Has the oil market been rigged to raise prices?

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BP, Shell & Statoil suspected of deliberately manipulating markets and exacerbating the recession.

Edward Davey

The Energy Secretary Ed Davey has warned that companies found guilty of market manipulation will be severely punished

Three energy giants may have “colluded in reporting distorted prices to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products”.

If these allegations are true, it could have had an impact on not just petrol.

Everything is linked to the price of oil somehow — Food, clothes and other essential items all use energy during production, and many use products that are derived from oil like plastics.

Even products that don’t require oil-based materials all use fuel during production and for transportation. Gas prices are also driven up when the oil price goes up, as the two are both used to produce electricity, so even energy derived from gas isn’t exempt from the rise.

Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary said that companies would face the “full force of the law” if found to have “driven up” prices deliberately.

A report by Ernst & Young during the 2011 oil price spike warned that the high price of oil could hamper the UK’s economic recovery. They estimated that when the price of oil went over $100 a barrel inflation would increase 1.5% and GDP would drop by 0.8%.

The oil price traded above $100 for periods in 2008, 2011 and 2012.