For the 14th consecutive week, the average retail price of diesel has risen.
The Department of Energy/Energy Information Administration average retail price of diesel rose 6.3 cents per gallon to $2.801 a gallon effective Monday. That increase is the largest in the 14-week run of higher prices. The previous high price increase was 5.8 cents back in November.
If the price increases next week, it will be the third time in the history of the DOE/EIA price series that it increased for 15 consecutive weeks. It has never risen 16 consecutive weeks since records began being kept in 1994. .
The DOE price is now at its highest level since it was $2.814 a gallon on March 9 of last year. That price was on the way down, declining more than 8 cents the following week as the pandemic took hold.
This week’s price is 10.9 cents less than it was a year ago when it was $2.91 a gallon.
What’s notable is that within the national average price, there are significant differences regionally. While most fuel surcharges outside of California are tied to the national average, the data from DOE/EIA does show fairly significant differences among regional prices and where they stand compared to a year ago, when concerns about the coronavirus reported in China were beginning to impact diesel prices more than virtually any other commodity. Diesel is a middle distillate, like jet fuel, and as the benchmark price for the jet fuel market, it was hit by downward moves as soon as the coronavirus reports started making their way into the market, on the assumption that air travel would be one of the first things hit by the virus.
The price of diesel in the district known as PADD 2, which consists of the Midwest, was $2.748 a gallon last week, according to the EIA. That’s just 2.8 cents less than where it stood at this time last year. Meanwhile, in the New England portion of PADD 1, prices are down a whopping 23.5 cents from last year, at $2.84 a gallon.
On the West Coast, the DOE/EIA price excluding California is $2.897, up 5.6 cents for the week and 20 cents less than last year’s level. California, at $3.558, is 22.6 cents less than the corresponding number for 2020. It was up 6.1 cents for the week.
The next week’s price is still several days away but progress toward a 15th consecutive increase got a boost Monday. Oil prices were up across the board, with the ultra low sulfur diesel price on the CME commodity exchange up 3.41% to $1.7478 a gallon. That’s the highest price since Jan. 24 of last year when it was $1.734 a gallon and prices were just starting to react to the prospect of lost demand due to the coronavirus.
Brent, the international crude benchmark, closed above $60 a barrel for the first time since that previously mentioned Jan. 24.