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fuel pumps Photo: Sean Kilcarr/American Trucker

U.S. fuel prices continue to follow downward path

Slight price uptick for diesel in California, gasoline in Midwest, EIA data shows.

Diesel and gasoline prices in the U.S. continued to fall this week, according to data tracked by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), which also noted that planned refinery outages for routine maintenance through June of this year should not affect fuel supplies, despite high levels of gasoline demand.

The national average price for diesel dipped two cents to $3.007 per gallon this week, which is 43 cents per gallon higher compared to the same week in 2017, the agency reported.

Diesel prices dropped in all regions of the country this week except for California, where prices inched up 2/10ths of a penny to $3.66 per gallon, which is the highest price for diesel in the nation.

Three other regions also sport diesel prices above the $3 per gallon mark this week:

  • New England: down 2/10ths of a penny to $3.127 per gallon
  • Central Atlantic: down 1.9 cents to $3.255 per gallon
  • West Coast: down 2/10ths of a penny to $3.397 per gallon

The national average process for gasoline slipped 9/10ths of a penny this week to $2.548 per gallon, EIA noted, which is 23.4 cents per gallon higher compared to the same week last year.

Gasoline prices increased in only two regions of the country this week: the Midwest – up 1.5 cents to $2.405 per gallon – and the West Coast, up 6/1ths of a penny to $3.136 per gallon, though that shifts to a 1/10th of a penny drop to $2.751 per gallon with California removed from the mix.

EIA added that its latest analysis of planned refinery outages in the U.S. running form December 2017 through June of this year – determined that they are not likely to cause a shortfall in the supply of petroleum products including gasoline, jet fuel, and distillate fuel (from which diesel is made), relative to expected demand, either nationally or within any U.S. region. EIA reached this conclusion despite the current high level of U.S. gasoline demand, which in 2017 was as high as or higher than in any past year, it said.

EIA's conclusions are the result of simulating regional supply on a monthly basis based on a set of assumptions about refinery operations. The report considers planned shutdowns of refinery units as reported by Industrial Info Resources (IIR) and provides EIA's analysis of the implications of outages affecting atmospheric crude distillation units, fluidized catalytic cracking units, catalytic reforming units, hydrocracking units, and coking units.

Barring unusually high unplanned outages, planned outages that extend beyond schedule, or higher-than-expected demand, EIA said it expects the supply of gasoline, jet fuel, and distillate fuel to be adequate in all regions through June of this year.

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