A slow but steady growth in U.S. gasoline consumption is expected to drive prices at the pump for regular-grade gasoline above $3 per gallon by spring or summer, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) within the U.S. Department of Energy.
The EIA’s latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, released on Dec. 12, 2009, projects that regular-grade gasoline prices will average $2.84 per gallon in 2010, rising to $2.94 per gallon in 2011. Retail prices for diesel fuel will also escalate, averaging $2.98 per gallon in 2010 and $3.14 per gallon in 2011.
Meanwhile, crude oil prices actually fell in Dec. 2009, averaging only $74.50 per barrel, although prices were back up to $79 per barrel by the end of the month. The EIA expects crude oil spot prices to weaken over the next few months before regaining strength, gradually rising to $85 per barrel by the end of 2011.