WASHINGTON – Retail gasoline prices climbed to a record national average of $2.153 a gallon in the latest week as higher crude oil prices were passed on to motorists, the U.S. government said Monday.
The national average pump price for regular unleaded gasoline rose 4.4 cents, according to a weekly survey of more than 800 service stations by the Energy Information Administration (search) (EIA). The new price is 39.5 cents per gallon higher than one year ago.
As more drivers flock to U.S. highways with the summer driving season approaching, the Energy Department's (search) analytical arm has said average gasoline prices will climb above $2.15 a gallon this spring. When adjusted for inflation, the most expensive price at the pump was $3.08 a gallon in March 1981.
Crude oil prices, responsible for 52 percent of the cost of a gallon of gasoline, have soared in recent months amid high global demand and limited refinery capacity. Crude for May delivery fell 79 cents to settle at $54.05 a barrel on Monday.
The government's weekly retail gasoline report showed the average U.S. pump price was highest on the West Coast, where prices rose 6.0 cents to an average of $2.318 per gallon.
The Gulf Coast (search) region had the cheapest gasoline, rising 5.7 cents to $2.079 a gallon during the last week, EIA said.
Among the 10 major urban areas highlighted by EIA, Houston pump prices were the cheapest at $2.038 per gallon, up 6.6 cents. The most expensive city was Los Angeles where prices jumped 4.4 cents to $2.397.
The national price for cleaner-burning reformulated gasoline (search), sold at about one-third of the stations in cities and smoggier areas, rose 4.8 cents to $2.186 a gallon.
U.S. truckers saw retail diesel prices rise 0.5 cents to an average $2.249 per gallon last week, EIA said. The average cost for a gallon of diesel is 60.7 cents per gallon higher than it was one year ago.