Gasoline prices already have been erratic in 2013.
On average, however, consumers should see a slight break when fueling up this summer, according to estimates released this week by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The government said the national price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline likely will average about $3.63 this summer.
The price estimate is about 6 cents per gallon less than last summer's average of about $3.69 and 8 cents less than $3.71 two summers ago.
Oklahoma gasoline prices typically run 20 cents to 30 cents per gallon less than the national average, largely because of nearby refineries and lower state gasoline taxes.
The projected price estimate reflects a small drop in crude oil prices and expected gasoline use combined with higher gasoline inventories.
While the government said it expects total gasoline consumption to drop, that doesn't mean Americans are expected to drive less.
Total highway travel is projected to increase 0.3 percent this summer, but improving vehicle efficiency is expected to cause total U.S. gasoline consumption to drop about 20,000 barrels per day, or 0.2 percent.
At the same time, domestic gasoline production is seen as increasing by 20,000 barrels per day, or about 0.3 percent, leading to a 1.1 percent drop in net gasoline imports.
The country's storage stocks started the 2013 summer driving season around 220 million barrels, up 1 million barrels from last year and about the same as the five-year average.
Increased production and less consumption should combine to lead consumers to draw down storage levels by about 54,000 barrels per day, or about half of last year's daily depletion.
“The steady drawdown of gasoline inventories seen throughout last summer is not expected to be repeated this summer,” the EIA said. “Instead, U.S. gasoline inventories are forecast to stabilize by the middle of the summer.”
This week's energy report also focused on natural gas.
The country's storage inventories closed out March around 1.69 trillion cubic feet, which is about 790 billion cubic feet less than last year and about 410 million cubic feet below the five-year average.
Largely because of the lower storage number, EIA said it now expects the Henry Hub natural gas spot price to average $3.52 per million British thermal units in 2013 and $3.60 in 2014. The prices are up from $2.75 in 2012.
One million BTU represents the heat energy released from burning roughly one thousand cubic feet of natural gas.