In the past decade, oil prices have been particularly volatile. Following the Great Recession, production caps by the largest oil producing body, OPEC, saw prices climb to historic highs. The OPEC reference basket reached an annual average of 109.45 U.S. dollars per barrel in 2012, while Brent crude climbed to 111.63 U.S. dollars. This surge in prices incentivized North American oil and gas producers to reinforce hitherto unprofitable extraction methods for shale oil and oil sands, which contributed to the oil glut of 2016. That year, benchmarks fell below an annual average of 45 U.S. dollars per barrel. The following three years had seen prices initially recover, with the Russian oil marker Urals crude reaching nearly 80 U.S. dollars per barrel in October 2018. However, the 2020 coronavirus pandemic and resulting mobility restrictions has had dire effects on the industry. April 2020 recorded some of the lowest ever closing prices for crude oils. Since then, weekly oil prices have stagnated around 40 U.S. dollars per barrel.
The effects of the 2020 oil crisis also resulted in gasoline fuel prices falling around the world. In the United States, costs for one liter decreased by over 23 percent between June 2019 and June 2020. U.S. retail prices for regular automotive gasoline had averaged 2.6 U.S. dollars per gallon in 2019; whereas in Japan, car drivers had paid between 140 and 150 Japanese Yen for one liter of regular gasoline that year.