2011 Grice Price Spike, By the Numbers

Here we go again. Three years after oil peaked at $147 a barrel, and gas prices zoomed past $4 a gallon, the price of oil has returned to triple digits. The numbers provide a snapshot of our current situation.

$3.29 a gallon

The average price of a gallon of gas on Friday, up from $3.11 a month ago and more than $0.60 compared to a year ago. Many forecasters see $4 a gallon by summer.

$97.88 a barrel

Where oil futures ended in New York last week, jumping $12 for the week, resulting in the highest level since October 2008.

$1 Billion

The amount of money taken out of consumer’s pockets, as a rule, with every 1-cent increase in the price at the pumps.

1 percentage point

The level of reduction in the global economy, over two years, with every $10 increase in the price of a barrel of oil.

700,000 barrels a day

The increase in crude oil output from Saudi Arabia since the end of 2010, a move taken to calm oil markets. Saudi output stands at 9 million barrels a day. Increased production helped lower the New York price by 77 cents today.

5 million barrels a day

Total amount of spare capacity that all OPEC countries are able to produce on an emergency basis. That’s a cushion of about 6 percent of the world’s consumption, after which oil production would not be able to keep pace with demand, resulting in possible record-breaking price levels.


There are two unknown figures regarding the current spike in oil and gasoline prices: The number of days the current prices will remain high or continue to grow; and the MPG of your personal vehicle—with the resulting impact on your wallet and the country’s economic vulnerability.


  • Shines

    These costs don’t reflect what consumers will have to spend to convert from standard ICE vehicles to hybrids and EVs over the next 5,10 – 20 years.

  • MrEnergyCzar

    I’m not gambling that OPEC has a 5 mb/d cushion. That’s why I’m getting the Volt shortly and changed the way my family lives. I’ve been preparing my family for the global peak in cheap oil that is required to keep our economies growing and attached a helpful video to show people what they can do to prepare….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHmXhgBhtWk

    MrEnergyCzar

  • Samie

    Oil prices through speculation in the futures market is to blame for this. Lag time- Production -> to Refining -> to Gas Station (pump) takes months not days. Additionally, output of petro has not changed, nor any news of near term changes in market forecasting to warrant a real price adjustment.

    Middle East conflicts do pose a short-term problem but with the right amount of greed (oil securement from new regimes) & bribing away liberties as just done in Saudi Arabia will reduce current fears of what is happening in the Middle East. $4.00-5.00 gasoline prices in the summer? I’m not so sure of that.

  • Anonymous

    whether it’s speculation or real shortage that is causing the spike, it’s painfully clear the world is unable to to cut itself off from this addictive juice.

    a great reason to continue developing more efficient vehicles and other alternative energies to drive them.

  • JamesDavis

    Since the United States or Canada was not mentioned in this report, does that mean that the United States and Canada has stopped producing oil and we are now totally dependent on foreign oil production for our survival? When the Eastern countries pull these greedy tricks, why can’t America and Canada increase oil production and direct it to our own storage facilities to counter act the easterners greed to destroy the West’s economy? Can’t America use its own oil, or are we still trying to figure out how to retrieve it from the waters in the Gulf that BP spilled there? America does not have to raise gas and oil prices every time someone raises their voice or burps in the East. If the U.S. and Canada just stop exporting our oil, our gas price per gallon would still be under $2.00 and our economy would not be at the edge of total collapse again. Does it really take a rocket scientist to figure that out???

  • 55mpg

    Gas is very cheap at $4 a gallon.

  • Indigo

    Are we REALLY supposed to be surprised that there is instability in the Middle East and that it affects a vital commodity produced in that region?

    When you have governments in which the wealthy control nearly 100% of the nation’s assets and the government grants the citizenry no freedom of speech, religion, assembly, or association, it’s going to create an unstable situation. (Take that as a hint, Tea Party!)

  • Samie

    JamesDavis,
    It is not as simple as turning on a domestic oil tap to combat inflated prices. However when global petro prices increase (months not days), domestic activity tends to increase eg. tar sands, second rate oil fields go into production.

    There is simply not enough domestic oil to support our consumption. We also would be foolish to use up left over reserves just to alleviate short-term problems. This is called leverage. If we exhaust all our domestic oil we would be sure to face higher prices at the pump because market forces & the oil oligopolies would use this to their advantage.

    An interesting theory some advocate is to use up all our oil resources so that we deal with energy uncertainties now & not wait twenty years late. Either way I think gasoline spikes should be a wake up call in exploring how best to bring EVs to a mass market.

  • TD

    US and Canadian and indeed world production of crude has increased over the last year. In fact there is a current oil supply glut in the United States. Inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma delivery point for light sweet crude in the United States are elevated due to higher US oil production, rising imports from Canada and lower refinery utilization.

    However, there are temporary shortfalls for certain refineries in Europe who were relying on crude oil from Libya whose production has fallen off. They are scrambling to find other sources, which they will because Libya’s production is not that large.

    The market distortion comes from the “Global” market pricing mechanism where a local market disruption, in this case Libya and Europe, has a global impact on prices, because we trade and sell everything on the global market. Though it is not quite that simple because there are different indexes for oil from the Middle East and Africa (Brent Crude Oil) versus the West Texas Intermediate benchmark for US supplies. So it seems oil companies and gas stations like to set their price to the consumer at the highest benchmark available.

    Where I live not a drop of oil comes from the Middle East. It all comes from Alaska, but every time there is a problem in the Middle East gas prices shoot up here just as they do everywhere. Isn’t the Global economy great! Not to worry though. I own a hybrid.

  • Samie

    TD, I agree to most of what your saying. The market distortions so to speak are tricky because it depends on the market(s) you are trading in say domestic or global. Each country has its own sucurement deals that allow exclusive rights/supplies to be traded domestically. In one since, petro is not truly traded on a true global market system. Just bc. Europe needs additional supplies (hypothetically willing to pay more than U.S customers) we do not see reductions in supplies to the U.S.

    TD I am surprised that all your gasoline consumption comes from Alaska. One of the fallacies of the “Drill Baby Drill” theory was that all oil produced in the U.S. is only for domestic consumption. Speaking of Alaska, I wonder if we will put more money into fixing current problems in the Alaska Pipeline. Anyways lets hope that hybrids & EVs become affordable/accessible in the near future to those less inclined & able to afford petro spikes.

  • Puerto Rico

    The classic… do not forget that every time you spend money on Petrol… you also get detriment of heatlh per its emissions and associated healthcare costs.

    We also indirectly fund radical governments such as Lybia (recent news for example and recent swing of crude) who have been known to fund terror groups.

    This is probably the least advertised of the two… support for petro also leads to indirect support for terror… Not to mention the risk of military lives out on the field who give their lives in combat trying to defend fuel convoys on the ground.

    Some people think Petrol is it… haven’t they seen visions of the future were we have hovering spaceships? do they think these run on turbo diesel engines or on Bunker C fuel oil????!!!!

    The worst of all things is that people run to BIG OIL companies with the alternative energy needs they have… as if these companies were the only ones granted energy rights in the world…

    Personally I am all for new companies to take care of the new energy future. The BIG OILs have had their share for far too long effectively cornering the market, tarnishing the environment, impacting the health of countless childern, spurring who knows how many wars… and who knows what else in this imperfect world.