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Energy Department lowers gas price forecast

May 8, 2013 at 8:18 AM

WASHINGTON, May 8 (UPI) -- U.S. consumers should pay about $3.53 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline this summer, down from last year's average, the government said.

The U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration said the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline for the week ending Monday was $3.53, down about 25 cents year-on-year. Motor group AAA reports prices Wednesday were as high as $3.97 in Illinois and as low as $3.23 in South Carolina.

The EIA said it expects retail prices for the summer to level at about $3.53 for a gallon of regular unleaded, lower than it predicted last month.

The EIA pointed out that prices vary widely across the country and spikes could occur as refiners switch to summer blends of gasoline, which are more expensive to produce than winter blends.

Part of the reason for lower gasoline prices was crude oil markets conditions. Bloomberg News reports the price for Brent crude oil, a benchmark for imports, was down more than 7 percent from last year while the U.S. West Texas Intermediate was down more than 2 percent year-on-year.

The EIA said total liquid fuels consumption for the first quarter of 2013 was up because of colder weather but that was offset by a general decline in gasoline consumption.

Crude oil production in the United States was an average of 7.1 million barrels per day for this year.

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