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Gas prices to rise in 2013, says Energy department

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Mario Anzuoni/Reuters/File

(Read caption) Gasoline drips off a nozzle during refueling at a gas station in Altadena, Calif. A combination of rising prices and increasingly efficient cars may not be reducing gasoline use, Ingram writes, but nor is it increasing.

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The price of gasoline will creep up faster than expected, the U.S. Department of Energy's latest figures show.

Its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook had previously put regular-grade gasoline at an average of $3.44 per gallon, but it's now expected to reach 11 cents higher.

That's still lower than 2012 prices, according toBloomberg. The average price of gas last year was $3.63 per gallon. 2014 may be cheaper still, at $3.39--though that estimate has risen from the previous $3.34 figure.

On-highway diesel prices are higher, due to market conditions and strong demand for exports. Prices are expected to average $3.92 per gallon in 2013, and $3.82 per gallon in 2014. Both these figures represent a drop from 2012's $3.97 per gallon. 

Gasoline consumption is remaining fairly static, the DoE's figures unchanged at 8.73 million barrels per day. Last year's figures were around 10,000 barrels per day lower, with 2014 demand expected to be the same as 2012.

The slight rise in prices is due partly to an increase in the price of crude oil, and refinery outages in January both in the U.S. and Europe.

A peak of $3.73 per gallon is expected in May, due to the usual switch to summer-grade gasoline and the seasonal increase in demand.

Falling gasoline and diesel prices typically lead to drivers buying less efficient cars, though recent figures have shown the average efficiency of new vehicles sold is still increasing.

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8.73 million barrels of gasoline per day is still an enormous amount, but the constant figure does suggest that a combination of rising prices and increasingly efficient cars may not be reducing gasoline use, but nor is it increasing.


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