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Diesel surges to another record high

May 9, 2022
U.S. average for trucking’s main fuel jumps another 11.4 cents to a never-before-seen $5.623 per gallon—setting the record level for the second straight week.

The nationwide average price for diesel fuel set a record for the second straight week, rising 11.4 cents to $5.623 per gallon for the week of May 9, according to newly released government data.

Trucking’s main fuel has risen 46.3 cents in just two weeks and sits now at $2.437 more per gallon than a year ago, according to the new U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data.

Though AAA is focused on skyrocketing gasoline prices, the motor club also is tracking diesel prices—and doing so daily, whereas the EIA releases its data weekly. AAA’s daily U.S. average had diesel at below the EIA number at $5.540 on May 9, up a tick from the day before.

See also:  U.S. average diesel price shatters all-time high

The two-week surge reported by EIA is particularly striking on the East Coast, where diesel has gone up almost 70 cents in that time. Overall, along the East Coast, trucking’s main fuel was up 20.6 cents to $5.907 over EIA’s week of May 2 data. The subregions of New England and the Central Atlantic both saw jumps of 23.8 cents, to $6.339 per gallon in New England and $6.318 in the Central Atlantic. Diesel in the Lower Atlantic, another East Coast subregion, rose 17.9 cents to $5.580, according to the EIA data for the week of May 2.

Elsewhere, diesel rose 5 cents on the West Coast to $6.071 per gallon; in California—traditionally the most expensive—it was up 4.9 cents to $6.461 per gallon. The trucking fuel was up 12.9 cents along the Gulf Coast (to $5.339 per gallon), up 5.7 cents in the Midwest (to $5.386), and 5.5 cents higher in the Rocky Mountain region (to $5.461), according to the EIA data.

The news wasn't any better on May 9 for consumers. Gasoline surged 14.6 cents nationwide over the May 2 average to $4.328 per gallon, according to EIA. That's a 22.1-cent increase for gas over the last two weeks. The biggest jump for consumer fuel in any region or subregion occurred in the Central Atlantic, which saw gas rise 20.7 cents to $4.473 per gallon, followed by New England, where it surged 19 cents to $4.364, EIA says.

AAA has the May 10 nationwide average for regular gasoline at 46 cents higher than EIA on May 9 at $4.374, midgrade at $4.724, and premium at $5.011 per gallon.

Diesel inventories at a 16-year low; oil companies report soaring profits

Though the weeks-old Russian invasion of Ukraine shocked the oil and distillate markets in March and April, stakeholders inside and outside the trucking industry have been searching for answers as to why prices keep setting records and asking when the pain might subside. Announcements by nations about measures to penalize Russia and its energy interests for the invasion have largely subsided, though the E.U. still is trying to push through a  Russian oil embargo.

The historically high prices for diesel might be coming down to simple supply and demand.

Indicators have shown for months that demand for trucking’s main fuel remains high in an overheated economy and booming ecommerce. But now, plummeting stockpiles of diesel appear to be adding pressure, according to Financial Times, which reports diesel inventories are at their lowest since 2006.

The same story notes that oil refiners are enjoying a surge in profits. More reporting by FleetOwner’s sister publication, Oil & Gas Journal, sees oil company earnings starting to benefit greatly.

ConocoPhillips reported increases in earnings, production, and shareholder returns while Shell reported its highest quarterly profit since 2008 in the first quarter of 2022 with $9.1 billion in adjusted earnings, according to Oil & Gas Journal.

Also stressing the market is the price of crude oil, which again is solidly above $100 per barrel, headed toward the highs of $115 to $117 of a few weeks ago and perhaps beyond. A year ago, oil was about  $65 per barrel, according to EIA.

There aren't any indicators to show that trucking companies and independent operators might get some relief from soaring diesel prices. And as the summer travel season begins, the high-price fever might not break until fall.

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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