Thanks in part to growing demand and increased refining
costs, prices for diesel fuel continued their horrific upward spiral in all
regions of the country April 11, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
The national average price for diesel rose 1.3 cents per
gallon to a record-setting $2.316 per gallon, up from $2.303 the week before.
That’s also up nearly 64 cents from the same time period in 2004.
California and the rest of the West Coast were hit the
hardest, with the average in both regions rising 4.4 cents per gallon.
California’s prices averaged $2.625 per gallon on April 11, while the rest of
the West Coast averaged $2.585 per gallon.
Experts say part of the reason for the increase in costs is
because of the increase in demand as the summer driving season approaches. Air
pollution rules requiring more expensive fuel blends are also a contributing
Another factor that some experts say is often overlooked is
U.S. oil refinery production. According to the American Petroleum Institute,
U.S. oil refineries are operating at 100 percent of capacity, especially during
the summer months. Even that, however, may not be fast enough.
Fox News reported that a new oil refinery has not
been built in the United States in 29 years, and people on all sides are
pointing fingers at each other. Environmentalists have been working to keep oil
refineries from being built, maintaining that they are dangerous to the
environment and to the people who work there.
Oil companies, meanwhile, claim that government red tape is
the real culprit, Fox News reported,
while activist groups such as Public Citizen maintain that the oil companies
are refusing to build more refineries so that they can gouge consumers at the
Crude oil prices soar, OPEC mulls
But there may be even still another culprit to blame.
Increasing demand for crude oil around the world – in particular from China’s
burgeoning economy – combined with political turmoil in several key oil
producing areas, has driven crude oil prices to record highs, according to
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, prices for light, sweet
crude oil settled at $53.69 per barrel April 11, after hitting a high of $53.80
earlier in the day.
While that was down somewhat from the record-setting highs
above $58 per barrel set the previous week, that’s still significantly higher
than a year ago, when prices per barrel were in the $35-$40 range.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which
produces about 40 percent of the world’s oil, said it might increase its
production by 500,000 barrels per day in May to help stem an anticipated surge
in demand moving into summer. OPEC also left room for a second increase of
500,000 barrels per day before its June meeting if prices did not drop below
$55 per barrel.
Owner-operators, of course, have been the hardest hit by the
fuel crunch, with many left wondering just how much longer they can hold out.
One thing that could help them is the fuel surcharge
provision currently making its way through Congress. The provision was recently
approved by the U.S. House as part of its version of the highway bill. Another
version is currently making its way through the Senate.
The 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 charges to the
person who actually pays for the fuel.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is urging
truckers to write, fax and call their U.S. senators and urge them to include
the same fuel surcharge language in the Senate’s version of the bill.
If truckers are uncertain who their senators are, they can
contact OOIDA’s Membership Department, and they will 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 be directly connected to their