Spending on gas breaks record in 2011

Dec. 10, 2011 at 12:51 AM
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LOS ANGELES, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- High oil prices have driven U.S. spending on gasoline to a record in 2011, with drivers spending $100 billion more than they did in 2010, a report said Friday.

The Oil Price Information Service said the total so far is $448 billion with three weeks to go in 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is on track for a record year. The 12 countries in OPEC are responsible for 40 percent of global oil production, and their exports are expected to exceed $1 trillion.

Drivers in the United States Friday were paying an average of $3.293 for a gallon of regular, the highest price ever Dec. 9. That was 28.5 cents more than the previous high in 2007 and 31.8 cents more than last year.

OPEC is to discuss whether to raise production, which would bring prices down, at a meeting next week. Analysts do not expect any change, although cheaper oil would give Europe and the United States an economic boost.

"They won't do anything," said Fadel Gheit, Oppenheimer's senior oil analyst. "They can lay the blame on the banking sectors and debt and they are happy to keep providing oil at what are record prices for this time of the year."

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