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[ Outlook for Gas Prices: A Bit Lower This Summer ]

Gasoline prices for U.S. drivers will be about six cents lower on average this summer compared to last year, according to a new forecast. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts that the average retail price for a gallon of regular gasoline will be $3.63, compared to $3.69 last year. That’s only a slight bump up from the current average of $3.60, cited in the EIA’s weekly gas price survey.

“With more fuel-efficient cars and trucks on the highways and expected gasoline prices below last year’s level, Americans will have lower motor fuel expenses this year,” said EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski in prepared comments. The EIA released its summer gas price analysis Tuesday as part of its latest Short Term Energy Outlook. (See related story: “Crude Reality: Gas Prices Rocket Because They Can.”)

The dip in price is “due in large part to slightly lower crude oil prices that account for 65 percent of the pump price,” Sieminski said. Diesel prices are expected to dip by just a penny to $3.94 per gallon.

The West Coast will continue to see the highest prices among regions in the U.S., according to the EIA. Gasoline there is expected to average $3.89 a gallon. The Gulf Coast will enjoy the lowest average: $3.47.

Despite periodic spikes—refinery woes and Hurricane Isaac led prices above  $3.80 last fall—drivers have not seen anything close to the all-time peak of $4.11 reached in July of 2008.

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