It is oil speculators who put money on oil futures that are running up the prices. They are hedging bets against where oil prices may go, causing prices to fluctuate. In fact, big energy traders are hedging huge bets that oil prices will continue to go up, with nearly twice as many long contracts on oil open as the last big speculation run up in 2008.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve actually has more oil stockpiled than at any point in the last five years, and all the unrest hasn’t affected global output at all.
The one bright side? If everybody in the Middle East settles down, oil prices could come plunging back to Earth. I think I’d rather see a bunch of Middle East dictatorships fall than gas prices though.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.