12:34 GMT05 December 2020
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    As investigations into the recent Paris terror attacks continue, politicians have pledged greater military action in the Middle East to combat terrorism. But apart from the political and humanitarian impacts, there is speculation about what an increase in conflict would do to world commodity prices.

    There has been much debate about global commodities prices in recent times, particularly given the sharp fall in the cost of oil over the past couple of years.

    While global oil prices remained fairly steady at around US$110 a barrel from 2010 to mid 2014, costs since June last year have nosedived, with current oil prices just over US$40 a barrel.

    Many experts identified weak international demand, along with an increase in US shale oil flooding the market, as contributing factors in the overall drop in oil prices, which was compounded by OPEC's decision not to slash oil production to offset the drop in value.

    However, while oil prices are sitting at their lowest levels since the 2008-2009 global economic crisis, some analysts are predicting that they soon could rise again if the war in Syria and surrounding countries escalates.

    Citing the spike in global oil prices to around $140 a barrel following the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in the early 2000s, energy market analyst Robert Berke believes that the price of commodities could dramatically increase again if the conflict in Syria extends into oil rich areas.

    "If expanded war is likely, and there's solid reasons to think so, [then] commodities could also be on their way up," he wrote in a piece for oilprice.com.

    "Consider what happened during the Bush Middle East war years when oil prices hit a thirty year high in just five years, followed soon after by the commodities markets as a whole along with subsequent roaring inflation."

    Many international energy analysts, including those form Goldman Sachs, have predicted that oil prices will slowly rise to around US$80 a barrel by 2020, however Berke believes there could be a sharper increase in the event of "expanding global conflicts pressuring prices."

    He says that if oil producing areas of Iraq and other neighboring countries are caught up in the conflict, it could reverse the current trend and trigger a sharp rise in global oil prices, as seen in the past.

    "In the years ahead, prices could rise significantly because of the cutback in upstream investment occurring today. But the Paris attacks are a reminder that conflict has a way of creating surprises."

    "The latest attacks are not enough to move the needle on oil prices, given excess supply still seen today. But a future attack that cuts off production somewhere around the world could cause a price spike that no one will be able to anticipate."


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    Middle East, Oil, oil companies, terror attack, oil production, market, terrorism, conflict, war, commodities, oil prices, November 13, 2015 Paris terrorist attacks, Syrian crisis, Iraq War, OPEC, World, Syria, Paris
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