Crude oil is hovering around $100 a gallon, leading to a severe spike in both diesel and gasoline prices and to growing concern for consumers about just how high the prices may eventually go.
Statistics compiled by the U.S. Energy Dept.'s Energy Information Administration estimates the diesel price across the country at $3.55, a 15-cent jump from a week before and $.27 more than two weeks before.
According to the EIA, the $3.55 average diesel price is a full dollar more than one year earlier. The highest prices are in New England, where average prices have soared to $3.71 a gallon. However, the Central Atlantic region is averaging $3.69 a gallon, a $.28 increase in the past two weeks, compared to a $.17 jump the past two weeks in New England.
Denton Cinquegrana, markets editor for the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), told FleetOwner that while prices do tend to spike upwards this time of year, at these prices there's definitely cause for concern. "Because we may already be in a recession, it will definitely have an impact," he said.
"This country focuses mostly on gasoline, but worldwide diesel is the standard," Cinquegrana said. With crude oil high, closing today at $99.01, prices for both gasoline and diesel have been reaching record heights all around the world, with Cinquegrana noting especially high prices in Europe, reaching all-time records for the region.
Usually the prices begin to rise in February and peak right before Memorial Day, he said, although not always steadily—prices will occasionally rise or fall slightly during these months during their slope upwards.
Cinquegrana said that it is common for prices to rise 25 to 30% in late winter and early spring, but thinks the percentage will most likely be less this year due to the already high prices.
However, he noted, if the percentages do spike even 20% this year, it would be a pretty big deal due to the current market situation.