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May 5, 2022 4:05 PM, EDT

New England Copes With Soaring Diesel Prices

A gas station in Massachusetts on May 4A gas station in Massachusetts on May 4 shows the disparity between gasoline and diesel prices. (Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald via Tribune News Services)

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When will fuel costs finally start to turn around?

The pain at the pump continues to hurt more, as diesel prices in Massachusetts surged to a record high on May 4. The average price of $6.10 per gallon across the Bay State is nearly $1 more per gallon than a week ago.

With trucks using diesel, experts worry that a continuing rise in fuel costs will affect prices at your local grocery store, on top of the inflation that has already caused prices to soar.

“It’s just a really bad situation right now,” Mark Schieldrop of AAA Northeast told the Herald on May 4. “The diesel prices keep shooting up and up and up.

“We’re in crazy times right now,” he added. “To see diesel prices at $6.10, you have to rub your eyes and take another look. It’s unimaginable right now.”

Gas prices and home heating oil costs have skyrocketed since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with prices going higher after the U.S. banned Russian oil and gas imports.

Diesel prices in Massachusetts are now more than double the $3 from one year ago. Prices in the Northeast are significantly higher than in other parts of the country, partly because New England doesn’t have access to the same pipelines as elsewhere.

EIA fuel prices chart for May 2, 2022

Data from the Energy Information Administration shows diesel prices for the seven-day period ending May 2. The average price of diesel surged 86.1 cents in New England. (Energy Information Administration)

The national average for diesel is now $5.42 per gallon, compared to $6.10 in Massachusetts.

“Any big rig, any diesel vehicle is paying twice as much as last year,” Schieldrop said. “Everything in the economy is based on diesel transport, so we could be seeing a trickle-down on things we buy at the grocery store. It’s not going to help matters at all.”

Because Russia has been a major global supplier of diesel fuel, the global market has been scrambling to replace that void. As diesel demand remains strong, there’s a lack of supply around the world.

“The diesel market is almost broken right now,” Schieldrop said. “It’s pretty gloom-and-doom for the diesel market.”

But market experts anticipate that supplies will start to improve a bit, and the situation should improve over time.

Home heating oil is tied to diesel, so heating homes with oil has cost a lot more in recent months. Home heating oil prices are now well above $6 per gallon across the state.

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“We’re not in home heating oil season, so the hope is by the fall when we get to colder months, some of these supply issues will be sorted out a bit,” Schieldrop said. “If diesel goes down in the summer, that will be a good sign for home heating oil prices.”

Meanwhile, regular gas prices have ticked up again during the past week. The average for a regular gallon of gas in Massachusetts is now $4.24, which is up 12 cents from last week. The average price in Suffolk County is now $4.36, while regular gas prices are at a whopping $5.36 on Nantucket.

“Oil remains stubbornly high, above $100 a barrel,” Schieldrop said. “And we’re in that sort of expected increase as we head toward the summer driving season.

“It usually peaks in mid-May,” he added. “So we might start to see some relief once we get through the month of May.”

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