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Fri, Jun 16, 2000
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Gas May Rise 10 Cents From Last Summer
By Tom Doggett  Reuters
WASHINGTON — U.S. gasoline prices this summer driving season are expected to be 9 to 10 cents a gallon higher than a year ago, but that won't slow highway travel, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

P.J. Heller/Reuters
Soaring gasoline prices in southern California, averaging $1.63 per gallon, topped the $2 mark at this Shell station

In its annual driving forecast to be released Thursday, the DOE said the national price for regular unleaded gasoline should average $1.13 a gallon this summer. The increase is due to cuts in world oil production, which have raised crude prices. Crude oil is refined into gasoline.

With solid U.S. economic growth and fuel prices that are still moderate by historical standards, gasoline demand is expected to rise 2 percent from last summer, the DOE said.

Highway travel in the United States could reach 1.4 trillion miles for the season, up 2.1 percent from last year.

Because several refineries that were recently shut in California, summer prices will peak at about $1.18 a gallon in May, earlier than usual, according to the DOE.

"The refinery problems are expected to be largely resolved before the summer is over but not before transmitting extra price pressure elsewhere as supplies from other U.S. regions and abroad are diverted to California," the DOE said.

The national retail price for gasoline reached $1.12 a gallon this week, soaring by 20 cents in the last month after a run-up in crude prices.

"U.S. gasoline stocks are currently at the high end of the normal range, particularly on the East Coast, signifying an adequate supply situation overall," the DOE said.

The price of oil jumped following an agreement last month among OPEC oil producers to remove just over 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) from the world crude market.

Non-OPEC countries Mexico, Norway, Oman and Russia also promised their cooperation and will reduce their own production by another 388,000 bpd, bringing total cuts to 2.1 million bpd.

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