U.S. motorists are expected to pay an average of $2.74 per gallon this summer for regular gasoline, the highest summer price in four years, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The projected price for the summer, which includes April through September, is 10.4% or 26 cents per gallon higher than the average price in summer 2017, and the rise reflects changes in crude oil prices.
In 2018, the amount of money households are expected to spend on gasoline will rise 9.5%, or by nearly $200, to about $2,300, from 2017. The price for a gallon of gas will rise to $2.79 in May before it falls to $2.65 per gallon in September. Gas prices often increase in the summer as demand rises, according to the EIA. During the summer, federal and state environmental regulations require the use of summer-grade gasoline, which costs more to produce. For 2018, the average price of regular gas is expected to be $2.64 per gallon.
U.S. gasoline prices tend to reflect price changes in Brent crude oil, the global benchmark for oil prices. Brent crude oil prices are expected to rise 23.5%, or by $12 per barrel, to $63 a barrel this summer, from the same period in 2017, according to the EIA. The price has risen partly because of extensions in crude oil production cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Wholesale gasoline margins, or the difference between the wholesale price of gasoline and Brent crude oil price, are expected to decline 4.3%, or by 2 cents per gallon, to 46 cents per gallon this summer, from the same period in 2017. However, gasoline exports and domestic consumption are expected to rise, leading to higher gasoline yields this summer, as gasoline production will be nearly 170,000 barrels per day more than last summer.
U.S. motor gasoline consumption is expected to rise 0.2% to 9.6 million barrels per day this summer, according to the EIA. Summer highway travel should increase 1.3%, but the rise will be offset by a 1.2% increase in vehicle fuel efficiency. This summer, average gasoline prices will range between $2.45 per gallon in the Gulf Coast region, which includes Arkansas, and $3.22 per gallon in the West Coast region.
In Arkansas, the average price for a gallon of regular gas has risen 10.2%, or by 22 cents, to $2.41 as of April 12, from the same time in 2017, according to the AAA. The U.S. average price has risen 11.4%, or by 27 cents, to $2.68 a gallon.