Road trip: Gas prices could be lowest in 6 years this summer

Vacations will be a bit cheaper this year with gasoline prices the lowest since 2009.

U.S. consumers will pay $1.14 a gallon less this summer than in 2014 and use 1.6 percent more fuel, according to a government report released Tuesday.

Falling pump prices will save Americans $700 a household this year, and, along with stronger jobs growth, has increased driving. Surging U.S. oil production has reduced costs and provided refineries with ample supplies of crude to turn into fuel, keeping gasoline prices in check.

“The glut in global petroleum supplies has come at the perfect time as people hit the road,” said Michael Green, a spokesman for Heathrow, Florida-based AAA, the nation’s largest motoring group. “Even if demand rises, there’s more than enough petroleum to supply motorists this summer.”

Regular-grade gasoline will average $2.45 a gallon from April through September, compared with $3.59 a year ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Short- Term Energy Outlook.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, is expected to average $59 a barrel this year, down from $99 in 2014, the EIA said. Prices crashed as booming production in the U.S. helped global supply outpace demand by 800,000 barrels a day last year, according to the International Energy Agency.

“Lower crude oil costs are the main reason U.S. drivers will pay the lowest summer gasoline prices since 2009,” EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski said in an e-mailed statement.

U.S. gasoline prices will be $2.50 a gallon in April before declining to $2.43 in September, the EIA said. Refiners and blenders may increase production by 100,000 barrels a day from last summer.

The EIA increased its full-year estimate by 1 cent to $2.40 a gallon from $2.39 last month.

U.S. drivers logged 237.3 billion miles in January, the most for that month in government data going back to 1970. January driving grew by 4.9 percent over the previous year, the biggest increase in 15 years.

The U.S. economy added 591,000 jobs in the first three months of this year, after adding 3.1 million in 2014, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show.

That will provide a double-barreled boost to driving this summer, as more people drive to work and more households can afford to drive their families to the beach, Green said.

“The current economic recovery has two good things going for it: low gas prices and more jobs,” Carl Larry, director of oil and gas for Frost & Sullivan in Houston, said by phone. “That plays right into high demand as more people will be on driving vacations to keep things on a budget.”