Small and flat worlds: A complex network analysis of international trade in crude oil

Yu Yang, Jessie P.H. Poon, Yi Liu, Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Global competition for crude oil has increased in the past decade with the entry of industrializing nations such as China and India. Yet we still do not know much about the spatial structure of crude oil commodity trade and its evolution over time. In this paper, we apply complex network analysis to examine the geography of global crude oil flows and its evolution based on the United Nations commodity trade database from 1988 to 2013. Attention is given to the geo-visualization of the networks that trace the rise and decline of oil hubs. The results show that world crude oil is characterized by network characteristics that capture both small world and flat world properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-543
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Dec 15 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Complex networks
  • Crude oil trade
  • Flat world
  • GIS (geographical information system)
  • Small world

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Pollution
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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