U.S. lowers forecast for summer 2013 gasoline prices

The Energy Information Administration lowered its forecast for summer 2013 gasoline prices.

U.S. consumers will pay an average 16 cents a gallon less for gasoline this summer than a year ago, the statistical arm of the Energy Department said today in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook. The EIA’s April forecast predicted prices would average 6 cents a gallon less than in 2012.

The agency expects regular-grade gasoline will average $3.53 a gallon from April through September, down from the April estimate of $3.63 a gallon. Diesel fuel will average $3.88 a gallon, less than the prior forecast of 3.94.

“U.S. drivers will get a break at the pump this summer as the average gasoline price is now expected to be $3.53 a gallon, 16 cents less than last summer and significantly lower than the $3.78 per gallon peak price reached in late February,” Adam Sieminski, the EIA’s administrator, said in an e-mailed statement.

Lower crude prices will keep motorists’ costs in check, according to the EIA. Brent, the pricing basis for U.S. oil imports, is down 7.1 percent from a year ago, while West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, has dropped 2.2 percent. Regular gasoline, which averaged $3.538 a gallon in the week ended yesterday, is 25.2 cents a gallon below a year earlier, the EIA said yesterday.

Lower Prices

The EIA lowered its forecast for gasoline prices at the pump for all of 2013 and reduced its estimate for demand.

Regular-grade gasoline will average $3.50 a gallon this year, down from last month’s forecast of $3.56. Prices in 2012 averaged $3.63 a gallon.

Prices may average $3.39 in 2014, the department estimated, unchanged from the April forecast.

Gasoline consumption this year will average 8.68 million barrels a day, lower than the 8.69 million in last month’s projection. Demand in 2014 may be 8.69 million barrels a day, down from last month’s forecast of 8.7 million.

Distillate demand, including diesel and heating oil, will be 3.8 million barrels a day this year, up from last month’s outlook of 3.79 million. Consumption in 2014 is estimated to be 3.81 million, unchanged from the previous forecast.