Updated Jun 22, 2018

America's oil boom & gasoline prices: It's complicated

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Note: Prices reflect the average annual price for one gallon of regular unleaded gas. Data: Energy Information Administration; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

U.S. oil production has more than doubled over the last decade, but American drivers haven't always reaped the benefits.

Why it matters: U.S. gasoline prices are priced largely on the global oil market, where America's oil boom has been one of many complex factors affecting prices over the last several years. Casual observers may link our increased oil production with what they pay to fill up their cars' tanks, but they shouldn't, experts say.

"It illustrates how the U.S. is part of a larger global system and how U.S. production levels are only one variable among many that affect the final price of gasoline."
— Jonathan Chanis, senior vice president of policy at Securing America's Energy Future

One level deeper: Gasoline prices are perched at the end of a long pendulum of global oil prices swinging back and forth.

  • Domestic pump prices spiked in 2008 when global oil prices were over $140 a barrel, and then they fell when oil hit $30 a barrel in 2016.
  • Gas prices rose again when OPEC members and Russia agreed to cut production in November 2016.
  • We're now seeing the pendulum swing back toward boosting production, in response to rising oil prices.
  • The price of oil neared $80 a barrel in May, and the average price for a gallon of gas neared $3.00.

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