NEW YORK - The United States is increasing its oil production faster than ever. And American drivers are guzzling less gas.
But the national average price of a gallon of gas has surged to $3.69 a gallon. And it's expected to go higher -- perhaps approaching $4 by May.
Last year, U.S. oil output rose 14 percent to 6.5 million barrels a day -- a record increase. Meanwhile, U.S. gasoline demand is at its lowest level since 2001, as people switch to more fuel-efficient cars.
The experts say the laws of supply and demand haven't been repealed. They're working -- but not the way U.S. drivers want them to.
U.S. drivers compete with drivers around the world for every gallon of gas. And as the economies of Asia and Latin America expand, their energy consumption is rising. That puts pressure on fuel supplies and prices everywhere.
While the U.S. still consumes more oil than any other country, imports are falling. That leaves China, the world's largest oil importer, as the single biggest influence on global demand. And its consumption has risen 28 percent in five years.
Other factors making gas more expensive are high crude oil prices and temporary shutdowns of refineries in the winter.
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