The Cape May County Park and Zoo in Cape May Court House is a popular day trip destination for out-of-county visitors. Monday April 6, 2015. (Dale Gerhard/Press of Atlantic City)

Dale Gerhard

This could be the year of the cheap summer road trip. Motorists could save $1 a gallon this summer from a year ago and may see prices rivaling those from 2009, said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at gas-tracking website GasBuddy.

“For those thinking about a road trip, have at it,” he said Monday.

New Jersey prices could dip below $2 per gallon in the traffic-heavy summer months, he said.

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A $1 price difference, for example, would make a scenic tour of four lighthouses in Cape May, Atlantic and southern Ocean counties nearly $4 cheaper in a car averaging 25 mpg.

And it would cut the price of a Philadelphia-to-Atlantic City trip by nearly $2.50.

Gasoline prices have remained relatively low over the past months, driven largely by abundant crude oil supplies.

In Atlantic and Cape May counties, the average for a gallon of regular Monday was $2.14, which is $1.22 less than a year ago, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge report.

Gas prices typically spike in the springtime when refineries switch to cleaner-burning — and more expensive — summer fuel blends.

That annual rise may be buffered by optimism over the Iranian nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers, DeHaan said.

Easing sanctions against Iran would allow more of the county’s oil to hit world markets, further depressing oil prices in the short term, DeHaan said.

Perhaps only a major disruption in production this summer could derail gasoline prices, which are expected to be about $1 cheaper than last year, he said.

In the long term, the Iran nuclear deal may have the opposite effect on prices, though, if it leads to more instability in the region, he said.

“Depending on the reaction to this pending agreement with Iran, I think that certainly could disrupt the forecast if the Saudis wake up tomorrow and want nukes. That’s going to be positive for oil prices,” he said.

Contact Brian Ianieri:

609-272-7253

@BIanieri on Twitter

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