the double growth of the oil demand in the futures market, the oil price in the futures market would rise inevitably. Therefore, the speculative practices in the international oil futures market are often the perpetrators who control the big fluctuation of international oil price in the short run. But due to the structural characteristics of futures market itself and the restrictions and constraints in the aspect of the crude oil futures trading supervision, oil opportunistic practices can only affect the international oil price in the short run and can’t decide the long-term trend and level of the international oil price yet.
3.5. Other Influencing Factors
Except having the common properties of commodity, petroleum has also the property of strategic supplies. Thus, its price is affected not only by the supply and demand and other market factors, but also by emergencies, climate change and other factors to a great degree.
On the basis of the difference of process, nature and mechanism of emergencies, the public emergencies, which could affect the fluctuation of international oil price, can be divided into three major types: 1) wars and politic disturbances; 2) social security incidents, includeing terrorist attack incidents, economic security incidents, foreign involved emergencies; 3) natural calamities, refer mainly to meteorological disasters, geological disasters etc. . On one hand, emergencies affect directly the actual oil supply and demand; on the other hand, they affect people’s psychological expectation of the future international oil market, thereby have an indirect impact on the international oil price. Because different types of emergencies have different impact on the fluctuation of crude oil price, we should make the specific analysis combined with the incident nature and the total economic conditions at that time. For example, the American hurricane Katrina, happened in August, 2005, occurred and hit the American Mexico gulf states and made the petroleum installations of about 25% oil production in America suffer from the serious damages, the refineries, whose oil refining capacity occupies about 10% of the whole America’s, had to close, which resulted in the daily reduction of 1.5 million barrels crude oil and 2 million barrels refined oil and affected directly the tension supply of crude oil and refined oil in the international oil market. Add to that because it was a huge natural disaster happened in the American mainland, it brought about traumas in American public and also a pessimist economic expectation, consequently affected the violent shake of the international oil market and caused the rapid growth of the international oil price . However, the “9.11” terrorist attack incident in 2001 caused the turmoil and panic of the international oil market by affecting the people’s psychology . But the emergencies play normally an important role on the fluctuation of international oil price just for a short time, in the long run, it would not have a big impact on the oil trend.
Besides, because the oil and gas resource in the world distribute extremely in unbalance, nearly 2/3 oil needs to be transported through some important straits, canals or pipe laying. For example, nearly half of the global oiltankers need to pass through the Strait of Malacca. Thus, the security of the oil traffic path would also have an important impact on the international oil price in the short run.
By reviewing the historical path of the international oil price fluctuation, it is not difficult to see that due to the special properties of oneself and the strategic significance, the factors that affect its fluctuation are various (including not only the supply and demand and other traditional market factors, but also implies the competetion between all the world’s economic entities), and with the development of the world’s economy, the types of these influencing factors would increase and the influencing intensity, which presented by the various factors that affect the oil price, would also different in different historical periods. Since the fluctuation of one or more factors would affect the international oil price, the diversity and the complexity of the influencing factors of international oil price increase the difficulty to predict the international oil trend .
The drastic fluctuation of international oil price would cause great damages to the economy of China, the second largest oil consumer and the third oil importing country in the world. Although the continuous increase of crude oil import and consumption in our country is affecting the international oil-price trend gradually, yet restricted by the crude oil pricing mechanism, our country can only accept the international oil-price passively in a short time, therefore, the international oil-price growth would inevitably increase the cost of oil import in our country. In order to avoid the adverse impacts of our country’s economy caused by the international oil-price fluctuation, from my perspective, China should take multi-pronged response options. On one hand, improve the oil utilization ratio through technological innovation and promotion of alternative energy source and promote the establishment of energy diversification, and then reduce the dependence on oil. On the other hand, while accelerating the system building of national petroleum reserves and petroleum security emergency and perfecting the petroleum reserves system, invest actively the overseas energy development, intensify the cooperation with the major oil producing countries in the world, invest the oil fields in the major oil producing countries, master the initiative of crude oil supply.
Third, our country should take it into account that encourage more domestic companies to participate in the international oil futures market more actively, so as to spread risk and lock in costs; meanwhile further develop the oil futures market in our country itself, form our oil quotation system, and then affect the international oil market and the international oil price.
This work was financially supported by Key Project of “12th Five-Year” National Key Technology (2010BAB 04B06), Project of Ministry of Land and public service sectors (201111007-4).