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Investors have many options for getting involved with oil. These methods come with varying degrees of risk and range from direct investment in oil as a commodity, to indirect exposure in oil through the ownership of energy-related equities.

One direct method of owning oil is through the purchase of oil futures or oil futures options. Futures are highly volatile and involve a high degree of risk. Additionally, investing in futures may require the investor to do a lot of homework as well as invest a large amount of capital.

Another direct method of owning oil is through the purchase of commodity-based oil exchange-traded funds (ETFs). ETFs trade on a stock exchange and can be purchased and sold in a manner similar to stocks. For example, buying one share of the U.S. Oil Fund (USO) would give you exposure to roughly one barrel of oil.

In addition, investors can gain indirect exposure to oil through the purchase of energy-sector ETFs, like the iShares Global Energy Sector Index Fund (IXC), and to energy-sector mutual funds, like the the T. Rowe Price New Era Fund (PRNEX). These energy-specific ETFs and mutual funds invest solely in the stocks of oil and oil services companies and come with lower risk.

For more on this topic, read An Introduction To Sector Funds, Futures Fundamentals: Introduction and ETFs Provide Easy Access To Energy Commodities.

If you are looking for more information about investing in oil companies, Investopedia's Advisor Insights tackles the topic by answering one of our user questions.

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