NEW YORK – While U.S. retail gasoline prices fell sharply in the last week, the national pump price should stay above $2.60 a gallon for the summer, the government's top energy forecasting agency said Wednesday.
The national price for regular unleaded gasoline dropped 6.4 cents over the last week to $2.88 a gallon, as crude oil costs declined. Consumers are still paying 76 cents a gallon more at the pump than they were a year ago heading into the Memorial Day holiday weekend, when the busy summer driving vacation period begins.
The federal Energy Information Administration said the average gasoline price won't fall below $2.60 throughout the entire summer "even absent any damage due to hurricanes or additional crude oil supply disruptions overseas."
If any storms do disrupt oil production in the Gulf of Mexico or shut refineries onshore, fuel prices would soar, according to the EIA.
Despite high prices, gasoline demand will remain strong and also put upward pressure on pump costs, the EIA said.
"Regardless of how the summer unfolds, it is nearly certain that gasoline prices will remain relatively high," the agency said.