U.S. motorists face several more weeks of climbing gasoline costs, with the pump price forecast to peak in June at a record national average of $2.03 a gallon, 21 cents higher than previously expected, the Energy Information Administration said Tuesday.
Motor fuel prices are rising because of higher crude oil costs, which account for about 45 percent of the price of gasoline.
“Higher crude oil prices and rapid increases in mid-spring spot prices for gasoline have induced an upward shift in the forecast for gasoline pump prices,” the Energy Department’s analytical arm said its latest monthly energy forecast.
For the entire U.S. summer driving season, which runs from April through September, the EIA said it now expects gasoline to average $1.94 a gallon. The seasonwide average is 18 cents higher than the agency previously forecast.
Crude oil traded at the New York Mercantile Exchange jumped to more than $40 a barrel on Tuesday -- the highest since October 1990 — on doubts that OPEC will be able to increase oil output enough to satisfy the world’s appetite.
The EIA said oil production from OPEC, not including Iraq, averaged 25.8 million barrels per day in April, about 2.3 million bpd above the cartel’s official output quota.
Saudi Arabia on Monday called on OPEC to raise its quota by 1.5 million bpd.
The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday it was keeping a close eye on rising energy prices.
“The fund considers that the (announcement) yesterday by Saudi Arabia to propose to the rest of the OPEC-producing countries an increase in the production is a good step to satisfy what is clearly strong demand,” IMF Managing Director Rodrigo Rato told reporters.
U.S. crude oil prices should average between $36 and $37 a barrel for the rest of this year, the agency said.
“Potential price spikes remain a danger given the uncertainties surrounding the continued recovery of output and exports from Iraq, as well as political unrest in Venezuela,” EIA said.