WASHINGTON (AP) _ Motorists can expect an easing of the recent gasoline price surge in coming weeks, with costs averaging about what they did last summer over the heavy vacation driving season, the government said Tuesday.
The Energy Department predicted that the average nationwide cost of regular-grade gasoline would likely peak at $2.87 a gallon in May, up only 7 cents over the average last week.
Prices for regular gasoline has soared since January, increasing by 64 cents a gallon on average nationwide during the last 10 weeks. The nationwide average was $2.80 cents a gallon last week with the fuel at more than $3 a gallon across much of the West Coast.
The summer fuels outlook, released Tuesday by the DOE's Energy Information Administration, said the price of regular-grade gasoline is projected to average $2.81 cents a gallon through the summer driving season, or 3 cents lower than last year.
The EIA said that the recent price surge was attributed to higher crude oil prices, unplanned refinery outages and an increase in demand as well as a decline in gasoline imports.
``The rapid rate of price increase is projected to slow over the next few months,'' said the EIA, the government's energy statistical agency.
It said that the price of crude oil is expected to average $65 a barrel over the summer because of ``tight oil markets and continued international uncertainty'' including tensions involving Iran.
The spot price of crude oil was $61.74 per barrel Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange.