Gas prices have familiar look as summer nears
NEW YORK -- The price of gasoline looks familiar this Memorial Day. For the third year in a row, the national average will be within a penny or two of $3.64 per gallon.
Stability wasn't always the norm. Between 2003 and 2008 average retail gasoline prices more than doubled, reaching an all-time high of $4.11 per gallon in 2008. Prices then collapsed as the U.S. plunged into recession. But after a two-year run-up between 2009 and 2011, the price of gasoline has remained in a range of roughly $3.25 to $3.75 per gallon.
Drivers can handle that, according to AAA, and are ready to head out for Memorial Day driving trips in the highest numbers since 2005. "It is unlikely that gas prices will have a significant effect on travel plans compared to a year ago," AAA wrote in its annual Memorial Day forecast.
Steady gasoline prices are largely the result of relatively steady crude oil prices, even though there has been a long list of global supply disruptions and political turmoil that typically would push the price of oil higher.
Sanctions have sharply cut output from Iran, once the world's third largest oil exporter. Libya went through civil war, and labor and political disruptions continue to limit its exports. Venezuela's oil output has been steadily declining for a decade. Most recently, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is raising concerns that sanctions will impact production or exports from Russia, the world's second largest exporter after Saudi Arabia.
But rising crude output in countries such as the U.S., Canada and Brazil have offset the declining supply elsewhere, helping to keep prices steady.
Approaching this Memorial Day, the national average is $3.65 per gallon, according to AAA, OPIS and Wright Express. Last year on the holiday it was $3.63 per gallon. In 2012 it was $3.64.
The story is similar with other fuels. Through the first quarter of this year airlines are paying $3.03 per gallon for jet fuel -- exactly the same they paid on average for all of last year, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. The average price of diesel, $3.93 per gallon, is a nickel higher than last year.
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