Gasoline prices this summer could stay relatively steady provided that an
already-tense Middle East doesn’t flare up and nothing else happens to disrupt
supplies, a Purdue
As long as market conditions remain basically as they are now, gasoline
likely will remain between $3.50 and $4 per gallon in Indiana, said Wally Tyner, an agricultural
and energy economist. Because regional variability in gasoline prices has
increased, motorists in California
and much of the West Coast can expect to see prices above $4 for most of the
summer, and the South and Southeast below $3.65.
But Tyner cautions that global instability and disruptions in supply could
force prices upward.
As always, the political situation in the Middle East and U.S. relations with Iran will play a large part in what
motorists pay for gasoline.
“Any disturbance in the Middle East or heightening of tensions with Iran
could move crude oil up,” Tyner said, “and that would send gasoline
Supply can be interrupted by bad weather, such as hurricanes or tsunamis, or
refinery or pipeline outages for other reasons. These can occur domestically
and overseas. When they do happen, they often temporarily drive prices up until
the disruption subsides, Tyner said.
On the other hand, sluggish economic growth, an increase in crude oil
production and higher-than-normal crude oil stocks could bring prices down.
Recent developments in the economic crisis in Greece
and an apparent slowdown in China’s
economy could be important to summer’s gasoline prices.
“Economic growth or lack thereof is a major determinant of demand for
gasoline,” Tyner said. “If growth is slower, gasoline prices will be
lower. Growth has slowed in China
and in Europe. If that slowdown continues, it
would put downward pressure on crude oil and gasoline prices.”
Crude oil production worldwide has increased recently beyond global demand,
a situation that would drive gas prices down. As production increases, crude
oil stocks build to above-normal levels, which also could cause oil prices and,
therefore, gasoline prices, to decrease.
If none of these situations occurs, prices will remain steady, Tyner said.
“While we cannot say how any of these factors will play out in the
months to come, they are the key things to watch to determine where the pump
prices will go,” Tyner said. “If these factors remain pretty much as
at present, pump prices will do the same.”