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
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,
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.