WASHINGTON - With crude oil prices recently topping $60 per barrel, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Energy Information Administration (EIA) now expects crude oil prices to average $59 per barrel for the third quarter of 2005, about $6 higher than projected a month ago and $15 per barrel above the cost this time last year.

According to the EIA's latest "Short-Term Energy Outlook," any imbalances in supply and demand (whether real or perceived) could easily cause light crude oil prices to average greater than $60 per barrel. The EIA report blames increasing demand and lagging production capacity for the high prices, and notes that the hurricane season may contribute to higher prices if oil production is disrupted in the Gulf of Mexico.

As a result, gasoline prices at the pump for the summer driving season (April through September) are now expected to average $2.25 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline. Diesel fuel prices are even higher, and the EIA projects the average price at the pump for diesel fuel to average $2.33 for the summer driving season.

Publication date: 07/25/2005