Gas prices are relatively low as the Memorial Day weekend begins

Motorists are likely to find the second-lowest gasoline prices since 2009 as they head into Memorial Day weekend.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said prices at the pump as of Friday averaged $2.40 a gallon as the nation begins its traditional vacation season.

Prices look even better in the Kansas City area, according to the AAA Auto Club of Missouri.

Regular gas prices are averaging $2.18 a gallon on the Missouri side of the metro area and $2.23 a gallon on the Kansas side, said Mike Right, AAA spokesman.

Nationally, the Energy Information Administration said the 2017 average is up from the 2016 average of $2.31 a gallon.

U.S. Energy Information Administration

gas prices (2)

The administration said the relatively low 2017 gas price is due to several factors — comparatively low crude oil spot prices; weaker year-over-year gasoline demand, and high gasoline inventories.

The national report noted that the “price of gasoline typically increases during spring as refiners switch from winter-grade to more expensive summer-grade gasoline. Summer-grade gasoline has lower volatility, reducing evaporative emissions that can cause ground-level ozone pollution. This year, unlike in many recent years, prices have remained relatively stable as Memorial Day approaches.”

The U.S. agency forecast this summer’s gas prices to average $2.39 a gallon, or 16 cents a gallon higher than last summer. Over the year, regular gasoline prices nationally are expected to average $2.34 a gallon.

Diane Stafford: 816-234-4359, @kcstarstafford