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Drivers could enjoy cheaper gas prices in 2014, AAA says

Drivers could enjoy cheaper gas prices in 2014, AAA says
A woman pumps gas into her car in Pembroke Pines, Fla. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Motorists driving in the U.S. in 2014 may enjoy some relief at the gas pump, shelling out about 5 cents less per gallon compared with this year, according to AAA.

Rising domestic crude oil production and increased refining capacity are helping insulate the U.S. from global disruptions in production, according to the motorist club.

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That has helped drive down average gas prices this year to their lowest level since 2010. In 2013, the average price of a gallon of regular gas was $3.49, compared with $3.60 in 2012 and $3.51 in 2011, AAA said.

"Our hope is that prices will continue to fall as cars grow increasingly fuel efficient and refineries expand production to take advantage of the recent boom in North American crude oil," AAA spokesman Avery Ash said in a statement.

Technologies such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have unlocked a vast store of previously inaccessible shale oil in states such as North Dakota and Texas, pushing the nation's crude production this year to its highest level in a quarter of a century, the federal Energy Information Administration said this month.

The agency said U.S. output of oil has jumped 18% in the last 12 months.

Despite the positive projections, AAA warned that tumultuous global events or disruptions at refineries could send prices up in the coming year.

"It's possible that unexpected events or greater than forecast economic growth could result in higher prices for motorists in 2014," it said.

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