The Department of Energy sharply boosted its projection for diesel prices, saying it will average $3.45 a gallon this year — 57 cents above last year’s average — and $3.70 in March and April.
Gasoline prices will peak near $3.50 a gallon this spring, while pump prices for that fuel will average $3.21 for the full year, about 40 cents over last year.
The projections are being driven by soaring crude oil costs, DOE said in its monthly short-term energy outlook, released Tuesday.
The annual average crude price, which was $72 per barrel in 2007, is projected to average $94 this year, but ease to about $86 per barrel in 2009.
Crude oil averaged $95 a barrel in February and will average $102 in March, DOE said.
Oil closed at a record $108.75 on Tuesday, but DOE said it expects the price to fall later this month.
Last month, DOE lowered its diesel price outlook, saying it would peak in April and May at $3.30 a gallon before falling to near to $3 later this year.