This article focuses on issues surrounding international oil markets within the wider context of international energy, the global economy, and conflicting agendas such as energy security and climate change. It is suggested that important aspects of the current situation appear 'unsustainable'--increasing uncertainty and raising methodological difficulties for any assessment of likely future developments. It is argued that the dynamics of oil prices during the 2002--9 cycle reflected great uncertainty about future 'fundamentals' as well as the absence of previously anticipated stabilizing feedbacks from supply, from demand, or from policy. It is suggested that damaging oil-price swings could be moderated by better policy, though probably not by financial regulation. In the longer term, the uncertainties remain very great, especially since the tensions between a realist view of likely energy-market developments and the imperatives of the climate change agenda remain unresolved. A wide range of policies in producer and consumer countries are likely to affect not only oil prices but also the contentious issue of the distribution of rents within the industry. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.