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Diesel Fuel Up $2.221, But Now Lower Than Gasoline

May 12, 2009

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The average U.S. pump price for on-highway diesel climbed 3.1 cents to $2.216 per gallon in the past week, according to the federal Department of Energy's weekly fuel price report.
But diesel fuel is still 48.8% lower than at this time a year ago, when it cost $4.331 a gallon, and is lower than gasoline for the first time since July 2007.

The Midwest region experienced the lowest average price for diesel - at $2.156 per gallon - while the West Coast reported the highest diesel average of the five main regions at $2.329 per gallon. Nationwide, the average price of a gallon of ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) increased 3.1 cents to $2.223. ULSD prices are also down 48.8% from a year earlier.

DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA) also announced that the average price of U.S. retail gasoline surged 16.2 cents to a 27-week high of $2.240 per gallon. Though now about 3 cents higher than diesel, gasoline prices are still 39.8% lower than at this time last year. EIA collects prices from 350 retail diesel outlets to compile its weekly reports.

Last Friday, the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil rose $1.92 to $58.63 (its highest level since last November 11,) on a better-than-expected U.S. employment report and renewed hopes that the U.S. economy is on the road to recovery. A weaker U.S. dollar also contributed to Friday's gain in oil prices. The price of WTI oil has increased approximately 73% since mid-February; however, it is down 53.5% from a year earlier.

Last Wednesday, the EIA said that U.S. commercial crude oil stockpiles expanded by 605,000 barrels to 375.3 million barrels during the final week of April. Compared with the same week last year, crude oil inventories were up 15.3%. Meanwhile, total diesel (low sulfur and ultra-low sulfur) stocks rose by 1.5 million barrels to a seven-week high of 107.9 million.

Total diesel inventories were 28.5% higher than at the same time in 2008. During that same week, gasoline stocks contracted by 167,000 barrels to 212.4 million barrels. Despite the reduction, gasoline inventories were 0.3% above year-ago levels. Finally, U.S. refinery utilization (the percentage of refinery units in use) climbed from 82.7% to 85.3%, its highest level since December 5, 2008. -From EIA and American Trucking Associations

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