WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- The U.S. Energy Department said it expects gasoline prices for 2013 to average $3.55 per gallon, down 8 cents compared to last year's estimates.
Regional markets in the United States are experiencing a price spike. Motor group AAA reports drivers in New York state Wednesday paid, on average, $3.94 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline, up more than 20 cents from January.
California drivers paid $4.07 per gallon Wednesday, up 45 cents compared to January. AAA said the national average Wednesday was $3.61.
The Energy Department's Energy Information Administration reports that a decline in crude oil prices may push gasoline prices lower, on average, for the year when compared to past retail prices.
EIA said it expects gasoline prices for 2013 to average $3.55 per gallon in 2013 and $3.39 per gallon in 2014. While more than 10 cents less than last year, those forecasts are 11 cents and 4 cents higher, respectively, than the agency predicted in January.
The agency said it expected Brent crude oil prices to level off at around $109 per barrel for the year. The average price last year was listed by the EIA as $112 per barrel and hit $119 in early February.
EIA estimates that crude oil prices account for the bulk of the price at the pump. Regional refinery issues have added to retail gasoline price strains.