Gas Prices Signal Good Times Ahead for Operators

Operators and drivers take heed -- US gasoline prices are on the rise.

The EIA recently forecast that gasoline prices will touch a bullish $3 per gallon in the months ahead, continuing the positive move up from the price collapse during 2008. Retail prices currently average about $2.70, already up about $1 from the bottom around $1.67 in December 2008.

According to the EIA, the annual average regular-grade retail gasoline price is expected to climb from an average of $2.35 per gallon in 2009 to average $2.84 in 2010. In 2011, consumers should expect to see prices average just under the $3-threshold at $2.97 per gallon, which is predicated on the EIA's outlook for rising average crude oil prices.

While rising gasoline prices generally bode well for the energy sector, it will be worth monitoring consumer sensitivity to the price at the pump as the broader economy is still recovering from the downturn and unemployment levels remain elevated.

GRAPH: U.S. Retail Gasoline Price (All Grades, All Formulations)