OPEC looks to sway Russia; diesel on the rise

| 3/5/2002

OPEC Secretary General Ali Rodriguez visited Moscow Sunday in hopes of persuading Russia, a big oil producer outside the cartel, to maintain limits on its output to help keep global prices up.

Starting in January, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries lowered output by 1.5 million barrels a day and pressured Russia to lower its exports by 150,000 barrels a day in the first quarter. That agreement expires March 31.

Russia, which relies heavily on revenue from oil exports, has been evasive about whether it will maintain limited export levels after March. Russian officials have said only that they will consider the global demand for oil, which is expected to be lower in the second quarter, when deciding on future export levels.

As OPEC works to keep prices from dropping, the weekly retail on-highway diesel prices released by the Energy Department Monday show the national average cost of diesel increased about 2 cents per gallon from last week to $1.17. The price per gallon is the most expensive it's been since mid December.

The highest prices nationally are found in California. Diesel there costs $1.32 per gallon on average, up 2.5 cents from a week ago. The lowest average prices are once again found in the Gulf Coast region. Fuel there is $1.14 per gallon. The biggest boost in price from last week was seen on the West Coast. Diesel there rose more than 4 cents to $1.25 per gallon, the biggest jump from a week ago.

The remaining regions' price per gallon is as follows: East Coast, $1.19; New England, $1.29; Central Atlantic, $1.264; Lower Atlantic, $1.15; Midwest, $1.15; and Rocky Mountain, $1.16, respectively.