Energy department reports drop in diesel prices

| 9/13/2005

The national average price for diesel fell more than 5 cents for the week ending Sept. 12, according to the Energy Information Administration. The average was $2.847 per gallon, down from a record high of $2.898 the previous week, following Hurricane Katrina.

California had the highest prices in the 48 contiguous states, with an average of $3.158 per gallon, though even that was down more than 9 cents from the week before. The rest of the West Coast remained above the $3 mark, at $3.093 per gallon.

The East Coast was on pace with the national average, dropping about 5 cents to $2.849 per gallon. The Central Atlantic remained the highest-priced region on the coast at $2.935 per gallon. New England wasn’t far behind at $2.92 per gallon, while the Lower Atlantic came in at $2.806 per gallon.

The Midwest had the lowest average in the country at $2.782 per gallon. The Gulf Coast was close at $2.797 per gallon, while the Rocky Mountain region flirted with a high of $2.957 per gallon.

In spite of the general downturn, prices in some areas were still extremely high. One Shell station in Hawaii was selling gasoline for $3.96 per gallon. In some areas, prices were already above $4 per gallon.

Prices in Hawaii have gone up considerably in spite of a wholesale gas price cap – which does not include diesel – put in place by the state legislature in August. The cap allows the Public Utilities Commission to set wholesale gasoline prices each Thursday for the following Monday. The price increase approved last week was 44 cents per gallon.

Meanwhile, prices for light, sweet crude oil jumped slightly Tuesday, Sept. 13. Midday trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange saw prices rise to $63.85 per barrel after hitting an intraday low of $63.08 per barrel.

Analysts told Forbes that easing fears over Tropical Storm Ophelia were the reason for the jump in price. Investors had been afraid that the storm would crash into the East Coast, disrupting recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina.

But on Tuesday, Ophelia was still a tropical storm spinning off the coast.