The summer driving season is set to kick off, a time when gasoline prices spike, but this year don't expect too much pain at the pump, experts say.
Easing tensions with Iran and increased supply are pushing global crude prices down, which will continue to bring gasoline prices down with them.
Earlier this year, tensions with Iran and solid global demand sent oil prices soaring, bringing U.S. gasoline prices to a nationwide average peak of $3.94 in April, according to AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report data.
Concerns grew that prices would reach $5 a gallon as the summer driving season drew closer, but easing tensions in the Middle East, increased OPEC supplies and cooling European and Chinese economies have sent prices falling.
Today, prices are averaging $3.67 a gallon.
"We're getting a bit of a break here,'' says Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service, according to USA Today.
Domestic supplies are at their highest levels since 1990, Kloza adds.
Still, refinery issues have kept prices high on the West Coast, averaging over $4.30 a gallon in California, Oregon and Washington.
"I can't recall a wider variance or a time where prices in some states were up strongly and falling in others," says Patrick DeHaan, senior gas analyst for price-tracker gasbuddy.com, USA Today adds.
Other experts agree that prices should continue falling but point out global conditions can always change and send prices right back rising.
"Drivers are getting a respite," says Rodney L. Waller, a senior vice president at Range Resources, an oil and gas company based in Fort Worth, Texas, the New York Times reports.
"But it’s a tenuous respite based on all the changes in the global oil market and the opening and closings of refineries across the U.S."
Gasoline prices hit a record high $4.11 in 2008.
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