Strategic reserve increase proposed, diesel dips

| Tuesday, October 30, 2001

President George W. Bush is considering filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to full capacity, according to the New York Times. The move is reportedly a precaution should the tensions in the Middle East disrupt the flow of oil to the United States.

As concerns about the oil supply persist, the cost of diesel fell about 1 cent per gallon from a week ago. President Bush is reportedly reviewing a plan that would call for oil to be acquired in several ways including increased funding from Congress to purchase oil, royalty payments to the government from oil companies drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in the form of oil rather than cash, or a combination of the two.

Created in 1975, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was designed to ease short-term price spikes and possible shortages that could be caused by a disruption in the oil supply. The reserve, which can hold up to 700 million barrels of oil, currently has about 545 million barrels, but that would last just 53 days, according to the Department of Energy. Now President Bush has been presented with a plan that calls for the reserve to receive 100,000 to 125,000 barrels per day for at least the next two years. That would yield about 70 million barrels, added to the 48 million barrels the reserve is already expected to add by 2003, bringing the reserve to full capacity, the Times reported.

The weekly retail on-highway diesel prices released by the Energy Department Monday show the national average cost of diesel has plummeted 22 cents over the past six weeks to $1.310.The biggest price drop was in the New England region. Diesel there declined 2.3 cents per gallon from last week to $1.397.The lowest prices in the nation are found in the Lower Atlantic region. Fuel there dipped slightly to $1.236 per gallon.The highest prices nationally continue to be found in the state of California. Diesel there is $1.447 per gallon - down .006 cents from a week ago.The remaining regions' price per gallon is as follows: East Coast, $1.284; Central Atlantic, $1.372; Midwest, $1.323; Gulf Coast, $1.247; Rocky Mountain, $1.38; and West Coast, $1.405, respectively.
--Keith Goble

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