Falling Oil Prices – Winners and Losers

[Business ★★★]


(P1) For the first time in four years, the price of oil has been decreasing steadily.  At the moment, it is down to $60 to $80 per barrel after years of prices above $100. And there are no signs of prices going up in the near future.

(P2) One of the reasons for the fall of oil prices is that there is more than enough oil on the world markets.  Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer has tried to stabilize the prices by producing less oil but other OPEC members have reacted by producing more oil.

(P3) Another reason for the cut in oil prices is that the United States has been producing more and more energy from fracking. The oil that is trapped in the rocks of the western US can be extracted at a cheaper price. This means that the US can produce more oil itself and does not have to import oil from foreign markets.

(P4) The decrease in oil prices is expected to help the world’s economy. Especially in Europe, the downward movement of oil price is expected to be good for the economy. China and Japan should also profit from falling oil prices as they must import almost all of their oil. In most cases, low oil prices mean lower inflation and people spending more money on goods. Cheap oil prices may also influence the travel market as airline fuel costs should drop.

(P5) Some oil exporting countries are the big losers of this downward slide in oil prices. Most of them for example, Venezuela, need higher oil prices to pay for government programs and secure the economy. Russia also needs income from oil and gas. The two natural resources bring the country 70% of its income.  In addition to the falling value of the ruble, the Russian currency, the country also misses over 2 billion dollars of income per year.

(P6) On the other side, falling energy prices will not affect Middle Eastern countries that much. The oil-producing states of the Gulf region have enough money to withstand lower oil prices for some time.

WORDS: 346

SOURCE: http://www.english-online.at/news-articles/business-economy/falling-oil-prices-winners-losers.htm

VOCABULARY: steadily, barrel, stabilize, OPEC, fracking, extracted, downward, inflation, affect, withstand


If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly, summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. How has the decreasing oil prices affected your country?
  3. Is inflation high or low in your country? Why do you think so?
  4. Do you think the world’s oil supply will run out sometime? Why or why not?
  5. What are the gas prices in your city? Are they higher or lower than last year?

EXPRESSIONS or PHRASES: What do the following expressions or phrases mean?

  • Down to (P1)
  • For the fall of oil prices (P2)
  • For the cut in oil prices (P3)
  • Travel market (P4)
  • Downward slide (P5)

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Image source: by Joshua Doubek https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frac_job_in_process.JPG

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