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Energy Department Boosts U.S. Gasoline Price Outlook for 2013

Drivers in the U.S. will pay more at the pump in 2013 than earlier expected, the U.S. Energy Department said.

Regular-grade gasoline will average $3.55 a gallon, up from $3.44 in last month’s forecast, the department’s Energy Information Administration said today in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook. Prices in 2012 averaged $3.63 a gallon.

Prices may average $3.39 in 2014, the department estimated, up from $3.34 in last month’s forecast.

Gasoline consumption this year will average 8.73 million barrels a day, the same as in last month’s projection and up from 8.72 million last year. Demand in 2014 could be 8.72 million barrels a day, down from last month’s forecast of 8.73 million barrels a day.

Distillate demand, including heating oil and diesel, will be 3.77 million barrels a day this year, down from the last month’s outlook of 3.8 million. Consumption in 2014 is estimated to be 3.83 million barrels, the same as last month’s projection.

The department expects households heating primarily with oil to spend an average of about $2,459 during the winter season from Oct. 1 to March 31. That’s 18 percent higher than last winter, as a result of a 4.5 percent gain in prices and a 13 percent increase in consumption. In January, the EIA forecast consumers would spend an average of about $2,558.

About 6 percent of U.S. households depend on heating oil for space heating. The Northeast accounts for about 80 percent of these households.

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