Gasoline prices may remain stable through summer

A reduction in the cost of crude oil cut the average price of gasoline in the US to $1.5295/gal on Friday, analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday.

US motorists haven�t seen much change in gasoline prices since the cost of crude dipped last month. But�good news for vacationers�an industry observer also doesn�t expect much upswing during the summer.

The Lundberg Survey of 10,000 US stations reported Sunday that the average pump price nationwide, including all grades and taxes, was $1.5295/gal on Friday. That was down 0.25� from Apr. 21, Trilby Lundberg said.

The price compares to the year's high of about $1.60/gal recorded on Mar. 24, which was followed by a nearly 4� plunge from Apr. 7 to Apr. 21 because of lower oil prices.

Lundberg said gas prices may stabilize for a while.

A variety of factors, some linked to the approaching high-volume summer driving season, tend to balance each other and keep the price fairly steady, she says.

US gasoline production is rising to meet summer demand, helping to hold prices down. Lundberg warned, however, that refining costs are also rising as a result of producing summertime anti-smog formulations, and that crude oil prices have risen nearly $1.50/bbl in the past 2 weeks.

Regionally, there are sharp differences in pump prices. Unleaded gasoline dropped an average of 5�/gal in the West but less than 2� in the eastern coastal area from Maine to Florida. In the Midwest, prices rose 6�/gal.

The drops reflected crude oil price cuts, while in the Midwest, prices had fallen earlier. Because of an extensive pipeline system, the area reacts more quickly to changes in crude oil prices and the spot gasoline market, Lundberg said.

The US average price of gasoline, including taxes, at self-serve pumps was $1.4823/gal for regular, $1.5797 for mid-grade, and $1.6638 for premium. At full-service pumps, the average was $1.8114 for regular, $1.901 for mid-grade, and $1.9761 for premium.

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