OPEC waits, diesel continues dive

| Tuesday, December 04, 2001

OPEC was awaiting a response Monday from Russia about a proposed meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the slowing global oil demand growth. The announcement comes as oil prices continue to freefall.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is trying to gain Russia's help to shore up slowing oil demand and avoid a price crash next year. Russia, the world's second largest crude oil exporter, has only offered to trim production by 50,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the fourth quarter and hold talks later this month about further cuts after the first of the year.

OPEC agreed last month to curb output by 1.5 million bpd in January, if non-OPEC producers, such as Mexico, Norway and Russia, agreed to trim output by a total of 500,000 bpd. Mexico has since announced that it would cut oil exports by up to 100,000 bpd and Norway has offered to cut production by between 100,000 and 200,000 bpd. As of now, the proposed cuts leave OPEC well shy of its 500,000-bpd goal for the three nations.

The weekly retail on-highway diesel prices released by the Energy Department Monday show the national average cost of diesel is the lowest it has been in more than two years. Diesel has decreased 33 cents since the Sept. 11 attacks to $1.194 per gallon.

The biggest price drop from last week was in Rocky Mountain region. Diesel there fell 4.6 cents per gallon to $1.213. The lowest prices in the nation are found in the Gulf Coast region. Fuel there dipped 2.2 cents to $1.142 per gallon. The cost of diesel declined about 2.6 cents per gallon in the New England region. Despite the reduction, the region claims the highest prices nationally. The remaining regions' price per gallon is as follows: East Coast, $1.194; Central Atlantic, $1.286; Lower Atlantic, $1.143; Midwest, $1.198; West Coast, $1.259; and California, $1.30, respectively.

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