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U.S. diesel surges ease, average rises 1.7 cents

Sept. 6, 2023
Some stability returns after sharp increases—many by double digits—have sent the per-gallon price of fuel soaring nearly 70 cents since mid-July. But crude production cuts and refinery outages might soon bring more volatility to the U.S. average.

Relative stability returned to the U.S. average for diesel fuel on Sept. 5, as the fuel rose for the seventh straight week but by 1.7 cents this week to $4.492 per gallon, according to new U.S. Energy Information Administration data.

EIA's average has soared nearly 70 cents since mid-July, many weeks by double digits, and it has trended north in every or most regions and subregions of the U.S. that the government energy agency monitors. But for the week of Sept. 5, trucking's main fuel headed down in three of those 10 regions and subregions, and where diesel rose it did so moderately. This belies fears that emerged last week that fuel prices would shoot up after a storage tank fire on Aug. 25 at least partially shut down the nation's third-largest refinery in Garyville, Louisiana, sending diesel futures to multi-month highs.

See also: High fuel chipping away at shippers' market

Two more large East Coast refineries in the U.S. are due to start their maintenance cycles, Saudi and OPEC production cuts continue to threaten diesel prices overseas, and both West Texas Intermediate crude and Brent crude oil reached new 2023 highs on Sept. 1, so diesel and gasoline prices still face significant pressure. But for this week trucking operations received a little relief, according to EIA, whose U.S. average is still 59.2 cents lower per gallon than a year ago.

Motor club AAA's diesel average also rose moderately on Sept. 6 from the week before: 1.5 cents to $4.452 per gallon but 60.7 cents lower than Sept. 6, 2022.

EIA’s measure of the U.S. average for gasoline, widely used by consumers and pumped in considerable quantities by small fleets and work truck operators, dropped six-tenths of a penny to $3.807. Unlike diesel, the gas average is 6.1 cents higher than it was a year ago, but that fuel is down in six of 10 regions and subregions.

Regionally, diesel slows its roll post-Labor Day

The largest increase in the U.S. for trucking's main fuel showed up along the traditionally expensive West Coast, where the fuel rose 8.8 cents to $5.39 per gallon. California, the only place in the U.S. where diesel rose by double digits, fueled the surge out West with a 12.3-cent increase to $5.801.

See also: August trucking jobs fall, reflecting Yellow's demise

Diesel dropped on the East Coast (a fraction of a penny lower to $4.474 per gallon), in one subregion of the East Coast, the Lower Atlantic (exactly a penny less to $4.419), and in the Midwest (also a fraction of a cent lower to $4.383 per gallon). The fuel rose a fraction along the Gulf Coast (two-tenths of a cent to $4.171) and much more in the Rocky Mountain region (6.9 cents higher to $4.727).

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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