Crude is not the only factor in price, however. The Department of Energy's price breakdown as of February 2011: 65 percent crude oil, 14 percent refining costs, eight percent distribution and marketing, and finally 13 percent federal and state taxes
Indeed, it's mighty hard to argue supply and demand alone drove the price of crude from $30/bbl in 2004 to over $140/bbl by the middle of 2008 back down to $33/bbl barely six months later.Meanwhile, the price of crude has risen back up to above $105 a barrel at the moment- a 24 percent price jump since the beginning of protests in the Middle East and North Africa began in mid-January. Prices at the pump reflect this spike, reaching their highest levels ever for this time of the year. Since December 2010, before fears about the crisis hit the market, prices have jumped almost 20 cents per gallon.
If the crisis spreads to the Middle East (and it's already in Bahrain and Yemen), it threatens to affect key oil transit points for tankers to and from refineries. Of particular concern is the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway through which about 40 percent of the world's oil traffic passes.
Finally, for those who think U.S. gas taxes are high already, here are the comparable figures from England: gasoline taxes of about four dollars a gallon, up from something like $2.50 a gallon in the early '90s.