Perhaps I'm just too cynical for my own good. Perhaps this is just coincidence. But consider the following:
The U.S. economy is in a weakened state. Oil companies announce huge, record profits. Gasoline goes up tremendously and then stays that way for a year. Then the oil companies announce larger profits and gasoline goes up a little further. The Oil Party, in control of government, realizes that it's in serious trouble in the upcoming elections. It can do nothing about it's failed foreign policies, so it puts out missives to it's shareholders asking for any sort of assistance. It's biggest leaders, the oil companies, step in in an attempt to bolster it's lawmaker's chances at re-election.
Political theater follows. Members of Congress, eager to demonstrate that they are working for the public and are not beholden to the interests of oil companies hold hearings when gasoline prices spike. Nothing happens as a result, but the first act is hoped to be a resounding success.
Hearing nothing back from constituents, the Congress reports back to it's owners this fact and the owners announce new, rich earnings and prices at the pump remain steady.
Next, one company who runs a portion of an Alaskan pipeline announces that it might have to close the entire line. Prices spike. Consumers and corporations, already feeling the drag on the economy via the higher energy costs finally protest that this is too much. A few days later, the pipeline company announces that only half of the field need be closed. More rumbling in Congress as another toothless committee grills oil executives who plead the fifth. Nothing else is done. End Act 2.
Act three begins with discussion of oil prices falling. The pipeline company announces that work has continued faster than anticipated. "Analysts" (really, paid shills for investors and oil companies) foresee continuing falling prices. The Oil Party waits, hoping that this boost from it's shareholders is just what it needs to maintain some dignity after the upcoming elections and, perhaps, hold on to one or both houses of Congress. However, the Oil Party is still nervous for the oil companies, rich as they are from the recent profits, are playing from both sides of the deck and enriching the opposition, Crude Party - just in case the Oil Party falters and we end up with a Crude-Oil split. All the better to have influence on both sides as an insurance policy.