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Have Gas Prices Peaked for the Year?

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Due to stable crude oil costs and refineries completing their seasonal maintenance, there is a good chance that average U.S. gas prices will drop soon, resulting in the cheapest summertime gas prices since 2009, according to the latest AAA Monthly Gas Price Report. The current average price is $2.75 per gallon, the highest average of the year.

2015 could be the year of the summer road trip with lower gas prices motivating millions of people to travel, AAA said. Many drivers will likely save hundreds of dollars this summer as gas prices remain more affordable than in recent years.

Summer travel is likely to be busy, with six in 10 Americans saying they are more likely to take a road trip of 50 miles or more in 2015 if gas prices remain near recent levels. This follows an AAA forecast of 33 million driving for Memorial Day weekend, the highest total in a decade. Additionally, the Energy Information Administration recently estimated that gasoline demand during the week before Memorial Day was the highest weekly total since August 2007, which may indicate many drivers are taking advantage of lower gas prices to travel.

Since late January, average U.S. gas prices have increased by 71 cents per gallon, marking the largest seasonal increase since 2012, and average prices increased 26 out of 31 days in May for a total of 17 cents per gallon, marking the largest increase for the month since 2009. Seasonal refinery issues and rising oil costs were factors in this rate of increase.

In June, gas prices often decline or remain flat as refineries complete seasonal maintenance and increase production for the summer driving season. Over the past five years, gas prices declined by an average of 12 cents per gallon during the month of June. The same production trend will likely continue this year, further increasing abundant gas supplies.

The average price of gas in May was $2.69 per gallon, the lowest average for the month since 2009, a steep drop from the average of $3.66 per gallon in May 2014.

Currently, the only states in the country with average gas prices above $3 per gallon are in the western states: California ($3.70), Hawaii ($3.30), Nevada ($3.30), Alaska ($3.30), Washington ($3.06), Oregon ($3.03) and Utah ($3.03). Gas prices under $2.50 per gallon are more common in the central and southeastern states: Mississippi ($2.44), South Carolina ($2.44), Oklahoma ($2.46), Arkansas ($2.47), Louisiana ($2.48), Missouri ($2.48), Tennessee ($2.49) and Alabama ($2.49).

Approximately 87 percent of U.S. gas stations are still selling gas for less than $3 per gallon. One year ago, 99.99 percent of gas stations were selling gas above that price, AAA said. About 25 percent of gas stations are still selling gas for less than $2.50 per gallon.

The most common price in the country as of June 1 is $2.599 per gallon, compared to $3.599 per gallon one year ago.

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