Truckers’ apprehension amps up as fuel prices tick upward, again

By Clarissa Kell-Holland
staff writer


With freight rates in the toilet, truckers are anxiously watching as fuel prices steadily rise, despite the demand for oil being down.

The price for diesel has already surpassed the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s “prediction” that fuel was going to average around $2.40 per gallon for the rest of 2009.

Some OOIDA members are already seeing rising prices at the pump in that area.

In mid-June, fuel was at $2.70 per gallon in Littlerock, CA, where OOIDA member Tom Fidger lives. This is 30 cents higher than the EIA’s projected national average.

“I am worried about getting slammed again this summer by high fuel prices,” Fidger said. “Trucking work is pretty scarce here anyway and rates are terrible. I can’t afford any surprises if fuel prices go haywire again.”

The price for light sweet crude oil was expected to remain around $67 per barrel for the remainder of the year, according to the EIA, an adjustment of more than $16 higher than its previous forecast. However, as of press time, the per-barrel price for oil was more than $71.

For nearly a year now, OOIDA members Sherrie and Bob Bond of Chehalis, WA, have been concerned about the volatile oil market and how it affects the trucking industry when the oil market goes berserk. She points to a year ago when fuel hit nearly $5 per gallon and oil prices skyrocketed to $147 per barrel in July 2008.

Sherrie Bond said she blames speculators who are pouring money into the oil market right now – even though the demand isn’t there. Fuel has hit $2.70 in her home state as well.

“These oil speculators think this is all a big game – get as much money as you can by driving up the price of oil – then getting out,” she said. “But they don’t seem to consider how this impacts the hard-working people who depend on diesel for their livelihoods. Some have just started recovering from a year ago – and now diesel prices are starting to spike up again.” LL