San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Gas prices expected to remain steady in 2010

The decreased prices seen at the gas pump in 2009 are expected to continue in 2010. According to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the worldwide demand for crude oil is projected to increase around 1 percent, meaning the average price for a barrel will hover around $80, near the $75/barrel average seen during the last two months of 2009.

“The demand (for oil) continues to be weak,” said Alexander Hick, an analyst at X-Trade Brokers. “The price of oil has risen to a level that has made producers begin to feel comfortable. It would not be surprising to see a certain stabilization of price, as we don´t believe the price will continue to rise at the same pace.”

Hick predicted that the price per oil barrel would fluctuate between $70 and $80 for most of the year, with the possibility of price spikes as high as $90.

According to OPEC, many of the nations that produce oil have experienced significant decline in demand, and barrel exports have suffered. Though demand for oil from China and India is expected to remain high, OPEC predicts that the demand for oil from other exporting countries is experiencing “a high level of uncertainty” in regards to projections.

In 2009, five oil refineries in the U.S. shut down, largely due to decreased demand stemming from the worldwide economic recession and the continued creation of alternative fuel sources.

Transportation costs in Costa Rica, which include gasoline prices, rose 0.91 percent during the first 11 months of 2009, according to Costa Rica´s National Statistics and Census Institute. Through the first 11 months of 2008, transportation costs rose 16.96 percent.

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