Want to understand the economics of high gas prices?
A big part of it is the decline in refining capacity. Unlike any other business, refiners actually benefit from declining capacity and loss of refining capacity. The New Yorker
has a very concise and brief explanation of how these economics work. It's well worth the read.
I would add that the fact that oil companies have not built a new refinery since 1976 is not just the result of environmentalist, NIMBY, and regulations. The oil companies, despite their public presenatation, are not stupid. They recognize that peak oil is upon us. To spend $2 Billion per refinery to increase refining capacity on a declining commodity is not a good business strategy. Why take that risk when maintaining a tight refining market results in such positive shareholder gains?