Diesel and gasoline prices stayed relatively stable this week, according to data tracked by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), with average U.S. retail pump prices for diesel declining 1.1 cents per gallon and gasoline increasing just 1/10thof a penny per gallon.
The agency is also keeping a close eye on predictions for hurricane season as government weathercasters say there is a 70% chance of 13-20 named storms in the Atlantic Basin, of which 7-11 may strengthen to hurricanes and with 3-6 of those becoming major hurricanes characterized by wind categories 3, 4, and 5.
EIA said the concern for disruptions in oil and natural gas production largely depends on both the strength and location of the storms.
Currently, though, U.S. retail fuel prices are stabilizing at least for the moment, according to the agency’s figures. The average U.S. retail pump price for diesel dropped 1.1 cents this week to $3.869 per gallon, though that figure is 2.5 cents higher per gallon compared to the same week in 2012.
Prices dropped in every region of the U.S. except for the Rocky Mountains, where pump prices increased just a scant 3/10thof a penny to $3.866 per gallon, EIA said. California is the only area of the nation where diesel exceeds the $4 per gallon mark, with diesel in that state resting at an average of $4.025 per gallon this week, the agency noted.
The U.S. average retail pump price for gasoline increased 1/10thof a penny to $3.646 per gallon this week, EIA reported; a price that is 3.3 cents more expensive per gallon compared to the same week in 2012.
Prices increased in just two regions of the country, spiking the most in the Midwest by 5.9 cents to $3.838 per gallon, the agency said, followed by a 4/10thof a penny jump in the Rocky Mountains to $3.729 per gallon. By contrast, average gasoline prices on the West Coast declined 4.4 cents to $3.889 per gallon.
Back on the hurricane-watch front, EIA noted that storm disruptions to oil and natural gas production in the U.S. portion of the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and along the Gulf Coast have declined in recent years because of regional shifts in where production takes place; there are now greater levels of production taking place at inland basins, which are generally less affected by storms.
For example, in 1997, 26% of the nation's natural gas was produced in the federal GOM; in 2012, that number was 6%. The GOM share of crude oil production also has declined, from 26% in 2007-2011 to 19% last year, the agency said.
The likelihood of storms making landfall somewhere in the United States increases sharply during hyperactive seasons, when the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index exceeds 165% of its 1981-2010 median value. For 2013, there is a 70% chance that the ACE range will be 120% to 205% of this median, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).