Diesel prices continue run up, oil hovers near $58

| Monday, April 04, 2005

While the cost of diesel continues to go from awful to unbearable, oil prices have raced to all-time peaks.

According to ProMiles, the state of Washington had the highest statewide average for retail diesel prices Monday, April 4, at $2.66 per gallon. South Carolina had the cheapest diesel with a price of $2.16.

The national average price-per-gallon for diesel fuel increased more than a nickel on Monday to $2.303, according to the Department of Energy reported. Diesel is running about 28 cents higher per gallon than in mid-February.

The highest average prices in the nation are once again found in California, where the average cost is $2.581 – a nearly 7-cent jump from a week ago.

Among the higher average prices were the West Coast region, at $2.541; New England, at $2.427; the Central Atlantic region, at $2.412; and the Rocky Mountain region, at $2.361.

Other prices included the East Coast region, at $2.299; the Midwest region, at $2.258; the Gulf Coast, at $2.24; and the Lower Atlantic region, at $2.238.

Oil prices briefly climbed above $58 a barrel Monday for the first time while the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries considered increasing the production ceiling to ease supply fears.

After reaching a high of $58.28 in the day's trading, light, sweet crude for May delivery eased slightly to end the trading day 26 cents lower at $57.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The previous high of $57.70 a barrel was reached Friday before settling at a record $57.27.

Heating oil prices rose more than a penny a gallon, while unleaded gasoline fell less than a cent.

OPEC President Sheik Ahmed Fahd Al Ahmed Al Sabah said Monday that phone consultations started over the weekend and ministers believe “we have to wait to see exactly how” prices react in the next two weeks.

Any production increase likely would occur in May, Al Sabah told The Associated Press .

OPEC, which produces about 40 percent of the world's oil, increased its production ceiling last month by 500,000 barrels to 27.5 million barrels a day and said it might widen the spigot to pump another half-million barrels of oil a day if prices do not come down.

With the price at the pump hovering near record highs and with no immediate end in sight, owner-operators and others in the trucking industry are being dealt a serious blow for any chance at turning a profit.

One thing that could help owner-operators cope with the cost of diesel is the fuel surcharge provision recently approved in the U.S. House as part of its version of the highway bill. The surcharge language in the House bill at Section 4139 requires all motor carriers, brokers and freight forwarders running truckload freight to implement fuel surcharges and pass on 100 percent of those surcharges to the person who actually pays for the fuel.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is urging truckers across the country to write, fax and call their U.S. senators and ask them to include the same fuel surcharge language in the Senate's version of the highway bill.

Congress got back to work today, following its spring break. The Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to take up its portion of the highway bill this week.

If truckers are not sure who their senators are, they may phone the OOIDA Membership Department and they'll look up the information. The toll-free OOIDA number is 1-800-444-5791. Truckers can also call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, give the operator their ZIP code and then be connected directly to their senators' offices.

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