Are sky-high oil prices ahead?

One thing about the oil market: it's bound to hold your attention, whether you're an investor looking for growth plays or just a typical car owner.

Certainly if you're an American driver, oil is holding your attention. Just take a look at that gas pump price: a national-average, regular unleaded gasoline price that's risen about 60 percent (!) in six short months, to about $2.63 per gallon, according to data compiled by gasbuddy.com. Moreover, the price rise is all-the-more exasperating because it's occurred while the U.S. economy is in recession, with millions of drivers taken off the road, due to belt-tightening and job-layoffs.

Most of the roughly $1 per gallon rise in gasoline prices stems from the $35 per barrel increase in oil's price since December 2008, to about $71 per barrel on Friday.