Diesel Falls 1.4¢ to $2.87; Gas Jumps 5.5¢

This story appears in the June 22 print edition of Transport Topics.

The U.S. average diesel price fell 1.4 cents a gallon last week to $2.87, the third straight decline, the Department of Energy reported.

The price of trucking’s main fuel has fallen 4.4 cents during the past three weeks, after six increases totaling 16 cents.

Last week’s downturn left it $1.012 less than the corresponding week last year, DOE said after its June 15 survey of filling stations.

The average retail gasoline price, in contrast, rose 5.5 cents to $2.835, marking the eighth in-crease in nine weeks. It was unchanged the previous week.

Gas prices have risen 42.7 cents since mid-April but are 85.1 cents below a year earlier, DOE figures showed.

Nick Hewitt, president of Oregon-based truckload carrier Professional Transportation Services Inc., said the company is using single wide-base tires, battery-powered auxiliary units and speed governors that keep its fleet at 65 mph to cut costs.

“We’ve really spent some money trying to get better fuel economy,” he said, and the newer trucks “are doing a very nice job” with fuel economy.

The flatbed carrier, which has 10 company trucks and uses five owner-operators, runs the lower 48 states and in Canada, often pulling heavy-haul irregular loads.

Meanwhile, a federal government analyst said that oil-price estimates vary, despite current stable levels.

“Oil’s now around $60; the question is, will it last?” asked Lynn Westfall, director of financial markets and economic analysis for DOE’s Energy Information Administration, which hosted an energy conference June 15-16 in Washington.

EIA forecasts relatively stable oil prices for the next two years, in the $60 to $70 range, Westfall said, but a “range of uncertainty” shows the price could range from $40 to $90 a barrel.

Oil prices held near $60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange last week, even as EIA’s weekly supply showed crude inventories fell 2.7 million barrels in the latest week.

Distillate supplies, which include diesel, rose by about 100,000 barrels, and gasoline supplies increased by 500,000 barrels, EIA said.