DIESEL REPORT: Fuel flowing but price increases plague the West

| 8/17/2006

Aug. 17, 2006 Little relief is in sight for truckers paying record prices for diesel in the West, but fuel prices remain relatively steady in the rest of the country.

Earlier this week individual truckers were reporting they encountered fuel stops that were out of diesel in Idaho and Wyoming, but those situations were apparently isolated and related to individual deliveries, rather than a large-scale supply disruption, according to sources in the diesel business.

Tom Liutkus of TravelCenters of America told Land Line Magazine Thursday morning that that TA chain had not been having any more problems at its Boise, ID, location than it was having anywhere else.

"We haven't seen much of a change since last week," Liutkus said. "It's still tight, but we've got diesel."

That apparently wasn't the case Tuesday at a Flying J truck stop in Caldwell, ID. An employee there confirmed for Land Line that they had run out of diesel but that a delivery Tuesday evening got their pumps back into action. As for the entire Flying J chain, a company spokesman told Land Line on Wednesday that the company's fuel stops have diesel and are pumping away.

The prices at those pumps and other fuel stations in the West are continuing to climb, while the national average has been slipping on a daily basis, according to ProMiles.

On Aug. 9, ProMiles was reporting the national average for diesel at $3.111 per gallon. Thursday that national average had slipped to $3.099, but the ProMiles average for Wyoming, for example, increased from $3.166 per gallon on Aug. 9 to $3.249 on Thursday.

The federal government's Energy Information Administration shows even bigger increases for the Rocky Mountain, West Coast and California reporting regions.

According to EIA numbers, the Rocky Mountain region's average cost for a gallon of diesel, as of Monday, was $3.331 - that's more than a dime higher than the EIA reported for the region a week ago and 69.9 cents higher than it was a year ago.

The West Coast and California regions also showed price increases in the 10-cent range compared with last week, with prices Monday at $3.220 and $3.218 respectively.

The EIA's national average price for a gallon of diesel as of Monday was $3.065, up a penny from the week before and up 49.5 cents from a year ago.

The higher prices out West are being blamed on a number of factors that have put the pinch on supplies, including increased use of diesel to run irrigation equipment for drought-stricken crops and the switch to ultra-low sulfur diesel.

- By Coral Beach, staff editor