U.S. refineries exported a record amount of refined fuels in 2011 to markets in South America, Central America and Europe. It was one reason why Americans spent a record amount on gasoline this year: Supplies that might have helped lower prices here had been shipped abroad.
In 2007, U.S. exports of all kinds of fuel held steady throughout the year at 1.24 million to 1.25 million barrels a day, according to Energy Department statistics.
But by 2011, exports of diesel, gasoline and other products surged. In November and December, U.S. fuel exports averaged between 2.77 million and 2.89 million barrels a day, the highest ever.
Meanwhile, U.S. drivers paid an average of about $3.50 a gallon for gasoline during the year, also the highest ever.
On Friday, Californians were paying an average of $3.602 for a gallon of regular gasoline, 28.7 cents a gallon more than they have ever paid on a Dec. 30, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. Nationally, the average cost for a gallon of regular Friday was $3.269, or 19.8 cents a gallon more than ever on a Dec. 30.