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Monday, January 18, 2010

Oil Prices and Domestic Petroleum Exploration and Wells Investment

by Calculated Risk on 1/18/2010 11:05:00 AM

In late 2008 we discussed that the dramatic decline in oil prices would lead to a sharp decline in domestic investment in petroleum exploration and wells. Sure enough domestic investment was cut by 50% in the 2nd half of 2009 ...

The following graph compares real oil prices (data from the St. Louis Fed, adjusted with CPI) and real investment in petroleum exploration and wells in the U.S. (data from the BEA).

This doesn't include investment in alternative energy sources.

Oil Prices and Investment Click on graph for larger image in new window.

Not surprisingly there is a strong correlation between oil prices and investment. With oil prices now around $80 per barrel again, domestic investment will probably increase in 2010.

The increase in oil prices is also concerning. Notice that large increases in oil prices have frequently been followed by recessions. This is a topic that Professor Hamilton has researched and discussed several times over the years, see: Will rising oil prices derail the recovery? Of course oil prices are still far below the peak.

Note: right scale doesn't start at zero to show the correlation between the series.