According to statistics drawn from the Dept. of Energy’s Retail On-Highway Diesel Prices, motor carriers across the country are paying less for diesel fuel this week than they have been for the last five weeks. The cost of diesel is also down significantly from the same period a year ago.
The national average for the week of August 13, 2007, was $2.85, down 1.76% from the week of August 7, when the average price of diesel was $2.90. More importantly, diesel fuel prices for the week of August 13 were down 7.11% over the same week a year ago.
Not surprisingly, carriers on the West Coast are paying the highest prices for diesel this week, with California leading the nation at $3.05, and the rest of the western states close runners-up at $3.02. The good news for them was that those prices are actually down from a year ago when they were paying, on average, $3.22/gal.
The lowest national averages this week are in the Gulf Coast states, $2.77, and the lower Atlantic states, $2.78.
Fleets operating in the Central Atlantic states, where diesel was very high a year ago ($3.13), are paying an average of $2.90 this week, representing a savings of 7.32%. There were similar savings for truck operators on the East Coast and in New England, Lower Atlantic and Midwest states. Rocky Mountain states, which are currently paying an average $2.98 for diesel, saw the biggest percent change (-10%) in the cost of diesel compared to the same week a year ago when they were paying a high of $3.31/gal.
While current decreases in the cost of diesel fuel are encouraging, the steady price hikes since 2002 have had their toll on carriers’ bottom lines. Reports from the ATA Financial & Operating Statistics 2002 show large increases in operating costs for carriers in all sectors. Carriers of general freight, for example, had an average $18.37 cost-per-mile in 2002 compared to today’s $34.65 (a difference of $16.26 in CPM). Heavy haulers, which typically operate at low MPGs, saw the biggest increase in CPM, going from $26.07 in 2002 to $49.18 for the week of 8/13 (a difference of $23.11).