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Record driving pushes gas prices up

Gasline prices have jumped a bit, but don’t worry: They are expected to remain low through the rest of the year.

On Monday, the price of regular gas in Broward County averaged $2.29 per gallon, up by 2 cents from last week and down 10 cents from a month ago. It was $1.06 per gallon cheaper than a year earlier.

The price in Palm Beach County averaged $2.33 per gallon, up 2 cents from last week and down 11 cents from a month ago. It was $1.09 per gallon cheaper than a year earlier.

Gas prices have fluctuated the past couple of weeks because demand is unusually high at a time when refineries are entering their maintenance season, temporarily crimping output. ” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said Monday in his weekly fuel briefing in the briefing.

The U.S. is on pace for a new record in miles driven this year, AAA said.

Through July, the U.S. hit a new high for miles driven: 1.82 trillion, beating the 1.77 trillion mark set in 2007 before the Great Recession, according to estimates from the Federal Highway Administration.

Driving has increased by 4.2 percent nationwide in July and by 6.8 percent in Florida, the agency says. Only Hawaii recorded a bigger increase than Florida: 10 percent.

Even so, gas prices remain at their lowest since 2004 this autumn and are forecast to drop further once refineries finish their maintenance, Jenkins said.

“Fortunately, the slight upward pressure on prices is typically short-lived, and gasoline should get cheaper through the end of the year,” he said.

Gas prices generally drop in October because of a seasonal decline in both driving and fuel demand compared with summer. But autumn driving likely will be relatively strong this year because of cheaper gas.

“2015 could go down as the busiest driving year of all time,” Jenkins said, referring to Federal Highway Administration estimates.

Gas prices are lower this year largely because of a glut of oil supply worldwide. The price of benchmark West Texas Intermediate oil averaged $45 per barrel last week, about the half of the price a year earlier. Traders also are concerned about a slowdown in the economy in China, the world’s largest oil importer.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts the price of oil to average $49.23 per barrel this year and $53.57 next year. Still, the average price for gas likely will be 3 cents lower next year, because prices probably won’t peak as high early in the year as they did in 2015, the agency said.

Nationwide, gas prices are forecast to average $2.20 this month, $2.10 in November and $2.03 in December, the agency said. South Florida prices tend to be higher because of higher taxes and other higher costs.

dhemlock@sunsentinel.com, 305-810-5009, @dhemlock on Twitter ___

This article was written by Doreen Hemlock from Sun Sentinel and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.