The transportation sector relies heavily on petroleum as a fuel source – more than two-thirds of U.S. petroleum consumption in 2016 was for transportation. There are many factors that influence the price of crude oil, including supply and demand, weather, technology, and geopolitics, just to name a few. The average annual price of a barrel of crude oil acquired by U.S. refineries in 2016 was about $41 which was down from the record-high price of $109/barrel in 2011 (dollars have been adjusted for inflation). From 1986 to 2003 crude oil prices were consistently at or below $41, but had been much higher in the ten years preceding that time.
Refiner Acquisition Price of a Barrel of Crude Oil, 1970-2016
Note: The refiner acquisition cost is the cost of crude oil to the refiner, including transportation and fees. The cost shown is the weighted average of domestic and imported crude oil costs. Adjusted for inflation using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index.
Source: Energy Information Administration, April 2017 Monthly Energy Review, Table 9.1.