Gasoline prices will remain low and will generate "the sharpest increase in highway travel" in a decade this summer, the Energy Department predicted Wednesday.
The department said the cost of unleaded regular gasoline likely will average about $1.10 a gallon over the normally high-demand summer months, or about a dime lower than last summer.But motorists can expect the nation's roads and highways to be crowded with an expected 3.8 percent surge in highway travel that will cause gasoline demand to jump.
Even so, Energy Secretary Federico Pena said he anticipates no supply shortages. Motorists will be traveling 1.4 trillion miles this June through August, he said, comparing it to 7,200 trips to the sun and back.
Despite recent attempts by world oil producers to curtail production, petroleum prices remain depressed, leading to some of the cheapest gasoline in years.
Currently, the average price for unleaded regular gasoline is $1.03 a gallon nationwide, according to the Energy Information Administration.
The agency predicted that this summer gas likely will peak at around $1.12 a gallon on average, although it could go as high as $1.18 in some places. Even when prices are low, there usually is a seasonal increase during summer heavy-driving months.
Even so, said Pena at a news conference, when taking inflation into account this summer's gasoline will be "the lowest in recorded history" and - along with a robust economy - is expected to produce a surge in highway travel.