The price of oil is the main determinant of how much money and effort is expended in looking for new sources. From the end of the Second World War until the early 1970s, oil prices were stable. In late 1973, as a consequence of the Arab–Israeli war, the first oil shock hit the world as the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) limited the oil supply and prices skyrocketed. In 1979 further political change in the Middle East, this time in Iran, caused a second oil shock. Oil prices began to decline in the early 1980s, and by the mid-1980s they had stabilised. Around 2003, with growing international demand and waning oil supplies, the price began to rise again.
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Source: Energy Information Administration