Diesel prices continue to edge up

Even though the price per gallon of diesel fuel has been below the $3 mark for the past 11 weeks, that could be changing soon based on recent data from the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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Even though the price per gallon of diesel fuel has been below the $3 mark for the past 11 weeks, that could be changing soon based on recent data from the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The EIA reported that average diesel prices for the week of August 9 at $2.991, are up 6.3 cents compared to the week of August 2. The recent run-up in prices is partly due to increasing oil prices, with current prices around $80 per barrel.

According to EIA data, diesel prices are up 36.6 cents year-over-year and 9.2 cents in the last three weeks. What’s more, the current $2.991 average per gallon for diesel fuel is 13.6 cents below the $3.127 high for the year, which occurred during the week of May 10.

Current diesel prices appear to be in line with the EIA’s most recent Short-Term Energy Outlook, which is calling for 2010 average diesel prices to come in at $2.96 per gallon in 2010 and $3.11 in 2011.
The EIA is also calling for 2010 crude oil prices to be average $78.75 per barrel in 2010, slightly higher than the current price of $74.74, with 2011 prices currently forecasted at $82.50. In April crude hit nearly $87 per barrel, marking its highest price in 17 nearly 20 months.

While diesel prices appear to be in check to a large degree for the time being, many industry observers maintain there is no real rhyme and reason in terms of fluctuating fuel prices.

“There has never been a period of volatility in fuel prices like there has been in the last year,” said Mike Regan, president of TranzAct Technologies and a frequent blogger for LM. “That means the fact that prices are down is no indication that the prices are going to stay down or rise sharply.”

With such uncertainty, Regan said it is imperative for shippers to develop fuel budgets for different potential scenarios that have the ability to dramatically alter planning such as a Middle East conflict or China’s mild economic downturn.

And Derek Leathers, Chief Operating Officer of Werner Enterprises, said that even with the ongoing uncertainty regarding oil and diesel prices, Werner is planning for “fairly stable” pump prices for the rest of this year.

“We don’t see $4.75 prices per gallon [like in 2008] returning between now and the end of the year,” said Leathers. “At the same time, though, we don’t know where prices are going to go so whatever we can do to be more efficient and burn less fuel is a better approach.” 

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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