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Lesson plan: Europe's petroleum problems

September 14, 2000
Web posted at: 6:19 PM EDT (2219 GMT)

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Editorís note: If you are planning to use the news story that this lesson plan is based on for a homework assignment, please write the URL on the board and have your students copy it. updates the site in the early evening, so students may have difficulty finding it without the URL. You can find the lesson plan by going to the Subject Areas page and clicking PREVIOUS in the square for Today's Lesson Plan.


Students will be able to:

  • Identify the role and function of OPEC, or the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
  • Determine the best solution for the petroleum problem in Europe.


National Council for Social Studies
VII. Production, Distribution and Consumption

High school students develop economic perspectives and deeper understanding of key economic concepts and processes through systematic study of a range of economic and sociopolitical systems, with particular emphasis on the examination of domestic and global economic policy options related to matters such as health care, resource use, unemployment and trade.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

High school students should be able to evaluate published reports that are based on data by examining the design of the study, the appropriateness of the data analysis and the validity of conclusions.

Materials article, "Europe fuel protests begin to crack"
Internet access
Graph paper
Colored pencils

Suggested time

One class period


1. Introduce and discuss the purpose of OPEC. Locate on a map the 11 countries that participate in OPEC.

2. Have students read the article "Europe fuel protests begin to crack." Then ask:
  • Why are people protesting in Europe? How did the French government respond to the protesters?
  • How are hauliers and tour bus drivers affected by the increase in gasoline prices?
  • What are some reasons that cause an increase in gasoline prices?
  • Kuwait's oil minister, Saud Nassar al-Sabah, said, "The rise in prices will continue with the increase of demand in winter, and prices may stabilize or start to decline in January or February." What are the implications of this statement?

3. Assign the following roles to students: leaders of OPEC, hauliers, tour bus drivers, the British prime minister, the French prime minister, members of the Union of Professional Road Transport and TotalfinaElf personnel. Have the class simulate a discussion to create a solution for the petroleum problem in Europe.


Have students create bar graphs of oil production in Europe for the past seven years. Direct them to predict oil production for the next seven years based on the solution developed in class.


Verbal/linguistic: Have each student write a letter to the president of OPEC explaining how they would "fix" the petroleum problem in Europe.


Students can research how oil is refined. Direct them to design oil refineries that would be more productive and cost-efficient than current refineries.

Automobile Association UK
Tidelands Oil Production Co.
Oil and gas production forecasts

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