EIA Diesel Prices Still in Limbo Going Into Third Week

tanker refueling
George Frey/Bloomberg News

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration is delaying its weekly release of national diesel prices for a third week in a row due to network issues, it announced June 30.

EIA usually releases national diesel and gasoline prices together on a weekly basis. It was able to get out gasoline prices after a two-week delay.

But diesel prices will be postponed once again.

“We will not be able to publish those figures by the next scheduled release date of July 5,” EIA said in an email alert June 30. “We are continuing to work around the clock to fix the affected systems so we can publish our diesel price data as soon as possible and fully return to our regular data publication schedule.”

EIA was able to pinpoint the source of the problem June 17. It discovered that voltage irregularity caused hardware failures on two of its main processing servers.

The hardware has since been replaced and data from backup systems is being transferred to new servers.

“This issue prevented us from processing and releasing several reports last week, and unfortunately, it continues to affect our ability to release data this week,” EIA said in a release June 27. “We will continue to provide timely updates as we bring our systems back online and will share a schedule for our product releases as soon as possible.”

EIA has still been able to collect data throughout the outage and subsequent restoration. The agency has already started releasing reports that were scheduled for publication during the delay. The process requires quality checks to ensure data integrity after being transferred.

The Petroleum Supply Monthly, Natural Gas Monthly and Electric Power Monthly are expected to be published next week. The Monthly Energy Review, Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report and State Energy Data System were published June 30.

“We have been communicating with EIA and administration staff about the impact that changes and delays to the update can cause to the trucking industry and those we serve,” American Trucking Associations said in an email alert June 27. “We are not yet sure of the technical cause of the delay but have been assured by senior officials at EIA that they are working diligently to get it resolved.”

EIA most recently reported diesel prices were at $5.718 a gallon nationwide for June 13. That is $2.432 a gallon more than the year prior. California had the highest diesel prices of the 10 regions the agency surveys at $6.887 a gallon. No region was below $5 a gallon.

The national gasoline prices for the two weeks they were delayed were published June 29. The national average was at $4.872 a gallon through June 27. It was at $5.006 right before the delays started occurring June 13. The most recent results showed gasoline prices decreased in all regions surveyed.

President Joe Biden recently called for a three-month suspension of the federal gas tax in response to the rising prices. This action followed other attempts to alleviate the cost burden, such as releasing millions of barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and putting pressure on refiners to boost output.

“Right now, the federal government charges an 18-cent tax per gallon of gasoline and a 24-cent tax per gallon of diesel,” the White House stated in a June 22 release. “Those taxes fund critical highways and public transportation, through the Highway Trust Fund. But in this unique moment, with gas prices near $5 a gallon on average across the country, President Biden is calling on Congress to suspend the gas tax for three months — until the end of September — to give Americans a little extra breathing room.”

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Biden has placed blame for the rising fuel costs on Russian President Vladimir Putin for his country’s invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. responded with sanctions and a stop on oil imports from the country. Russia is a major global exporter of fuel and has pressured countries still importing its oil to trade in the ruble, a move likely intended to stabilize its currency and economy against sanctions.

Fuel prices in a number of states could rise even further amid an onslaught of increased gas taxes July 1. These taxes are mostly intended to fund transportation projects. The states are California, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, South Carolina and Virginia.