Two new reports, AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report and the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Short Term Energy Outlook, show prices falling after rising rapidly earlier this year. On March 11, AAA said that the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $3.70 per gallon. That price is 12 cents up from February but 5 cents less expensive than a week ago and down 10 cents from the national average price on March 11, 2012. During the first nine days in 2011 and 2012, gas prices rose, increasing by 17 cents and 6 cents, respectively.
AAA said it’s too soon to say if retail gasoline prices have peaked during the spring driving season. Scheduled refinery maintenance and the need for many states to transition to summer-blend gasoline could still push prices up, according to AAA. If prices do go up again, AAA says they will likely peak at a lower price level than in previous years. The company said that in 2011, the 2011 the national average for regular unleaded peaked at $3.98 on May 5, and in 2012, the price peaked at $3.94 on April 5 and 6.
On a regional basis, drivers in 44 states and the District of Columbia are paying less for gasoline than they were a week ago. The largest price drops occurred in the Midwest and Kentucky, according to AAA. Some states are paying more than a week ago, though, including in Hawaii, up 0.2 cents; Oregon, up 1.1 cents; Alaska up 1.1 cents; Wyoming, up 1.8 cents; Washington up 2.0 cents; and Montana, up 3.6 cents.
Regarding oil prices, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said it expects the Brent crude oil spot price to average $108 per barrel in 2013, and $101 per barrel in 2014. The price of Brent crude was $11 per barrel in 2012, and hit $119 per barrel in Feb., 2013. U.S. crude oil production exceeded an average level of 7 million barrels per day in Nov. and Dec. 2012, which EIA said is the highest volume since Dec., 1992. The organization predicts domestic crude oil production to average 7.3 million barrels per day in 2013, and 7.9 million barrels per day in 2014. In terms of demand, the EIA said it expects gasoline consumption will change little during the next two years.