Summer gas prices will be the cheapest in 12 years, U.S. agency predicts

Summer gas prices will be the cheapest in 12 years, U.S. agency predicts

Rob Nikolewski

Drivers across the nation this summer may pay less than they have in years at the pump and that goes for motorists in California, which consistently ranks as the most expensive place in the continental United States to gas up.

“It looks like, optimistically, we may get the lowest prices since 2005 … but it’s probably more likely the average will be similar to what we had in 2009,” said Marie Montgomery Nordhues, spokeswoman for the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Nationally, the story is similar.

“U.S. drivers are expected to pay the cheapest summer gasoline prices in 12 years, as low crude oil prices mean more savings at the pump,” Adam Sieminski, head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, said in a statement as the agency came out with its summer fuels forecast Tuesday.

With the U.S. starting the spring and summer driving season with gasoline inventories nearly 15 million barrels higher than last year, the agency estimated that for all of 2016, the average household will save about $350 on gasoline compared with last year.

The national average for regular grade gasoline is $2.06 a gallon, the lowest for this time of year since 2009.

California’s average gas price, typically the highest in the continental U.S., was $2.77 on Tuesday, down from $3.10 a year earlier, according to the AAA price survey. The Los Angeles average was $2.84, down from $3.15 a year earlier.

“Barring any other problems with our supply, it looks like this could definitely be good news for California drivers,” Montgomery Nordhues said.

In February 2015, an explosion at the Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance led to higher gasoline prices in the state. The South Coast Air Quality Management District voted this month to allow Exxon Mobil to fully restore operations.

“When that’s up and running and making gasoline, then that’s going to take a big hunk of the additional cost out,” said David Hackett, president of Stillwater Associates, a transportation energy consulting company in Irvine.

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