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Refiners in the Midwest, Gulf Coast and Rocky Mountains have burned crude at a record pace this year as they take advantage of cheaper, land-locked oil in key supply hubs like Oklahoma, the U.S. Energy Department said.
The high processing rates are part of a national trend, with domestic refiners using more barrels of crude than they have at any point since oil prices fell sharply in the second half of 2008, according to the Energy Information Administration’s latest This Week in Petroleum update.
Through May this year, U.S. crude processing was up about 330,000 barrels a day, or 2.3 percent, over the same period in 2011. In the Midwest, refiner rates during April were the highest for any month since April 2000.
Also, average U.S. pump prices for gasoline and diesel increased for the fourth consecutive week, according to the EIA, the statistical arm of the Energy Department. Retail gasoline averaged $3.51 a gallon nationwide over the past week, up 1 cent from the previous week but down 20 cents from the same period a year earlier. Diesel averaged $3.80 a gallon, up 1 cent.