There is a public mythology concerning the oil markets that has been fueled by a sharp rise in oil prices in the last few years. That perception is that the oil companies whose job it is to acquire the raw materials to make petroleum products, including gasoline for transportation, are the source of the rising prices. It is easy for the public to pin the blame on big business.
The truth is that those on the inside of the oil business know full well that the oil business is tremendously cyclical. That means that the old adage, “whatever goes up must come down” definitely applies to the oil markets domestically and around the world. The current high prices are more a reflection of problems with refineries and with supply due to tension in the Middle East than it does with the profit objectives of the oil companies involved. In truth, oil companies have to cope with sweeping shifts in supply and demand and it impacts how they plan their economic futures as much or more than it affects the average consumer.