The department's Energy Information Administration published its short-term energy outlook for the season. It said it expected U.S. commuters would pay, on average, about $3.56 for a gallon of regular unleaded for the year and $3.39 per gallon next year. That's compared to the $3.63 average for 2012.
Motor group AAA reports that commuters paid, on average, $3.57 per gallon Wednesday, though some west coast markets saw prices as high as $4.39.
The EIA said it based its predictions on declining prices for crude oil. Brent crude oil prices are expected to level off at around $108 per barrel during the summer, compared to around $106 during the latest trading session.
"Because taxes and retail distribution costs are generally stable, movements in gasoline and diesel prices are driven primarily by changes in both crude oil prices and wholesale margins," EIA stated.
An early season price spike in the United States was attributed to refinery issues, higher crude oil prices and the sustained effects of Hurricane Sandy, a late 2012 storm.
EIA said gasoline prices during the peak summer drive season, which extends to September, should average $3.63 per gallon.
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