WASHINGTON - Contractors can expect that a slow but steady growth in gasoline consumption in the United States will drive prices at the pump for regular-grade gasoline above $3 per gallon by spring or summer, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The EIA’s latest Short-Term Energy Outlook projects that regular-grade gasoline prices will average $2.84 per gallon in 2010, rising to $2.94 per gallon in 2011. Retail prices for diesel fuel will also escalate, averaging $2.98 per gallon in 2010 and $3.14 per gallon in 2011. Meanwhile, crude oil prices actually fell in December 2009, averaging only $74.50 per barrel, although prices were back up to $79 per barrel by the end of the month. The EIA expects crude oil spot prices to weaken over the next few months before regaining strength, gradually rising to $85 per barrel by the end of 2011.