The oddities and often rapid changes in price are completely in line with a system that has no reserve. Every little upset causes tight supply and price spikes.
This situation has been brewing for exactly thirty years. In 1977, an environmental regulation called New Source Review was implemented by the EPA. I can even give you the regulatory cite - 40 CFR 52.21. If you have severe insomnia, call me and I'll explain it, but the way it has been applied has served to completely halt energy infrastructure and heavy industrial development in its tracks every since 1977.
Think about this: From the time Col. Drake hit oil in Titusville, PA in1857 until 1977, there was at least one refinery built (often scores) in every decade. Through the Civil War, the Indian wars, the Spanish-American War, world War I and World War II Korea and Vietnam. the oil industry kept adding capacity and modernizing refinerys. Refineries were built during the "Panics" and "Depressions" of the late 1800s and there were even a few refineries built during the Great Depression. The Great Depression, for pete's sake...do times get harder? but they still built refineries. But New Source Review trumped all of that. New Source Review made it illegal as a practical matter to build a new profitable refinery or expand anexisting refinery. Other programs caused about a third of the refineries existing in the US to be closed down.
Further, since 1977, the population and the GDP and energy use in the US have increased substantially in those thirty years. An industry that had 40% reserve now have negative reserve. The US now imports refined product as well as crude oil. Given that fact there is no reserve and demand continues to go up, it is surprising the prices are as low and as stable as they are.
, New Source Review is largely responsible for a lot of US industry going offshore. No new base load power plants, integrated steel mills, chemical plants or plastics plants have been built since that accursed year.