Fleetowner 3769 Fuel3

U.S. fuel prices rise even as oil imports continue falling

Dec. 31, 2013

Average retail pump prices in the U.S. for diesel and gasoline continued to rise this week – in many cases moving higher than price points set during the same time period in 2012 – even as domestic crude oil production continues to grow; exceeding the amount imported for the first time in 18 years.

According to data tracked by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average retail pump price for diesel in the U.S. increased 3 cents to $3.903 per gallon, which is only 1.5 cents per gallon cheaper than the same week in 2012.

Diesel prices increased in every region of the U.S. this week, the agency noted, with diesel exceeding the $4 per gallon mark in four areas: New England ($4.111 per gallon), the Central Atlantic ($4.016), California ($4.104), and the West Coast ($4.025, though that drops to $3.93 when California’s pricing is removed from the mix).

EIA’s data indicated the biggest one-week jumps in diesel prices occurred on the West Coast (a 4.7 cent per gallon increase, though that scales down to 4 cents when California is included), New England (4.2 cents), and the Midwest (4 cents). The agency pointed out that diesel prices this week exceeded marks set during the same time period in 2012 in four regions: the Midwest, the Rock Mountains, the West Coast, and California.

Average U.S. retail pump prices for gasoline increased 6 cents to $3.331 per gallon this week, according to EIA, which is 3.3 cents per gallon more expensive than the same week in 2012. Average retail pump prices in all regions of the U.S. now exceed marks set during the same time period last year except for the Lower Atlantic, where gasoline prices are 2/10ths of a penny cheaper compared to the same week in 2012.

The highest prices for gasoline this week are in New England ($3.548 per gallon) and the West Coast ($3.526, though that drops to $3.317 when California’s pricing is removed). The biggest one-week jump in retail gasoline pump prices occurred in the Midwest, a whopping 10.4 cents per gallon, with the Gulf Coast recording a 5.6 cent per gallon increase.

Yet diesel and gasoline prices are increasing in the U.S. even as monthly crude oil production is expected to exceed the amount of U.S. crude oil imports later this year for the first time since February 1995.

According to EIA’s data, the gap between monthly U.S. crude oil production and imports is projected to be almost 2 million barrels per day (bbl/d) by the end of next year – oil being primarily produced from shale and other tight rock formations in North Dakota and Texas. Other agency projections include:

  • Monthly crude oil production could surpass net crude oil imports by the end of 2013.
  • Monthly crude oil production is forecast to top 8 million bbl/d in the fourth quarter of 2014, which would be the highest level since 1988.
  • Net crude oil imports are expected to fall below 7 million bbl/d in the fourth quarter of 2014 for the first time since 1995.

EIA cautioned, though, that timing of this “crossover” between U.S. crude oil production and net crude oil imports could change due to supply conditions. For example, supply would decrease if a strong 2013 hurricane season disrupts U.S. offshore oil production – thus delaying or preventing this crossover –  or increase if there are higher-than-expected increases in tight oil production, meaning production might exceed imports sooner than forecast, the agency said.

EIA also noted in its Annual Energy Outlook 2014 released earlier this month that slowing U.S. population growth, shifts in driving patterns, and especially improved light vehicle fuel economy are dramatically altering fuel and energy consumption calculations for the future.

The agency said annual increases in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) for light-duty vehicles (LDVs) in its 2014 outlook average 0.9% from 2012 to 2040, compared to 1.2% per year in its 2013 report over the same period. Rising fuel economy of LDVs more than offsets the modest growth in VMT, EIA noted, with LDV energy consumption declining from 16.0 quadrillion British Thermal Units (Btu) in 2012 to 12.1 quadrillion Btu in 2040.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations

Report: The 2024 State of Heavy-Duty Repair

From capitalizing on the latest revenue trends to implementing strategic financial planning—this report serves as a roadmap for navigating the challenges and opportunities of ...

Fleet Industry Benchmarks: How does your fleet stack up?

Discover how your fleet compares to industry benchmarks and gain insights from a 2024 Benchmarking Report on maintenance spend, turnaround time, and more. Join us to identify ...

Build a Tolling Program to Manage Toll Fees and Risks

Fleets looking to effectively manage their operational costs should consider their tolling costs. Download the PrePass whitepaper, “Build a Tolling Program to Manage Toll Fees...

Reducing CSA Violations & Increasing Safety With Advanced Trailer Telematics

Keep the roads safer with advanced trailer telematics. In this whitepaper, see how you can gain insights that lead to increased safety and reduced roadside incidents—keeping drivers...