Diesel analysts predict $4.15 average for the year

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 3/12/2012

Back in February, forecasters with the U.S. Energy Department thought diesel would average $3.91 for the year. But with global demand soaring, forecasters have added 24 cents to that price in their latest prediction, saying diesel is likely to average $4.15.

In the March edition of the EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook, forecasters indicated that summer demand, coupled with other factors, will help push the national average upwards of $4.24 in August before the price tapers off to $4.17 in December.

EIA forecasters also adjusted their predictions for gasoline and crude oil, projecting them higher than they did a month ago. The EIA believes gas will average $3.79 per gallon with a chance that it could hit $4 in June. According to the agency, crude oil will average $106 per barrel in 2012, up about $5 from last month’s projection.

If diesel does go on to average $4.15 in 2012, it would be 31 cents higher than the 2011 average.

On Monday, March 12, the EIA reported the weekly national average for diesel at $4.123 per gallon. That was up nearly 3 cents for the week.

The average price in the Rocky Mountain region increased more than 8 cents for the week while New England saw a decrease of three-tenths of a penny. The West Coast region saw prices increase nearly a nickel for the week to more than $4.42 per gallon.

Following is a roundup of on-highway diesel averages by region as reported by the EIA:

  • U.S. – $4.123, up 2.9 cents
  • East Coast – $4.169, up two-tenths of a cent
  • New England – $4.250, down three-tenths of a cent
  • Central Atlantic – $4.247, up four-tenths of a cent
  • Lower Atlantic – $4.096, up two-tenths of a cent
  • Midwest – $4.016, up 4.2 cents
  • Gulf Coast – $4.036, up 1.6 cents
  • Rocky Mountain – $4.069, up 8.3 cents
  • West Coast – $4.421, up 4.9 cents
  • California – $4.483, up 2.9 cents

ProMiles, which tracks diesel prices daily in the Lower 48 states, reported the national average at $4.121 on Monday, unchanged from the previous report. According to ProMiles, just 12 states had an average below $4 for diesel fuel.

Washington state had the highest price for the week at $4.496 including taxes, followed by California at $4.476.

Oklahoma, at $3.910, and Missouri, at $3.912, had the lowest average for diesel according to the ProMiles survey.

Futures for light sweet crude oil were trading at $106.29 a barrel Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down $1.11 from the previous day’s trading. Crude oil in Europe declined 90 cents a barrel to $125.

According to oil analysts at Reuters, the drop in oil prices on Monday was fueled by China’s reported trade deficit, a recession in Italy and revived talks between the West and Iran that could prevent a supply disruption.

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