Arkansas pump prices will likely top $3 gallon during the upcoming summer traveling season.
Regular-grade gasoline retail prices, which averaged $2.44 per gallon last summer, are projected to average $2.92 per gallon during the current driving season, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.
In its weekly petroleum report, the EIA said the monthly average gasoline price is expected to peak at about $2.97 per gallon in early summer. "Average U.S. pump prices likely will exceed $3 per gallon at times during the forthcoming spring and summer driving season," the EIA said in its summer outlook review.
Historically, U.S. pump prices often reflect shifts in crude oil inventories and demand, although wars, natural disasters, weather, OPEC actions and other economic factors have drastically affected that trend in recent years.
In Monday’s trading session, light, sweet crude for May delivery closed down 58 cents to $84.34 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil prices had fallen slightly from last week’s 17-month high near $87 a barrel. Analysts say oil demand continues to trend below historical levels as consumers and businesses still have concerns about the recovering economy.
The EIA, which is housed within the U.S. Energy Department, warned that the current energy price forecasts are "highly uncertain." "Both recent experience and the sizable participation in near-term futures options contracts (with a wide range of strike prices) clearly demonstrate that prices can move within a wide range in a relatively short period," the EIA said.
In Arkansas, pump prices have been trending up sharply in recent weeks. Since the beginning of March, the price for regular unleaded gasoline has jumped from an average of $2.59 per gallon to $2.74 per gallon today, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge.