Oil rig

Politics is bumping up the price of oil

Sanctions, wars, and economic crises... who knew a price tag could be so revealing?

Oil is selling at almost $75 a barrel, the highest it's been in about 3 and a half years.

What it means: It doesn't sound like much of a story, but the price of oil can actually tell you a lot about what's going on in the world of politics – and it plays a big part in the energy bills we pay, too.

People who analyse the price of oil (yup, that's a job!) are pointing to a series of dramatic international developments in the past few weeks to explain why the price has skyrocketed recently. One, people think Trump may place sanctions on oil from Iran, which basically means it's US government policy not to buy or sell any from them. Iran is one of the world's largest oil producers, so if their oil's been forced out of the market, that means there's far less available internationally – which makes what's left more valuable.

Secondly, the military strikes last week in Syria mean investors aren't sure how peaceful the Middle East is gonna be for the next few months, and how easy it'll be to get oil out of there. Again: fear of lower supply in the near future = higher demand for what we've got right now.

The 'Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) is meeting next week, and presumably this is gonna come up. Saudi Arabia, the world's number one oil exporter, is going to try and make sure the price stays high, because they fund most of their public services and infrastructure projects from oil.

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