Weakening oil demand; diesel at $1.15

| Wednesday, February 27, 2002

OPEC has announced it expects oil demand to weaken in the second quarter of this year. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has cut production by 3.5 million barrels of oil a day since the first of the year.

Lower demand levels will reportedly put additional downward pressure on oil prices in the second quarter, said OPEC spokesperson Ali Rodriguez at a petroleum conference Monday in New Zealand. Rodriguez said he also expects to see "modest" growth in demand for oil in the second half of the year.

Demand reportedly could grow by as much as 300,000 barrels a day between July and December, while OPEC's second half output may rise by as much as 700,000 barrels of oil a day. Rodriguez said the oil cartel's reduced output target, announced late last year, could be met in the second quarter if Russia, a non-OPEC nation, maintained its current output cuts.

As the demand for oil continues to soften, the weekly retail on-highway diesel prices released by the Energy Department Monday show the national average cost of diesel remains relatively unchanged for the third straight week at $1.15 per gallon. The price per gallon is 36 cents cheaper than one year ago.

The highest prices nationally are found in California. Diesel there costs $1.296 per gallon on average. The lowest average prices are once again found in the Gulf Coast region. Fuel there is $1.126 per gallon. The biggest drop in price from a week ago was seen on the West Coast. Diesel there dipped 2 cents to $1.214 per gallon. The remaining regions' price per gallon is as follows: East Coast, $1.186; New England, $1.286; Central Atlantic, $1.269; Lower Atlantic, $1.141; Midwest, $1.128; and Rocky Mountain, $1.14, respectively.

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