EIA: US gasoline prices lowest since 2009 ahead of holiday weekend

US retail gasoline prices averaged $2.32/gal on May 23, a 47¢/gal drop from the same time last year, and the lowest average price just before the Memorial Day holiday weekend since 2009, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

“Lower gasoline prices reflect lower crude oil prices, with the spot price of North Sea Brent crude $16/bbl lower than at the same time last year, despite a price increase of more than $20/bbl since the last week of January,” EIA said.

Average retail gasoline prices for all regions of the country are below their year-ago values. The West Coast price is the highest at $2.66/gal, even though it is 83¢/gal lower than at the same time last year, as the supply disruption that began in 2015 is expected to end once ExxonMobil Corp.’s Torrance refinery in California resumes full operation. The Gulf Coast price is the lowest, at $2.06/gal on May 23.

EIA’s May Short-Term Energy Outlook forecasts the US monthly gasoline price to average $2.21/gal during the 2016 summer driving season, 42¢/gal lower than the average 2015 summer driving season gasoline price. EIA projects the US regular gasoline retail price to average $2.08/gal in 2016 and $2.24/gal in 2017.

The American Automobile Association, in association with IHS Inc., forecasts more than 38 million Americans plan to take trips during the 2016 Memorial Day holiday. That would be the second-highest volume on record. Most of this long holiday weekend travel will be in vehicles, about 89% of the total. Compared with Memorial Day weekend in 2015, travel by vehicle is expected to increase more than other forms of travel.

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