According to the latest figures compiled by Martin Labbe Associates (MLA), diesel prices have spiked at a record-setting pace, soaring as much as a dime per gallon a week throughout the United States.
The national average for diesel has climbed to $3.41 a gallon, an increase of $.32 from only a month ago. It’s up nearly a dollar from last year at this time, when a gallon averaged $2.55, for an increase of 33.57%. This has had a substantial effect on carriers across the country.
In the past five years, the fuel cost for most carriers has more than doubled. This has led to a significant expense for freight carriers, making gasoline a far larger expense than it was as recently as five years ago.
According to the MLA report, the operating cost per mile of fuel for general freight carriers has skyrocketed from 18.37 cents per mile in 2002 up to 41.50 cents per mile this week. In addition, the price for heavy carriers has increased from 26.07 cents per mile to nearly 60 cents per mile during that time.
Denton Cinquegrana, West Coast markets editor for the Oil Price Information Service, told Fleet Owner that while a jump of 30 cents a month is extremely unlikely to continue, prices are not going to come down that quickly. He sees record prices continuing into the foreseeable future. “I don’t see it stopping in the next few weeks,” he said.
This comes at a time of year when fuel prices usually begin to decline. “There’s been a big jump at a time when gas and diesel fuel usually drop,” he said. “It’s counterintuitive to what you would expect.”
Regular gasoline is up to $3.09 per gallon, more than 20 cents higher than the average price last month. However, it has grown at a similar pace as diesel (up about $.85 a gallon) since this time a year ago. This has begun to effect demand and has contributed to the national economic slowdown, which impacts freight as well.