"The price of oil began rising in October 2003 and reached record levels in 2004 and again in 2005. As a result of these price increases, consumers' budgets have been under pressure, business costs have risen, and oil producers' profits have increased. The 109th Congress is considering broad energy legislation (H.R. 6), that addresses conditions in the oil and petroleum products markets. A long term explanatory factor for increasing oil prices could be the decline of the world reserve base. The reserves to production ratio is the measure which indicates the world's ability to maintain current production, based on proved reserves. Over the past decade there has been little change in the reserve to production ratio, suggesting that, at least for now, long term forces are not driving up the price of oil. A wide variety of cyclic and short term factors have converged in such a way that the growth of demand has been unexpectedly high causing upward pressure on oil prices. Those factors which have been identified as contributing to the high price of oil include the resumption of relatively rapid growth rates of gross domestic product in many countries around the world, a declining value of the U.S. dollar, gasoline prices, the changing structure of the oil industry, OPEC policies, and the persistently low levels of U.S. crude oil and gasoline inventories."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32530