WASHINGTON – U.S. consumers will get a modest reprieve at the pump as the average national price for a gallon of gasoline fell 1.1 cents during the past week to $1.877 per gallon, the U.S. government said on Monday.
Pump prices, which have fallen nine out of the last 11 weeks after setting a record high of $2.064 in late May, are still up 30.6 cents from a year ago, according to a weekly survey of more than 800 service stations by the Energy Information Administration (search) (EIA).
Oil prices have surged more than 30 percent this year amid strong demand for gasoline, tight petroleum supplies and crude production disruptions in Iraq (search) and Russia that threaten to curtail global shipments.
U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham (search) on Monday noted rising global crude oil demand as the prime mover behind crude oil prices.
"The biggest thing behind it is that demand continues to rise," Abraham told CNBC television in an interview, after saying the U.S. government will continue to build its strategic oil reserves despite record-high crude oil prices.
NYMEX September crude futures hit a new 21-year record on Monday after threats from an Iraqi militia battling coalition troops shut southern oil exports in that country.
The contract traded as high as $44.98 a barrel before settling at $44.84, up 89 cents from Friday's close. Crude oil prices account for 41 percent of the cost of gasoline.
The average U.S. pump price was the highest on the West Coast, even though prices fell 2.7 cents to an average of $2.035 per gallon, the EIA said.
The U.S. Gulf Coast region again had the cheapest gasoline, falling 0.9 cent to $1.781 a gallon during the last week.
Among the 10 major urban areas highlighted by the EIA, Houston pump prices were the cheapest at $1.740 per gallon, down 0.6 cent. San Francisco was the most expensive even as prices fell 4.8 cents to $2.113 per gallon.
The national price for cleaner-burning reformulated gasoline, sold at about one-third of the gas stations in cities and smoggier areas, fell 1.8 cents to $1.957 a gallon.
U.S. diesel prices rose 3.4 cents to an average $1.814 per gallon last week, the EIA said. The average cost for a gallon of diesel is 32.2 cents per gallon higher than a year ago.