One approach to oil markets is to treat oil as an asset, besides its role as a commodity. Speculative and nonspeculative activity by investors in the derivatives markets could be responsible for a sizable increase in oil prices. This paper recognizes both the consumption and investment aspects of crude oil and proposes Levy processes for modeling uncertainty and options pricing. Calibration to crude oil futures' options shows high volatility of oil futures prices, fat-tailed, and right-skewed market expectations, implying a higher probability mass on crude oil prices remaining above the futures' level. These findings support the view that demand for futures contracts by investors could lead to excessively high price volatility.
Crude oil prices have been on a run-up spree in recent years. Their dynamics were characterized by high volatility, high intensity jumps, and strong upward drift, indicating that oil markets were constantly out-of-equilibrium. An explanation of the oil price process in terms of the underlying fundamentals of oil markets and world economy was provided, viewing pressure on oil prices mainly as a result of rigid crude oil supply and an expanding world demand for crude oil. A change in the oil price process parameters would require a change in the underlying fundamentals. Market expectations, extracted from call and put option prices, anticipated no change, in the short term, in the underlying fundamentals. Markets expected oil prices to remain volatile and jumpy, and with higher probabilities, to rise, rather than fall, above the expected mean.