Diesel prices trend upward among predictions

| 1/4/2011

U.S. Department of Energy analysts said in the final month of 2010 that diesel prices would likely average $3.17 per gallon for the winter and $3.23 per gallon for the year 2011.

But those are just the working numbers. A recent five-week trend has shot the average up to $3.331 per gallon to start the year.

Price averages nationwide have increased 3 cents or more each week since Nov. 29, 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

EIA analysts say higher profit margins for refiners coupled with higher crude oil prices have pushed the forecasts upward this winter. Some other industry forecasters are predicting fuel prices could hit $4 this year and possibly as high as $5 in 2012.

In year-over-year comparisons, the current diesel average is 53.4 cents higher than it was in early 2010. That’s $106 more for 200 gallons than in the first week of the new decade.

California diesel is already over $3.50 per gallon, averaging $3.507 for the week. The Central Atlantic region is in second with an average of $3.470 while the West Coast region averaged $3.443 for the week.

As depressing as it sounds, the cheapest average for diesel by region was $3.279 per gallon in the Gulf Coast states.

ProMiles tracked Tuesday’s daily average at $3.340 per gallon, taxes included. That’s up a whisker from Sunday’s average.

The highest average by state on Tuesday was Connecticut, at $3.612 per gallon, which includes 39.6 cents in taxes.

In other energy news, the price for a barrel of light, sweet crude oil had eased during midday trading on Tuesday. February futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange were trading at $88.90 per barrel at midday, down about $2.65 per barrel.