American drivers could spend millions more at the pump this summer

How high will gas prices go this summer?

GasBuddy Head of Petroleum Analysis Patrick DeHaan on the outlook for gas prices.

While gasoline prices may be trending slightly lower heading into the U.S. Memorial Day holiday travel weekend, experts predict this summer will be even more painful at the pump than last.

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“I expect Americans to spend nearly $107.93 billion on gasoline from June to August, up $69 million from the same time period last year,” Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, told FOX Business.

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That forecast, DeHaan noted, is based on his consumption estimate of 9.72 million barrels per day.

In its May 2019 report, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecast that prices will average $2.92 per gallon from April through September. Last year, the average was $2.85 per gallon during the same time period.

“The higher forecast gasoline prices primarily reflect EIA’s expectation of higher gasoline refining margins this summer, despite slightly lower crude oil prices,” researchers wrote.

As previously reported by FOX Business, a variety of seasonal factors – including refinery maintenance – are expected to contribute to higher prices.

The national average was $2.84 per gallon as of Friday, which is down from last week, according to data from AAA. It is also lower than the average recorded during the same period last year when prices were $2.94.

But so far this year, prices have seen their largest seasonal surge since 2011 – an increase of about 67 cents. Considering that price hike, DeHaan said he is surprised by the “impressive resiliency of motorists.”

The good news? The more than 37 million people expected to travel by car during Memorial Day weekend may save a collective $287 million when compared with last year, GasBuddy predicts.

Gas prices were named as a top concern among American consumers for 2019, with people categorizing it as a household expenditure more important than major expenses, like health care and savings or emergency funds.

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Meanwhile, prices in California remain over the $4 per gallon mark, as Gov. Gavin Newsom called for an investigation into why the state’s prices are so high when compared with the national average. A California Energy Commission report concluded that there could be “possible market manipulation” involved. However, experts have told FOX Business that a supply crunch resulting from refinery upsets in Los Angeles and San Francisco were contributing to the price uptick – specifically because California has a unique gasoline standard, which means replacements for the production shortfall are harder to come by.