At Tuesday’s close of formal trading on the NYMEX, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil settled at $93.19 per barrel, up 10 cents on the day. This is the highest settlement price since Sept. 18 but is still well below the 2012 high of $109.77 per barrel registered Feb. 24.
Gasoline prices this year will be less expensive than in 2012 as a result of increased domestic oil production and lower demand, according to AAA.
The national average price of gasoline should peak at $3.60 to $3.80 per gallon, barring any significant, unanticipated events, which compares to a peak of $3.94 a gallon in 2012.
Gasoline prices should rise steadily through April or early May but at a slower pace than last year. As is typical for this time of year, prices will rise as a result of seasonal demand increases and in anticipation of the switchover to more expensive summer-blend gasoline.
Following a late spring peak, national price averages should drop during the first half of the summer to as low as $3.20-$3.40 per gallon before rising again in advance of the Gulf Coast hurricane season and the switchover to winter-blend gasoline. Prices should end the year by falling to low or near-low averages for 2013.
In the first 90 days of 2012, geopolitical tensions with Iran pressured the national price at the pump almost 65 cents higher. Without a similar market moving story to begin 2013, it is likely that the year-over-year discount will widen in the coming months.