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December 21, 2020 5:15 PM, EST

Diesel Jumps 6¢ Per Gallon to Nine-Month High

Diesel close-up by Bloomberg News Trucking’s main fuel costs 42.2 cents less than it did a year ago. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News)

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The U.S. average retail price of diesel rose 6 cents to $2.619 a gallon and notched the highest price in nine months, the Energy Information Administration reported Dec. 21. The average price of diesel was $2.659 on March 23.

Trucking’s main fuel costs 42.2 cents less than it did a year ago, EIA’s report said. Crude oil prices climbed slightly.

The national average price of gasoline also surged significantly, by 6.6 cents to $2.224 a gallon, only 30.8 cents cheaper than a year ago.

Diesel prices rose in all regions. The Midwest posted the highest increase, 8.1 cents, raising the price to $2.559.

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The most expensive diesel was in California, where the average price per gallon was $3.370, an increase of 2.8 cents from the week before.

There are fears a new strain of the novel coronavirus could weaken demand for oil and derail the “fuel demand recovery,” PVM Oil Associates analyst Stephen Brennock told Bloomberg News. “If anything, it reaffirms that the path toward demand normalization is anything but smooth.”

West Texas Intermediate crude futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange closed at $47.84 on Dec. 21 compared with $46.99 per barrel Dec. 14.

In related news, EIA reported in December that as of Sept. 1, the latest available data, several U.S. refineries had closed, as some retooled for renewable diesel.

HollyFrontier shut all units at its refinery in Cheyenne, Wyo., which produces 48,000 barrels per day. It stopped petroleum refining operations but plans to resume operations in 2022 as a renewable diesel processing plant, EIA noted.

Marathon announced plans in August to indefinitely shutter two facilities: the 161,000-barrels-per-day refinery in Martinez, Calif., and the 27,000-barrels-per-day refinery in Gallup, N.M. Marathon attributed the closures to reduced petroleum demand in 2020. In October, the company announced that it is evaluating plans to convert the Martinez refinery to a renewable diesel facility. — Transport Topics

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