NEW YORK — Drivers won’t get much of a break on gasoline prices this summer, according to the Energy Department.
The national average price is forecast to fall — by just one cent — to $3.57 a gallon between April and September, the months when Americans do most of their driving.
Still, that would be the lowest average summer price since 2010.
For the year, the department’s Energy Information Administration expects gasoline to average $3.45 a gallon, down from $3.51 last year and also the lowest since 2010.
World demand for oil is growing, but supplies are growing faster than demand, thanks to higher production in the United States, Canada, and elsewhere. That will keep a lid on the price of crude and gasoline.
U.S. drivers are expected to burn slightly more gasoline than they did last year, according to the EIA. More people will drive more miles as the economy continues to improve, but they are driving more fuel efficient cars. That will prevent gasoline demand from rising as fast as the number of miles driven.
EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski warned in a conference call with reporters Tuesday that unexpected factors such as refinery outages, pipeline problems, or geopolitical events that disrupt crude flows could send prices quickly higher.
The sudden return of supplies could also send prices lower. The average price of gasoline last summer was five cents lower than what EIA had forecast last spring.
The average price of gasoline in the United States was $3.57 a gallon Tuesday, according to GasBud-dy.com, which can be found at toledoblade.com/gas. That’s less than a penny lower than last year.
It has risen steadily since it was $3.27 in early February, as it does almost every late winter and early spring while refiners shut plants for maintenance and switch to more expensive summer blends of gasoline designed to meet clean air rules.
Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at OPIS and GasBud-dy.com, predicts gasoline will continue to rise slightly until it peaks at about $3.65 a gallon in late April, before drifting lower.
That would make for an annual peak lower than last year’s $3.79 a gallon and 2012’s $3.94 a gallon.
In the Toledo area Tuesday, the average price was $3.62, according to GasBuddy.com. That was up 8 cents from Monday and 18 cents higher than a year ago.