With benchmark crudes persistently at high levels, worldwide interest in the future trends and the determinants of oil prices is still very high.

According to the World Energy Outlook 2012, the global demand for oil will increase by 14 percent in 2035, and fossil fuels will continue to meet the bulk of the world’s energy needs. Given the current as well as perspective relevance of the international oil markets for the global economy, it is of utmost importance that economic research provide the answers to relevant issues, such as: the evolution of the price of oil and its main drivers; the effects of oil price shocks on the global economy; the transmission mechanisms through which structural macroeconomic shocks affect the oil price; the definition, measurement and role of financial speculation in the oil and commodity derivatives markets; the impact of speculation on spot and futures oil prices, and on oil price volatility.

Although political sensitivities about the impact of commodity derivatives markets on the price of oil remain, recent research, presented in January 2012 at the FEEM workshop on “Financial Speculation in the Oil Market and the Determinants  of the Oil Price”, has shown that financial speculation is not the major determinant of the oil price level and its associated volatility, that prices are driven primarily by market fundamentals, and that, among market fundamentals, the demand from China and other Asian economies plays a crucial role.

Sixteen months later, FEEM organizes an international conference on “Oil Price Forecasts and Trends”, aiming at gathering together both scholars in the field of energy economics and professionals from international financial and energy institutions to discuss:

• Alternative approaches to predict oil and energy commodity prices;
• Oil price volatility models and analyses;
• Characteristics and recent trends in the oil market;
• Interconnections between the oil market and the commodity derivatives markets;
• Links between the price of oil and the global economy;
• Informational role of spot prices and inventories in commodity markets.