AFTER years of countless concerned headlines over rising oil prices, the world is now frantically debating the fallout of an unexpected slump.

Prices are now cheaper than they have been in three-and-a-half years and aren’t expected to rise in the near future.

Broadly speaking, the roots of the falling prices lie in the age-old issue of supply and demand. Booming production led by North America’s shale revolution is helping to keep output high, while a stagnant economy in Europe and weak growth in China is stifling any growth in consumption.

Falling prices are clearly bad news for producers, but beyond some slim profit announcements it’s yet to be seen how significant the impact will be.