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August 17, 2020 6:15 PM, EDT

Average Price of Diesel Stays Essentially Flat at $2.427 a Gallon

Truck fills up at Mobil gas station Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

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The price of diesel remained essentially flat the past week, dipping one-tenth of a cent to $2.427 a gallon, the Energy Information Administration reported Aug. 17.

In the past five weeks, diesel has decreased four times and increased once. But the price continues to move in a narrow range.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline did remain flat, at $2.166, which is 43.2 cents cheaper than a year ago.

With the decrease, the nationwide price of trucking’s primary fuel is 56.7 cents a gallon less than it was a year ago.

The cost of diesel decreased in seven of the 10 regions surveyed by EIA.

The biggest decline was in the Central Atlantic, where the price fell by eight-tenths of a cent to $2.684. Diesel dipped by six-tenths of a cent along the East Coast, in New England and in the Gulf Coast region.

The Gulf Coast boasts the lowest price nationwide, $2.177 a gallon, because it is home to much of the country’s oil and gasoline production and a large share of the refining capacity.

California saw the largest jump, eight-tenths of a cent, to $3.264. Still, diesel is 62.3 cents a gallon cheaper than it was a year ago in the Golden State.

Diesel rose three-tenths of a cent in the Midwest and on the West Coast. In the Midwest, the price went to $2.308. Compared with the same week a year ago, diesel there is 59.2 cents per gallon less expensive. On the West Coast, the price of diesel climbed to $2.958 a gallon. In mid-August 2019, diesel there was 60.6 cents per gallon more expensive.

Meanwhile, West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed at $42.57 a barrel Aug. 18. Oil has traded for several weeks in a narrow range, slightly above $40 a barrel, but the oil price still is down 35.1% compared with a year ago, when it was $65.65.

Tom Kloza, co-founder and global head of energy analysis for Oil Price Information Service

Kloza

Oil Price Information Service founder and oil analyst Tom Kloza told Transport Topics he believes diesel and gasoline prices likely will remain flat until the economy begins to show steady improvement and the COVID-19 pandemic recedes.

“It’s a flat-price environment for the moment,” Kloza said. “Maybe this is about as good as it gets for the rest of the year. Some of the forecasts for U.S. oil demand and global demand are probably a little rosy. Who would have thought on March 15 that on Aug. 18, we’d still be talking about these numbers for COVID and where they are?”

The energy forecast from EIA on Aug. 11 predicts oil prices will remain at $43 a barrel for the rest of the year, and prices could increase to $50 a barrel in 2021.

The latest rig count from Baker Hughes shows that domestic and international oil production remains well below 2019 peak levels, when the U.S. became a net oil exporter and was producing 12.2 million barrels a day, much of it from Texas, Oklahoma, Alaska, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and North Dakota.

RoadSigns

Connectivity is changing trucking today and into the future, including how it could enable electric and self-driving trucks. Host Seth Clevenger talks with two experts from Penske Transportation Solutions, Bill Combs and Samantha Thompson. Hear a snippet, above, and get the full program by going to RoadSigns.TTNews.com

Domestically the week ending Aug. 14, Baker Hughes said 244 rigs were in operation, a decline of three from the previous week and down 74%, or 691 rigs, from the 935 in operation at the same time last year.

In Canada, the number of rigs increased by seven to 54 platforms, but that still is down 88 from the 142 pumping last August. Internationally ,the rig count fell by 38 to 743 — down from 1,162 last summer.

Baker Hughes ranks No. 73 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest private carriers in North America.

Even as there appears to be excess domestic oil production capacity at this time because of the pandemic, the Trump administration approved an oil leasing program for the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, opening up 19 million acres of wilderness for drilling for the first time.

Environmental groups are vowing to fight the move, pointing out that the country is quickly adding renewable energy sources and moving away from oil as a fuel source. The latest EIA forecast said renewable energy will be the fastest-growing source of electricity generation this year. EIA expects the electric power sector will add 23.2 gigawatts of new wind capacity and 12.9 GW of utility-scale solar capacity in 2020. To put that into perspective, one gigawatt is capable of powering 330,000 homes. By adding 36.1 GW of renewable energy, it is estimated that nearly 12 million additional homes could be powered by renewable energy in 2020, according to EIA.

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