Fuel prices dip slightly, still significantly higher than '04 prices.

| Monday, April 18, 2005

The cost of fuel fell a bit across the country for the week ending April 18, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The national average cost of diesel on April 18 was $2.259 per gallon. Though that is down 5.7 cents from the previous week, it is still more than 53 cents higher than prices for the same week in 2004.

California posted the highest prices, at $2.582 per gallon, down 4.3 cents from the previous week. That’s 32 cents higher than prices in the region for the same week a year ago.

Meanwhile, the West Coast region (excluding California) had the second highest prices at $2.554 per gallon, followed by New England at $2.418 per gallon.

The Central Atlantic region had prices at $2.373 per gallon, while the Lower Atlantic came in at $2.197 per gallon, and the rest of the East Coast was at $2.26 per gallon.

Prices in the Midwest were posted at $2.194 per gallon, while the Gulf Coast reported an average of $2.18 per gallon. The Rocky Mountain region posted prices of $2.379 per gallon.

One reason prices may be slipping is that the price of crude oil also dropped on Monday in trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Prices for light, sweet crude oil fell as low as $49.66 per barrel before settling at $50.15 per barrel. This drop came following news that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries announced that it would increase its oil production by 500,000 barrels per day beginning in May.

However, experts said increased demand in oil could lead to further price increases as the summer driving season begins and demand increases.

The group hit perhaps the hardest by those rising prices is independent owner-operators.

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 senator’s office.

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