WASHINGTON — The U.S. Energy Department said that it expects gasoline prices to decline through the summer because of declining crude oil prices and the quick resolution of military action in Iraq.
The department’s summer energy forecast said prices would average $1.56 a gallon this summer, a substantially more optimistic forecast than it issued in March.
The anticipated average price is 17 cents a gallon higher than last summer but close to the prices paid at the pump in the summers of 2000 and 2001.
The Energy Department’s report cautioned that gas prices were likely to range widely in different parts of the country.
Prices in California, for example, were expected to be about $.50 a gallon higher than the national average, in large part because of the state’s transition away from using the MTBE gas additive and some refinery problems.