April was a bad month at the pump for drivers, but prices could be lower by the time summer driving season kicks off at the end of this month.
Figures from the Oil Price Information Service, which tracks prices for AAA, shows that the price of a gallon of regular gas rose 12 cents, or 3%, last month. The $3.66-a-gallon average on April 29 is the highest price so far this year.
But prices have already dropped a couple of cents in the early days of May. And a fall of between 5 to 10 cents more is likely in the coming weeks, according to Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at OPIS and GasBuddy.com.
"We've probably already seen the peak for at least the first half of the year," said Kloza.
Kloza said April's rise was due to normal seasonal factors, including refineries shutting down to prepare making summer blends of gasoline. Concern over the crisis in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia also helped to lift prices during the month, he said.
But North American oil and gas inventories are at or near their highest point in decades, Kloza said, and the changeover at U.S. refineries is complete. So most of the issues that could push gas prices higher are likely over -- at least until the start of hurricane season later this summer. Those storms can disrupt production at oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and refineries along the Gulf Coast.
Prices are higher than they were at this time last year, when they stood at $3.51 a gallon. But for most of this year, prices have been less than their 2013 levels, and that is likely to be the case once again on Memorial Day. Prices stood at $3.66 on Memorial Day 2013.