Oil plunges, diesel drops

| Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Oil prices remained relatively unchanged Monday after a pre-weekend plunge on signals of a dive in petroleum consumption. The cost of diesel dropped about 2 cents per gallon from a week ago.

U.S. light crude was at $22.50 a barrel in Asia, unchanged from Friday's settlement in New York when it slid 84 cents lower. Oil's skid was triggered by the International Energy Agency, which last week sliced more than one million barrels per day (bpd) off its demand forecast for the fourth quarter to 76.2 million bpd, a fall of 600,000 bpd from the same period a year ago.

At the same time, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said U.S. oil consumption in September dropped 900,000 bpd from last year to average 19 million bpd. Demand in the United States was one million bpd, down from August largely as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks, which led to a slump in air and road travel.

The weekly retail on-highway diesel prices released by the Energy Department Monday show the national average cost of diesel dipped .018 cents per gallon from last week to $1.353. Diesel has plummeted more than 18 cents over the past four weeks.

The biggest price drop was in the Rocky Mountain region. Diesel there fell 3 cents per gallon from a week ago to $1.44.

The lowest prices in the nation continue to be found in the Lower Atlantic region. Fuel there dipped slightly more than 1 cent to $1.27 per gallon.

The highest prices nationally are in the state of California. Diesel there is $1.485 per gallon - up .004 cents from last week.

The remaining regions' price per gallon is as follows: East Coast, $1.32; New England, $1.43; Central Atlantic, $1.40; Midwest, $1.37; Gulf Coast, $1.29; and West Coast, $1.45, respectively.

OPEC ministers are scheduled to meet Nov. 14 to review market conditions and production policy following their recent decision to leave output at 23.2 million bpd for the time being.

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