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Have Summer Gasoline Prices Peaked?


Gasoline has risen more than $1 per gallon so far this year, and by nearly $0.60 per gallon since the beginning of May, reports the Energy Information Administration (EIA). However, gasoline prices also posted a decrease in the last week and they remain well below last summer's record highs.

So could the worst be over for the summer?

There's a good chance, says the EIA.

U.S. retail gasoline prices are driven by a number of factors, but the most important are the world price of crude oil and the supply and demand balance here in the U.S.

Last year record crude oil prices drove retail gasoline prices to U.S. record highs—more than $4.11 per gallon in early July 2008.

This year, however, crude oil prices are just about half what they were last summer, and U.S. supply is more plentiful, even in the face of increased demand.

After rising steadily for eight weeks, the U.S. crude oil price dropped back slightly in the last week of June, to $65.92 per barrel. Likewise, retail gasoline prices have fallen some $0.14 from their mid-June highs, says EIA, thanks to "rising refinery product and imports" pushed inventories up.

"As the summer progresses, expected increases in demand due to vacation travel can likely be met by higher refinery production and imports, since these supply sources have met significantly higher demand levels in recent years," EIA explains.

"Barring an unexpected supply interruption or international price shock, the June 22 price of $2.69 per gallon may be the highest weekly regular gasoline price of the summer of 2009," EIA adds. Read the full report here.