Everyone knows that gas prices are skyrocketing, but how much do you know about where your gasoline is coming from? Do you know where the money that you spend on gasoline is actually going? Where can you find the cheapest gasoline in the world? What about the most expensive? Take our quiz to find out how much you know about gas prices.
Americans drive nearly 3 trillion miles per year, according to the Motor and Equipment Manufacturer's Association (MEMA). That's about 820 trips from the sun to Pluto and back.
The United States consumes about 20 million barrels of oil products per day (bbl/d), according to the Department of Energy. Of that, almost half is used for motor gasoline. The rest is used for distillate fuel oil, jet fuel, residual fuel and other oils. Each barrel of oil contains 42 gallons (159 L), which yields 19 to 20 gallons (75 L) of gasoline. So, in the United States, something like 178 million gallons of gasoline is consumed every day.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, here's an approximation of where each dollar you spend on gas goes: taxes: 11 cents; distribution and marketing: 6 cents; refining: 10 cents; crude oil: 73 cents.
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
The single largest entity impacting the world's oil supplies is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a consortium of 13 countries: Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.
Sometimes, gas prices go up even though there is plenty of crude oil on the market. It depends on what kind of oil it is. Oil can be classified as heavy or light, and as sweet or sour (no one actually tastes the oil, that's just what they call it). Light, sweet crude is easier and cheaper to refine, but supplies have been running low. There's plenty of heavy, sour crude available in the world, but refineries, particularly those in the U.S., have to undergo costly retooling to handle it.
The 13 nations that make up OPEC are responsible for 40 percent of the world's oil production and hold the majority of the world's oil reserves, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The United States depends heavily on foreign oil supplies. In July 2008, the United States imported about 13 million barrels of oil and petroleum products per day.
After seeing how much oil the United States imports, it may be surprising to know that the United States is the world's third largest producer of crude oil. The biggest production region is around the Gulf of Mexico, and the largest producing state is Texas. The Gulf Coast region is home to two important producing areas: the Permian Basin, located in west-central Texas and eastern New Mexico, and the federal offshore portion of the Gulf. Other big oil-producing states include Alaska, Louisiana, California, Oklahoma and Arizona.
Want the world's cheapest tank of gas? Take a trip to Venezuela, where gas is 12 cents a gallon. At the other end of the spectrum is Sierra Leone, where gas is $18.62 per gallon.