BW #16: Consumer oil prices
How much do people pay for oil-based products in different countries? How do these prices vary over time?
Back in BW #10, we covered the changing price of a barrel of oil. But oil prices also affect consumers — they directly affect gasoline prices for car owners, indirectly affect people flying and taking public transit, and also influence manufacturing costs.
Moreover, oil prices can cause political issues: When prices are high, and cause gasoline prices to go up, people get rather upset. This is especially true in the United States, where the price of gasoline is somehow seen to be under the president's control, and affects his chances at re-election. (Americans also tend to forget that their gasoline, even at its most expensive, is far cheaper than drives pay in other countries.)
In oil-exporting countries, low oil prices can be a problem, depriving the government of income. (I've heard that when oil is priced at less than $80/barrel, it is a problem for countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia.)
And let's not forget that in countries with cold climates, expensive heating oil can lead to real problems over the winter. There was a lot of fear that in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, oil prices would spike, making it unaffordable for many people.
Data and questions
The International Energy Agency (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Energy_Agency) is an intergovernmental organization that monitors and coordinates energy markets. Every month, they produce report on energy prices among their member countries.
So, how are energy prices looking? What trends do we see over time? Is diesel fuel really cheaper than gasoline? We’ll look at these questions, and more.
Our data this week comes from the IEA, whose report describes consumer prices for three types of petroleum products:
Domestic heating oil
You can get these statistics, which are updated monthly, from https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/data-product/monthly-oil-price-statistics-2
Note that you'll need to register for a free IEA account in order to download the data. Once you do that, you'll want to download the Excel (xslx) version of the monthly prices excerpt; the file that I retrieved was last updated on May 10th, 2023.
Here are the questions for this week:
Load the "raw_data" tab of the Excel file into Pandas as a data frame.
Remove rows in which the VALUE column is `..`.
Turn the VALUE column into a float.
When reading data from a CSV file, we need to tell Pandas to interpret a column as a `datetype` dtype. Why didn't we have to do that here?
Each piece of data is repeated, once in US dollars and once in their national currency. So that we can compare prices, keep only the US dollars.
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