NEW YORK Gasoline is near the highest it has ever been for this time of year, just ahead of the Labor Day weekend.
In Nashville the average price at the pump has edged up by a nickel to $3.48 per gallon, compared with $3.43 a week ago, the latest AAA fuel gauge survey shows.
The run-up in oil prices this year, combined with a rash of refining problems throughout the U.S., has boosted pump prices across the country. The national average on Thursday was $3.629 per gallon. Drivers are paying more for gasoline this Sept. 1 than in any other year except 2008, when pump prices hit an average of $3.686.
Retail gas prices are rising in the U.S. even though motorists are buying less. Analysts say they have been pushed higher by a rise in international gasoline demand. Americans may be using less, but drivers in developing nations are using more.
It is all part of being in a global market, said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.
The U.S. is using so little gasoline now that it has been a net exporter of refined fuels to other countries for the past nine weeks. Thats typical for OPEC countries, but it is extremely rare in the U.S.
You have to go back years and years, Kloza said. I havent found a time when weve been a net exporter for that many weeks.
Most of those exports head to Mexico and Canada. The U.S. also sends fuel to dozens of other countries, including the Netherlands, Singapore, Japan, Ecuador, Panama, Chile and Colombia.