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In sudden upturn, diesel rises 8 cents

Jan. 24, 2023
Trucking’s main fuel also increased in every region monitored by U.S. EIA, reversing its trajectory of recent weeks. The surge for gasoline, used by some commercial fleets, was more severe.

The U.S. average for diesel fuel proved its volatility the week of Jan. 23 as it rose 8 cents to $4.604 per gallon, reversing the declines of most weeks recently. Trucking’s main fuel also was up for the week in all regions that the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) monitors.

Diesel was down slightly, 2.5 cents, last week. And it was looking like the national average might be headed toward the benchmark that EIA established for 2023—$4.48 per gallon—or lower but it went in the opposite direction the week of Jan. 23, perhaps because oil prices, both West Texas Intermediate and Brent, are now creeping up or on several more predictions that the markets may be headed toward a chaotic February based primarily on lower U.S. refining coupled with stronger-than-usual demand and jitters over restricted Russian energy.

See also: It's time to deeply evaluate your operations

Diesel is 82.4 cents higher than it was a year ago at this time, according to EIA. The national average for the fuel has dropped in nine of the past 10 weeks, however.

Trucking's main fuel tracked by motor club AAA had been inching up all week, so analysts could see the EIA news coming. AAA had the U.S. average for diesel up slightly for the week3.5 cents to $4.636 per gallonbut the motor club also tracks the averages, both diesel and every grade of gasoline, daily.

Price increases for gas, used by some commercial fleets and widely by consumers, were sharper, according to both EIA and AAA. EIA had gasoline up 10.5 cents to $3.415 per gallon, while AAA reported that regular gas (the motor club tracks three different grades) was 11.9 cents higher to $3.446 than last week.

Gasoline is now 9.2 cents higher than it was a year ago, by EIA's measure, a change from recent weeks when gas fell below its year-ago level.

Area-by-area indicators of more expensive fuel

Regional (EIA) or state-by-state (AAA) measures can be useful in telling trucking companies that run in certain critical or higher-traffic places for freight transportation what they might actually be paying for diesel.

Trucking's primary fuel rose everywhere, but the increases for the week of Jan. 23 were acute in some regions of the U.S. that are critical to freight hauling. The increase was almost 10 cents, 9.9 cents (to $4.473 per gallon), for example, in the Midwest while it was 9.6 cents (to $4.320) along the Gulf Coast. Along the East Coast, the increase was 5.8 cents for the week to $4.810 per gallon but higher in a vital subregion, the Lower Atlantic, where trucking’s main fuel rose 7.2 cents to $4.686.

The price increases were less severe in other EIA regions where diesel already is elevated such as the Rocky Mountains (up less than a penny to $4.736) and the historically priciest West Coast (6.9 cents higher to $5.095), which remains the only EIA region where trucking’s main fuel is above $5 a gallon, though EIA subregions such as California, New England, and the Central Atlantic also sit above that level.
About the Author

Scott Achelpohl | Managing Editor

I'm back to the trucking and transportation track of my career after some time away freelancing and working to cover the branches of the U.S. military, specifically the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Coast Guard. I'm a graduate of the University of Kansas and the William Allen White School of Journalism there with several years of experience inside and outside business-to-business journalism. I'm a wordsmith by nature, and I edit FleetOwner magazine and our website as well as report and write all kinds of news that affects trucking and transportation.

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