I had a coworker last week decry the rise in gas prices. She seemed genuinely clueless about why it was happening.

To me it is so mindbogglingly obvious why it was happening, that I was a bit dumbfounded at her lack of knowledge. I explained that 10 years ago neither China nor India were using nearly the amount of energy resources that they are now, and that there have been world-wide supply problems--such as in Nigeria, and pretty much stopped there. I figured going into the complete lack of adequate refinery capacity would be a bit out of her depth.

But not beyond "Reason". Here's an article they wrote on the fact that there has not been a single refinery built in the US in 32 years.

But getting an oil refinery built is next to impossible, hence the 30-year construction drought. There will always be environmental activists who fight any new proposed refinery, regardless of where it might be located and how environmentally safe it is. And our environmental rules give them the upper hand.

The environmental impact-report process mobilizes the "not in my back yard" elements to oppose any proposed refinery, but it does not mobilize people or groups who are looking at national energy needs. You wind up with a very lopsided discussion where potential problems are thoroughly and perhaps overly represented, but the only group pointing out the benefits of the refinery is the "evil" oil company asking to build it - even though every automobile driver would benefit.

Carpe Diem--where I found the Reason link--posted a graph of the number of refineries since the 1950's.

He didn't give a source for his graph, but a quick search for "operable oil refineries" pulled up this data from the Department of Energy.

And on this page at the DOE stats site, supply and demand appears in two stunning numbers at the bottom of the page:

Total World Oil Production (2005): 82,532,000 barrels/day
Total World Petroleum Consumption (2005): 83,607,000 barrels/day

That's a production deficit of over 1 million barrels a day. Carry that out over years, and price must rise rather staggeringly.