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Looks like gas price surge is over for 2012

Updated: April 11, 2012 10:50AM

This year’s surge in gasoline prices appears over, falling short of the record highs nationally some had feared heading into peak summer driving season.

Prices have held at a national average of $3.92 a gallon the past week, below 2011’s $3.99 high and July 2008’s record $4.11.

“By the behavior of the market, things are just running out of steam,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior analyst for price tracker “Barring any major event — refinery problems, Iran — I think prices have peaked.”

DeHaan said the national average could dip to $3.70 a gallon by early May. Typically, prices peak shortly before Memorial Day.

Providing relief at the pump: slumping crude oil and wholesale gas prices and lower consumer demand.

In a Tuesday forecast, the federal Energy Information Administration predicted prices will average $3.95 a gallon through September and could peak at $4.01 in May. But those estimates reflect crude oil at $110 a barrel. EIA is forecasting a bit of a break in 2013 prices — $3.73 a gallon. That’s 8 cents lower than this year’s $3.81 average but 20 cents higher than 2011 prices.

Gas prices in some of the nation’s priciest markets — such as Chicago and Los Angeles — already have dropped 12 to 20 cents a gallon.

That adds “confidence that the overall market is heading down,” said industry tracker Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey. “Even if demand were to surge, we have flush supplies, a lot of refining capacity and repeated assurances that Saudi Arabia would step in and hike production if there are problems with Iran.”

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