Gas Prices

By Tiffany Hsu
April 8, 2015

An ongoing glut of crude oil will give U.S. drivers this summer the lowest seasonal gasoline prices in six years, the government predicts.

Even in California — where prices recently surged a dollar above the national average, sparking accusations of collusion by oil refineries — analysts expect gasoline to be the cheapest it’s been in years.

Barring a natural disaster or other major supply disruptions, prices in the state will continue to fall, said analyst Allison Mac of the fuel-tracking firm GasBuddy.

“We may have already peaked in Los Angeles,” she said. “We’re on pace to have one of the lowest-priced summer driving seasons in a while.”

Nationally, between April and September — historically, the busiest driving season — gasoline will cost an average of $2.45 for a regular gallon at retail, according to a Tuesday forecast from the U.S. Energy Department.

The price, the lowest since 2009, is nearly a third less than the $3.59-a-gallon price during the same period a year earlier, according to the agency’s Energy Information Administration.

Travelers buoyed by a strengthening employment market and improving incomes will use 1.6% more gasoline this summer, according to the agency. But their fuel spending will be the lowest since 2004.

“It will cause people who are buying a new car to maybe change their minds about how fuel-efficient their vehicle has to be,” said David Hackett, president of transportation energy consulting firm Stillwater Associates in Irvine. “They’ll think, ‘I can buy myself an F-150 truck.'”

In large part, the decline reflects a supply that overwhelms demand. Last year, the U.S. was the top producer of petroleum in the world.

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