Driving less, paying more


It’s early December and already American drivers have spent over $1 billion more for gasoline this year than during all of 2010, even though demand has fallen 4%. This year will also break the previous all-time record set in 2008.

The major reason for the record-setting gas spending in 2011 was that oil prices were consistently high all year. And that probably brought joy at the other end of the pipeline. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is on pace to top $1 trillion in net oil exports for the first time, or 29% more than last year.

More domestic oil is being pumped now, but where’s it going?

But increasing amounts of oil produced in the U.S. are going to other countries. For the last three weeks, U.S. refineries have had a record high level of fuel exports, averaging about 2,984,000 barrels a day to markets overseas, the Energy Department said.

That was more than 600,000 barrels a day higher than last year and more than twice as much as was exported in 2008.

And gasoline prices aren’t expected to fall any time soon.