Answer by Rick Bateman
Most of what you're looking for can be found here, nice chart and everything.
Something else, though. Oil operates in a futures market, and is a global commodity, which makes for an interesting situation. Approving production now for a coming supply will lower prices now because of how the market is structured.
Oil can be bought at a price depending on what is thought to be the future cost. This is good for consumers, despite stories of "speculators" moving prices. We've all done this, when we pass by one gas station thinking that another down the road usually has less expensive fuel, or the price is on the way down so we let the tank get lower than we normally would before refueling. We speculate who (which grocery store) will have a better price when (pre-holiday sale, coupons in Sunday's paper) on a very regular basis.
It is tricky with oil, since one must factor in known recoverable resources, possible advances in technology, political situation (the United States) or political stability (Libya), et al. In short, hundreds of companies are hedging their bets. When Libyan oil production went from 1.6 million bbl per day to zero during their civil war, the lost of that capacity was hedged by other countries stating they would up their capacity in the future to make up for the loss, and contracts were created stating thus. This lessens volatility and stabilizes prices.
In the global market, this can helps to stabilize prices for goods and services also. Southwest Airlines had great success buying fuel at less than half the cost of their competitors for a years. They've also lost on the gamble, while others have won. Increased competition is better for the consumer, in the end. We pick who won, the others can live and learn.
It's a lot and it's complicated, sorry about that. I tried to make it easier for those who don't read the Wall Street Journal as much as I do (I also work in investments).