EIA says gas prices likely to stabilize

By Palm Beach Business.com

DELRAY BEACH — When it comes to energy prices, expect more of the same for the next year or so.

That’s the latest projection from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the federal agency that tracks all things fuel.

The report, released Tuesday, says gasoline prices are expected to stay near current levels but will be strongly influenced by any changes in crude oil prices. Oil prices have fluctuated this year from as low as about $34 a barrel to as high as $72.04 on June 12. Prices have retreated to $62.93 at the close of trading Tuesday.

Gasoline futures have sunk as well, from $2.11 a gallon on June 12 to about $1.72 Wednesday.

EIA expects regular gas to average $2.36 at the pump for 2009, rising to $2.69 a gallon next year as demand rises from a presumably recovering economy.

EIA’s weekly look at gasoline prices pegged regular at an average of $2.612 a gallon, down from $2.642 last week and $2.624 a month ago.

In Florida, regular is averaging $2.63 a gallon, down from $2.668 a week ago, but higher than the $2.564 a month ago.

AAA’s Fuel Gauge report puts the Palm Beach County average at $2.716 a gallon as of Tuesday, down from $2.751 a week ago.

As usual, Palm Beach County has the highest gas prices in the state, with Miami-Dade second at $2.698. Broward County averages $2.669 a gallon.
The cheapest gas: Pensacola at $2.55 a gallon.

AAA’s weekly fuel briefing cited the continuing decline in consumer demand coupled with the highest unemployment rate seen in 26 years as forces pushing down gas prices.

Additionally, the International Energy Agency, the Paris-based research organization that monitors worldwide supply and consumption patterns, says that demand for transportation fuels is unlikely to return to former highs because of advances in fuel efficiency and altered driving habits, and it reported that “current fuel consumption levels may well be seen in retrospect as the peak of U.S. oil demand.”

Meanwhile diesel prices continue to slide. Once higher than premium gasoline, diesel is now at $2.594 a gallon nationally — about two cents cheaper than regular.

AAA put the average price of diesel at $2.704 a gallon in Palm Beach County.

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