Fuel Price Volatility Continues to Pose Challenges for Supply Chain Managers

Prices have risen a cumulative 12.8 cents over the last three weeks.
By SCMR Staff
February 05, 2013 - SCMR Editorial

Diesel prices shot up nearly 10 cents to $4.022 this week, according to the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The 9.5 cent gain represents the largest weekly increase since the price moved up 6 cents to $4.034 the week of November 11, and it is the first time weekly prices topped the $4 per gallon mark since reaching $4.027 the week of December 3.

Prices have risen a cumulative 12.8 cents over the last three weeks. Prior to that, prices had been down for seven straight weeks, falling a cumulative 14 cents during that span, and for 12 of the previous 13 weeks.

Since reaching a more than four-year weekly high of $4.15 per gallon the week of October 15, diesel prices have gone down a cumulative 13.2 cents. What’s more, prices have been below the $4 per gallon mark for eight consecutive weeks prior to this week.

The average price per gallon is up 16.6 cents compared to a year ago at this time and ahead of the 7.7 cent annual gap from a week ago.

In its recently updated short-term energy outlook, the EIA is calling for diesel prices to average $3.97 per gallon in 2012 and $3.84 in 2013, with WTI crude oil is expected to hit $94.26 per barrel in 2012 and $88.38 in 2013.

As previously reported, regardless of the fluctuation in diesel prices, shippers are cognizant of the impact diesel prices can have on their bottom line—for better or worse. And they continue to be proactive on that front, too, by taking steps to reduce mileage and transit lengths when possible as well as cut down on empty miles.

And even through shippers want to adjust budgets in order to offset the increased costs higher fuel prices bring, it is not always an easy thing to manage.

The focus from a supply chain management perspective, according to shippers, is more on utilization and efficiency by doing things like driving empty miles out of transportation networks.



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Recent Entries

Logistics Management Group News Editor Jeff Berman had an opportunity to interview Derek Leathers, President and Chief Operating Officer of Werner Enterprises, at this month's NASSTRAC Shippers Conference and Transportation Expo in Orlando. They discussed various aspects of the truckload market, including prices, fuel, and regulations.

During this webcast our presenters will apply the findings of the 23rd Annual Trends & Issues in Transportation and Logistics Study to the world of shipper-carrier decision making. They'll examine the primary aspects that will influence the future direction for shipper-carrier decision-making.

For February, the month for which most recent data is available, the SCI dropped to -1.0 from January’s 2.6, with FTR explaining that the short term positive impact from one-time adjustments for rapidly dropping diesel prices and the suspension of the 2013 motor carriers hours-of-service expires later this year.

Seasonally-adjusted (SA) for-hire truck tonnage in March was up 1.1 percent on the heels of a revised 2.8 percent (from 3.1 percent) February decline, with the SA index at 133.5 (2000=100). This is off 0.3 percent from the all-time high for the SA of 135.8 from January 2015 and is up 5 percent annually.

Intermodal volume was up 8.1 percent annually at 280,016 containers and trailers. This outpaced the week ending April 11 at 270,463 and the week ending April 4 at 271,127. AAR said this tally marks the second highest weekly output it has ever recorded as well as the first time container and trailer traffic was higher than carloads for a one-week period.

Article Topics

News · 3PL · Energy · Fuel · All topics

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review. Patrick covers international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. Contact Patrick Burnson

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