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The rapid rise in U.S. production is not doing much at present to hold down global crude and gasoline prices, however, which are set on world commodity exchanges in London and New York. The soaring demand for oil in China and other emerging nations is keeping a floor under premium crude prices at about $100 a barrel in London, as supplies remain tight in much of the rest of the world.

Pump prices in the U.S. hit a record for February two weeks ago before declining to $3.71 a gallon on average. The energy agency is predicting that pump prices will stay in the current range through the spring as U.S. refiners gear up for the peak summer driving season, before falling crude prices start to draw gas prices back down again. The agency expects gas prices to average $3.50 in the second half of the year.