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.
|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.