From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Petrodollar warfare)
Jump to: navigation, search

Petrodollar refers to United States dollars earned through exports of petroleum (oil).[1]


In an effort to prop up the value of the dollar, Richard Nixon negotiated a deal with Saudi Arabia that in exchange for arms and protection they would denominate all future oil sales in U.S. dollars.[2] Subsequently, the other OPEC countries agreed to similar deals thus ensuring a global demand for U.S. dollars and allowing the U.S. to export some of its inflation.[citation needed] Since these dollars did not circulate within the country and thus were not part of the normal money supply, economists felt another term was necessary to describe the dollars received by petroleum exporting countries (OPEC) in exchange for oil, so the term petrodollar was coined by Georgetown University economics professor, Ibrahim Oweiss.

Because the United States was the largest producer and consumer of oil in the world, the world oil market had been priced in United States dollars since the end of World War II.[3] International oil prices were based on discounts or premiums relative to that for oil in the Gulf of Mexico.[4] But, although oil sales prior to 1973 were denominated in U.S. dollars, nothing precluded settlement in local currency.

In October 1973, OPEC declared an oil embargo in response to the United States' and Western Europe's support of Israel in the Yom Kippur War, and this tension (and the new power of OPEC) led to fear that the dollar would become insignificant in the oil trade.

Financial impact[edit]

Large inflows of petrodollars into a country often has an impact on the value of its currency. For Canada it was shown that an increase of 10% in the price of oil increases the Canadian dollar value versus the US dollar by 3%[5] and vice versa.

Alternative meanings[edit]

In addition to the United States petrodollar, a petrodollar can also refer to the Canadian dollar in transactions that involve the sale of Canadian oil to other nations. In this sense, the term petrodollar is related to but should not be confused with petrocurrency which refers to the actual national currency of each petroleum exporting country.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ The Petrodollar
  2. ^ The Oil Kings: How Nixon courted the shah.
  3. ^ Hamilton, James D. Historical Oil Shocks. Department of Economics. University of California, San Diego. Revised: February 1, 2011
  4. ^ Adelman, M. A. (1972). The World Petroleum Market, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, Chapter5.
  5. ^ Correlation between the oil prices and the Canadian dollar

Further reading[edit]