NEW YORK — The news keeps getting better for motorists, and hopefully in turn convenience stores. On the heels of an AAA report that gas prices may have hit the top-end of the spectrum, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said the pain at the pump could soon be less painful, with average prices staying below $4.
In its “Short-term Energy Outlook,” the EIA forecast regular-grade gasoline retail prices to average $3.95 gallon nationally this summer, which it defines as the period from April through September. If realized, that would mark a 6.3-percent increase from the year prior summer season when gasoline sold at retail outlets averaged $3.71 gallon nationally.
The EIA expects prices to hit a peak of $4.01 in May, as CSNews Online previously reported.
For the full year 2012, the EIA is forecasting a $3.81 gallon national average for regular-grade retail gasoline while averaging $3.73 gallon in 2013. That is 20 cents above the 2011 average of $3.53 per gallon.
The outlook for diesel, however, is a bit higher. According to the EIA, retail diesel fuel prices, which averaged $3.94 gallon last summer, are projected to average $4.21 gallon nationally this summer. The monthly price average is forecast to peak at $4.25 gallon in the middle of the summer driving season.
“Daily and weekly national average prices can differ significantly from monthly and seasonal averages, and there are also significant differences across regions, with monthly average prices in some areas exceeding the national average price by 25 cents per gallon or more,” stated the EIA.
The Washington, D.C.-headquartered statistical government body noted that “gasoline and diesel prices are driven primarily by changes in both crude oil prices and wholesale margins,” with taxes and retail distribution costs generally stable.
“The retail price projections reflect higher prices for the average refiner acquisition cost of crude oil,” stated the EIA, anticipating a $10 increase in that cost from last summer with an $114 barrel average for this summer, which equates to $2.71 gallon.