U.S. gasoline prices held steady over the last two weeks despite looming higher fuel demand from summer vacationers and Iraq's embargo on oil exports, according to the Lundberg nationwide service station survey released Sunday.
The average for self-serve regular eased about a third of a cent to $1.4211 a gallon in the two weeks ended May 3, bringing prices a hefty 30 cents below their level last year when a supply crunch before summer caused a record spike, according to the survey.
"Supplies of both crude oil and gasoline are sufficient to meet demand right now," said Trilby Lundberg, editor of the survey. "Pump prices have fallen nearly 1 cent in a month, and this is despite supply disruptions from Iraq and a few weeks ago from Venezuela."
Iraq said Sunday that it had decided to end its ban and resume exports of about 2 million barrels a day. The suspension was in protest of Israel's incursions into Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank.
There was also a brief disruption last month in crude oil and gasoline exports from No. 4 supplier Venezuela due to a labor dispute at the state oil company and protests against President Hugo Chavez, culminating in a failed coup.
Gasoline prices normally rise in late spring due to increased fuel consumption from travelers and as a seasonal switch to harder-to-produce clean air gasoline blends mandated at a third of the nation's pumps by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The highest gasoline prices were seen in San Francisco at $1.6353 a gallon, while the lowest were seen in Atlanta at $1.2267 a gallon, according to the survey.