Fuel Prices Ease

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Fuel Prices Ease

CAMARILLO, Calif. -- U.S. average retail gasoline prices fell over the last three weeks, as supplies were plentiful despite rising demand with summer travelers taking to the road, according to the Lundberg survey of 8,000 convenience stores.

The national average for self-serve regular, unleaded gas dropped more than 2 cents to $1.40 a gallon in the three weeks ended June 7, about 29 cents below the level last year, according
Prices at the pumps rose rapidly in the early spring as tensions in the Middle East raised crude oil prices. They have since leveled off as heavy imports from Europe help to build up a big surplus compared to last year, said analyst Trilby Lundberg.

"The biggest factor in the price change over the past three weeks is lower crude oil prices," Lundberg said in a statement. "There is also no shortage of gasoline to meet demand -- there's more than enough supply. If we had a shortage, the price would rise even if crude oil prices were falling."

Gasoline prices have spiked in the past two summers due to increased consumption by vacationing motorists as well as more stringent clean-air fuel requirements imposed during the summer at a third of the nation's pumps to combat smog. Lundberg noted that industrial and agricultural trucking also rises during the summer, boosting demand for gasoline.

She said she does not believe prices will jump soon. "I expect prices to stay the same or fall a bit," she said. "With the one huge caveat that some event in the Middle East could disrupt the flows of oil."

The most expensive gasoline was found in Chicago at about $1.63 a gallon, while the cheapest was found in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at $1.16 a gallon, according to the survey.