Each one of these steps has a monetary cost associated with it. There are also other costs, such as marketing, accounting, research and development, and environmental costs.
The oil industry is very competitive, and company-specific cost elements are closely guarded from competitors. Publicly owned companies are required to report some information to regulatory agencies and shareholders in filings required by the Securities and Exchange Commission and in their annual reports. This information, however, is usually not sufficient to fully define all of the various cost elements. There is even less information available for privately owned companies or companies owned by foreign governments. Searching through various oil company annual reports, and the information on the Energy Information Administration and other government and non-government websites allows many costs to be defined or at least bracketed.
Crude oil and petroleum product prices have been extremely volatile over the last 15 years. The benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI), traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange, has gone from less than $14 per barrel to over $140 per barrel while wholesale gasoline prices have gone from $0.32 per gallon to over $3.30 per gallon (Figure G-2).