WASHINGTON – The U.S. retail price for gasoline shot up 10 cents over the last week to an average $2.78 a gallon, the highest level since early October, and is expected to keep climbing, the government said Monday.
The national average price for regular unleaded gasoline has soared 29 cents a gallon in the last three weeks and is up 55 cents from a year ago, based on the federal Energy Information Administration's weekly survey of service stations.
Pump prices are likely to go higher as the cost of U.S. crude oil settled at a new record high of $70.40 a barrel in trading Monday at the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil accounts for more than half the cost of making gasoline.
The price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is already way above the EIA's forecast summer average of $2.62, and has topped $3 at service stations in many cities.
The agency has said motor fuel prices should peak in May, but the national average will not reach the all-time high of $3.07 a gallon hit last September after Hurricane Katrina disrupted petroleum supplies.
Prices rose more than 10 cents a gallon in the last week in Chicago, Cleveland, Denver and New York City, the Energy Department's forecasting arm said.
In the EIA's latest weekly survey, the West Coast had the most expensive regional gasoline, with the price up 9.2 cents at $2.84 a gallon. Los Angeles topped the survey of cities, with gasoline up 9 cents at $2.92 a gallon.
The Rocky Mountain states had the cheapest gasoline at $2.57 a gallon, up 8.1 cents. Among major cities, Denver had the most affordable fuel at $2.70, up 10.2 cents.
Separately, the average diesel fuel price paid by truckers jumped 11.1 cents over the last week to $2.77 a gallon, up 51 cents from a year earlier and the highest level since late October, the EIA said.
Truckers on the West Coast paid the most for diesel at $2.88 a gallon, up 6.9 cents. The Gulf Coast region had the cheapest diesel at $2.73 a gallon, up 12.4 cents.