EIA Network Issues Delay Fuel Price Release

EIA web page
EIA's web page notes the delay. (EIA)

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has had to delay its reporting of fuel prices for the week of June 20.

EIA releases national diesel and gasoline prices on a weekly basis, but network issues forced a delay in that week’s figures. The numbers were originally scheduled for release June 21. The delay followed an update in EIA statistical methodologies.

“Today’s release for prices for Monday, June 20 will not be published today as a result of a network issue,” a notice from the agency stated June 21. “We are working to resolve this issue expeditiously and the data will be posted when available.”

The agency warned that several product releases scheduled for that week would be delayed as a result of the systems issues, including its Weekly Petroleum Status report. Like the fuel price reporting, its status was delayed for an undetermined time.

The update in statistical methodology was reflected in the June 13 EIA report. The changes are intended to improve the accuracy of weekly estimates, EIA has said. The changes include creating an updated sampling frame, using new estimation methodologies and publishing a history of standard errors for the weekly price estimates produced from the new sample.

The weekly EIA reports break down fuel prices in 10 regions that collectively make up the country. The most recent numbers for the week of June 13 showed average diesel prices were at $5.718 a gallon nationwide. That was $2.432 a gallon more than the year prior. The national average for gasoline was $5.006 a gallon.

High fuel costs have been a focus of national discourse. For the trucking industry, high diesel costs can be offset with fuel surcharges, but prolonged elevation in fuel costs can reverberate for consumers in higher prices for everyday items such as groceries.

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.”

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

At least one oil company executive believes Biden’s plan would do more harm than good for U.S. drivers.

“The gasoline tax holiday would actually increase demand at a time when inventory is already tight,” John Hess, CEO of Hess Corp., said in a June 23 investor presentation. According to Bloomberg, Hess said, “The key to getting oil prices under control is to grow inventory; you only do that by increasing supply and tempering demand.”

The administration also has weighed limiting crude exports from the U.S., according to the Bloomberg report. Oil executives are pushing back, with Chevron CEO Mike Wirth urging a “change in approach” from the White House. Wirth was one of several CEOs set to gather with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on June 23.

“These two ideas that the government has — either to ban crude oil exports or to have a gasoline tax holiday — actually are going to make the market tighter,” Hess said. “It’s going to drive prices up, not drive them down.”

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing below or go here for more info: