NEW YORK, May 3 (UPI) -- The United States for the first time in nearly 20 years has become a net exporter of fuel as domestic consumers face with high gasoline prices, data indicate.
Records from the U.S. Energy Department indicate that the United States, the world's biggest consumer of oil, exported more gas than it purchased from the global market for the first time in years.
Joe Gorder, executive vice president at U.S. refiner Valero Energy, said the trend in exports is driven by rising demand in Latin America.
"I do believe that we are seeing just a long-term trend here that's going to allow Gulf Coast refiners to continue to export barrels," he told the Financial Times.
Gasoline is cheaper along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico where many of the country's refiners are located. Conflict in the Middle East, however, helped push oil prices to post-recession highs, meaning its more profitable to sell oil products overseas than to the domestic market.
Russia last week said it was increasing tariffs on oil products to cope with record prices and gasoline shortages at home. With gasoline topping $4 per gallon in most U.S. markets, U.S. President Barack Obama said he would probe the effects that market speculators have on oil and gasoline prices.