National average retail pump prices for both diesel and gasoline declined a small bit this week, according to data collected by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), though prices for both increased – albeit slightly on an averaged basis – mainly in the Eastern section of the country.
Diesel dropped 7/10ths of a penny to a national average retail pump price of $2.382 per gallon, which is 9.4 cents per gallon cheaper when compared to the same week in 2015, the agency said.
However, prices for diesel increased slightly in the Eastern portion of the U.S., EIA noted, climbing 4/10ths of a penny to $2.489 per gallon in the Central Atlantic region, rising 2/10ths of a penny to $2.318 in the Lower Atlantic, and inching up 2/10ths of a penny overall to $2.393 for the East Coast as a whole.
Diesel prices dropped in the remaining sections of the country, the agency said, decreasing the most in the Rocky Mountains and California, with a 1.7 cent dip to $2.465 per gallon and a 1.5 cent decline to $2.739 per gallon, respectively.
Meanwhile, the national average retail pump price for gasoline inched down just 1/10th of a penny to $2.224 per gallon, EIA said, though that is 9.8 cents per gallon cheaper compared to the same week in 2015.
Regionally, gasoline prices were mixed largely due to the lingering effect of a partial 12-day shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline system – a major delivery channel for transportation fuels to the Southeast – earlier this month to repair a leak.
Gasoline prices were up or flat along both the East and West Coasts of the U.S. this week, EIA said, though not by much:
- Central Atlantic: up 1.4 cents to $2.232 per gallon
- Lower Atlantic: up 1.2 cents to $2.184
- New England: up 1/10th of a penny to $2.193
- East Coast: up 1.1 cents to $2.203
- West Coast: up 1/10th of a penny to $2.651, but flat at $2.456 with California’s prices included
Yet a 1.9 cent decline in gasoline prices within the Rocky Mountain region to $2.246 per gallon this week helped balance out those increases, the agency noted.
As the Colonial Pipeline system returns to full operating capacity, EIA expects gasoline price spikes that have occurred along the East Coast and in the Southeast to dissipate.
The Colonial Pipeline shut down its Line 1 pipeline in response to a leak in Shelby County, Alabama, about 35 miles south of Birmingham. Repair activities included the construction of a 500-foot, above-ground bypass around the affected section of pipeline, which allowed Line 1 to resume partial operation on Sept. 21.
EIA noted that the 2.5 million barrel per day Colonial Pipeline system – which is comprised on 5,500 miles of pipeline connecting 29 refineries and 267 distribution terminals – is a significant source of diesel, gasoline, heating oil and jet fuel supply for the Southeast and East Coast, particularly in the states of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and parts of eastern Tennessee.
[Incidentally, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, along with West Virginia, represent approximately 12% of total U.S. motor gasoline consumption, the agency pointed out.]
Because there are no refineries between Alabama and Pennsylvania that produce substantial quantities of transportation fuels, the U.S. Southeast is supplied primarily by pipeline flows from refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast and supplemented by marine shipments from the U.S. Gulf Coast and imports, the agency explained – which is why the partial shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline had such impact on gasoline prices and on diesel prices to a lesser extent, EIA said.