Milestones In Crude Oil Prices

What a difference a decade makes.

As crude oil nears $100 a barrel, it's hard to believe that black gold was trading under $11 a barrel as recently as December 1998.

Fast forward five years from that day to a time when the oil market may have changed irrevocably. Though the Persian Gulf War had been won, a hefty risk premium was built into prices.

By the spring of 2004, crude had eclipsed the long-standing record high of $40.40 set in October 1990 after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

Prices drifted back briefly, but by October of 2004, the benchmark U.S. crude had broken through $50 a barrel -- something many once thought was improbable, if not impossible.

In 2005, a Goldman Sachs report predicting a super-spike and $100-a-barrel oil brought cries of incredulity and at least a few chuckles.

What seems downright unbelievable today is that about a year ago, crude oil was trading at $50.

Inflation-adjusted or not, oil is sky high. Here’s a look at crude oil prices over the past two decades and major milestones on the way to $100 a barrel.