Friday, January 8, 2016

Current and Historical Gasoline and Crude Oil Prices — 1918 to the Present (Jan. 8, 2016)

As of January 6, 2016, in the country that nationalized their oil industry, the cost for gasoline is still the cheapest in the world at 6¢ a gallon — which is less expensive than water!

For the world's largest producer of oil, the average price for a gallon of gasoline in Saudi Arabia is $0.87 per gallon. In the U.S. it's $2.27 a gallon. For a comparison, the average price of gasoline in the world is $3.70 a gallon. The most expensive gasoline in the world is in Hong Kong, at $6.91 a gallon (so be sure to tank up before driving there).

Dating back to 1932 — when the price for a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. was 18 cents a gallon — the lowest inflation-adjusted cost for a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. was $1.46 a gallon in 1998 (when crude oil was $18.31 a barre1). Here is chronology of crude oil prices since that time:

  • From 1999 until mid-2008, the price of oil rose significantly. It was explained by the rising oil demand in countries like China and India (after years off U.S. offshoring).
  • In the middle of the Great Recession during the mass layoffs, the price of oil underwent a significant decrease after the record peak of $145 a barrel in July 2008 under George W. Bush.
  • On December 23, 2008, the price for WTI crude oil fell to $30.28 a barrel — the lowest since the financial crisis first began.
  • The price sharply rebounded after the recession "officially" ended in June 2009 and rose to $82 a barrel.
  • On January 31, 2011 the Brent price hit $100 a barrel (for the first time since October 2008) on concerns about the political unrest in Egypt (Why? I don't know.)
  • Then for the next three and half years the price largely remained in the $90-$120 range (when Obama was being blamed by Fox News's Bill O'Reilly for high gasoline prices.)
  • In the middle of 2014, the price started declining due to a significant increase in oil production in the U.S. (fracking, shale and Oklahoma earthquakes) and declining demand in the "emerging markets" (where American companies offshored all those jobs.)
  • By January 2015 the price of crude oil (both Brent and West Texas Intermediate) reached below $50 a barrel — a record dip below $44 for WTI (with Brent near $54) was reached at mid March 2015 — before prices increased again in the following months ($60 for WTI and $65 for Brent).
  • Then oil prices decreased to a six-year low to $36 on December 11, 2015 — being mostly blamed for a decrease in manufacturing in China (where American companies offshored all those jobs.)

And just recently, with oil prices so low, Congress decided to pass a spending bill with an amendment to end the 40-year ban on U.S. oil exports (to make us "energy independent?) — when the price for a barrel of oil was $36.76 for WTI and $37.22 for Brent (Historic oil prices are here).

And the Saudis, who are pumping oil like crazy, are planning for oil prices to be priced very low for quite a long time to come.

FLASHBACK: The Wall Street Journal (from a year ago in January 2015) — "World’s Largest Traders Use Offshore Supertankers to Store Oil: Companies Are Buying Oil Now to Sell Later When Prices Rise" 

So if we're not selling domestic oil cheaply on the world market, will more oil be hoarded to create an artificial shortage to raise prices at the pump again? (And as of this post, I haven't heard Bill O'Reilly giving credit to Obama for low gasoline prices.)

Maybe we shouldn't export oil (or water, or any of America's natural resources), but instead nationalize our oil industry so that we too can have a gallon of gasoline for 6¢ a gallon. All the money that consumers save can go back into the economy, create jobs and raise wages. (But then again, I also hear that cheap oil and a slowdown in China's economy is also driving down stock prices on the Dow Jones. That's odd.)

As an aside: TransCanada plans on suing the U.S. for $15 billion under a provision granted by Bill Clinton's NAFTA agreement (his trade deal that offshored jobs) for Obama's veto of the Keystone pipeline. Can you imagine all the litigation U.S. taxpayers would face under the TPP trade deal — when foreign/multinational corporations can sue governments if their environmental laws threaten corporate profits? (More at the Washington Post)

(Click on image to enlarge charts below).

Current and historical gasoline and crude oil prices


  1. UPDATE: Friday, January 8, 2016

    The unemployment rate didn't change (again) — that's because, most of the jobs created were created for those "not in the labor force", and not for those who are still in the labor force but counted as "unemployed".

    Today the labor department reported that we've had 292,000 more jobs created since last month, and the unemployment rate stayed the same at 5%

    * The number of people counted as "unemployed" decreased from 7,924,000 to 7,904,000 (for 20,000 less)
    * The number of people counted as "not in the labor force" decreased from 94,380,000 to 94,103,000 (for 277,000 less)
    * The number of people counted as non-farm workers increased from 142,950,000 to 143,242,000 (292,000 more)
    * There are 20,000 less unemployed + 277,000 less not in the labor force = 297,000 ---> 292,000 jobs created ---> a difference of 5,000 (who could be newly disabled or retired since last month)

    SOURCES: Bureau of Labor Statistics

    Employment News Release

    Not in the Labor Force:

    In the Labor Force, but Counted as Unemployed

    Total non-farm Jobs

    Monthly number of Jobs Created

    Social Security Statistics

    1. In 2015 we created 2.6 million jobs
      In 2014 we created 3.1 million jobs
      In 2013 we created 2.3 million jobs
      In 2012 we created 2.2 million jobs
      In 2011 we created 2.0 million jobs
      In 2010 we created 1.0 million jobs

      But since the onset of the Great Recession, we only had a NET GAIN of 4.7 million jobs.

    2. During that time, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), we've also averaged over 3 million high school grads every year, and/or college grads (because the majority of high school grads have also gone on to college and graduated.)