U.S. gasoline prices expected to remain cheap this summer

April 15, 2009 10:30 am 

WASHINGTON, April 15 — Gasoline retail prices in the United States are expected to stay relatively low during this summer, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected Tuesday.

Regular-grade gasoline prices have increased more than 2 U.S. dollars per gallon, rising slowly but steadily since the beginning of the year in conjunction with rising crude oil prices and refiner margins recovering from recent near-historic low, the government agency said in its Short-Term Energy and Summer Fuels Outlook report.

During this summer's driving season (April through September), regular gasoline retail prices are projected to average 2.23 dollars a gallon, down almost 1.60 dollars from last summer.

The average regular gasoline price for all of 2009 will be 2.17 dollars, increasing to an average of 2.42 dollars in 2010, according to the report.

The EIA report also said that U.S. crude oil production fell by 110,000 barrels a day last year because of Gulf Coast hurricanes, but should rebound by an additional 440,000 barrels to 5.4 million barrels a day this year, the first rise in domestic production since 1991.

Crude oil prices are expected to be about 53 dollars a barrel this year, but to increase to 63 dollars a barrel in 2010, assuming an economic recovery next year.

Meanwhile, U.S. consumption of petroleum products, mainly gasoline and diesel, is forecast to decline for a second year in a row this year because of the economic downturn, the report said.

In addition, the report projected world oil consumption will drop by 1.35 million barrels per day in 2009 compared with year- earlier levels, due to the global economic recession. It assumes the global gross domestic product, weighted by oil consumption, will fall by 0.8 percent this year.

World oil consumption is expected to grow by 1.1 million barrels in 2010, driven by a recovery of global GDP growth to 2.6 percent, the report forecast. (PNA/Xinhua) ALM/ebp

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