Despite the dismal economy, motorists may want to take to the road this summer. The federal government says gasoline prices are expected to stay relatively low.
The Energy Information Administration on Tuesday projected regular-grade gasoline to average $2.23 a gallon during the April through September driving season. The monthly average is likely to peak at $2.30 a gallon. That's still a bargain compared to last summer, when gasoline cost an average of $3.81 a gallon and soared for a time past $4.
In recent weeks gas prices have edged higher from their lows in December. Last week gasoline average $2.05 a gallon. The energy agency attributed the increases to slightly higher crude oil costs and refiners trying to recoup some profits.
The EIA report projects crude oil prices to average $53 a barrel this year, but to increase by about $10 a barrel in 2010. But it said a stronger-than-expected economic recovery, lower global production or "more aggressive action to cut production" by the OPEC oil cartel "could lead to a faster and stronger rise in oil prices."
The report said U.S. crude oil production declined by 110,000 barrels a day last year because of Gulf Coast hurricanes, but should rebound by an additional 440,000 barrels to 5.4 million barrels a day this year, the first increase in domestic production since 1991.