Memorial Day is right around the corner, so motorists are getting prepared for the prices at the gas pump to ... fall.
Odd as that sounds, that's what experts are predicting.
In a reversal from previous forecasts that regular self-service gas would top $3 per gallon by the holiday that marks the unofficial start of the summer vacation period, the experts are saying that the current national average of $2.90 per gallon could dip below last summer's high of $2.70 by the time summer gets here.
In fact, many are suggesting that prices have peaked for the driving season.
Georgia's average price for a gallon of self-service regular on Thursday was $2.809 according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report. The report had Atlanta's average at $2.829 per gallon, down slightly from last week.
Several reasons have been cited for the rosier gas price predictions, but some of the thanks, oddly enough, may go to the slow economic recovery. We all wish it was faster and more robust, but it's likely playing a big role in keeping pump prices down.
Domestic supplies have risen despite the BP oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Refinery output has exceeded demand lately and the United States had 222 million barrels of gas in storage last week, about 5 percent more than last May. Experts have reduced their forecasts on energy demand because of the debt crisis in Europe as the EU deals with Greece's financial mess.
Also, for a change there's not a lot of unrest in places like Nigeria and the Middle East at the moment. Attacks on major pipelines -- and even the threat of attacks that would interrupt production -- often cause prices to spike, especially in recent years when supply was barely covering demand.
But you have to remember that even the best crystal balls sometimes crack.
The U.S. Federal Energy Administration, for instance, is still saying that $3 gas will be on U.S. pumps at least part of the driving season, which unofficially ends on Labor Day weekend. The reasoning is simple. Violence can surge overnight in the Middle East and African oil-producing countries. With hurricane season also just around the corner, a big storm barreling through the Gulf could shut down production any time this summer.
And who knows? With cheaper gas, consumers could hit the roads more this summer as well, with higher demand driving up prices.
But still, it's nice to be able to go into the travel season with at least the prospects of more affordable gas prices. To play on an old slogan, it would sure make for happier motoring.
The unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the Citizen newspapers. Columns, letters to the editor and cartoons reflect the opinions of the individuals who penned them.