Cost of diesel, oil up

| Monday, January 24, 2005

The national average price-per-gallon for diesel fuel increased slightly Monday, Jan. 24, to $1.959 compared with last week’s average of $1.952,the Department of Energy reported.

The highest average prices in the nation continue to be found in the New England region, where the average cost is $2.18.

Among the higher average prices were in the Central Atlantic region, at $2.14; California, at $2.068; the West Coast region, at $2.027; and the East Coast region, at $2.014.

Other prices included the Lower Atlantic region, at $1.945; the Midwest region, at $1.928; the Gulf Coast region, at $1.919; and the Rocky Mountain region, at $1.884.

Meanwhile, crude oil prices held firm Monday as a blizzard enveloping the Northeast strained tight heating oil stocks and amid speculation that OPEC may cut output again at the end of the month.

Light, sweet crude for delivery inMarchincreased 7 cents to $48.60 per barrel in afternoon trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange, building on Friday’s $1.22 increase.

Prices have climbed as blizzards blanketed large parts of the Northeast – the world’s largest heating-oil market – dragging temperatures well below the seasonal average, driving homeowners to fire up their furnaces.

Temperatures are expected to stay lower than normal in the Northeast through the end of the week, Reuters reported. The outlook for the following week is warmer.

OPEC ministers are scheduled to meet Jan. 30 to discuss whether additional production cuts may be necessary. The cartel agreed in December to reduce production by 1 million barrels a day starting this month to bring output closer to its self-imposed output ceiling of 27 million barrels.

But Indonesia’s Oil Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said on Monday current price strength means OPEC should maintain existing production limits at Sunday’s meeting.

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