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Diesel dips below $5 a gallon

Sept. 22, 2022
With 6.9-cent drop to $4.964, U.S. average for trucking’s main fuel continues almost three months of declines, interrupted only by 20.6-cent spike three weeks ago that now must be seen as an anomaly.

The U.S. average for diesel fuel slid below the $5-per-gallon mark for the week of Sept. 19, marking the continuation of almost three months of declines, except for an anomalous surge three weeks ago, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Trucking’s main fuel was down 6.9 cents nationwide for the week of Sept. 19 to $4.964 per gallon, its first trip below the $5 mark since Aug. 22 and the week before the weekly average spiked 20.6 cents.

See also: Diesel drops close to $5 mark again

Diesel has been trending downward since it set a record of $5.81 per gallon the week of June 20. The nationwide average, even after those months of mostly uninterrupted declines, is still $1.579 more expensive than it was a year ago, according to EIA.

Motor club AAA has had its measurement of the U.S. diesel average trending below $5 all week. AAA had the average down to $4.95 per gallon on Sept. 19, a decline of a penny from the day before and 6.1 cents lower than a week ago. AAA reports diesel and gasoline prices daily, weekly, and state-by-state, while EIA tracks the fuels weekly and by region of the country.

Diesel is down below $5 now in every region (in some regions, significantly below) of the U.S., except the West Coast, where truckers there have seen the fuel decline steadily in recent weeks. The fuel also declined in every region of the U.S. for the week of Sept. 19.

See also: Truck dealerships must prepare for electric adoption

Diesel is the lowest on the Gulf Coast, where it was down 7 cents for the week to $4.69 per gallon. It was down on the East Coast to $4.889, a 6-cent decrease, and in the Rocky Mountain region, the fuel stood at $4.932, down 2.9 cents. It was down 9 cents in the Midwest to $4.995. On the most-expensive West Coast, diesel declined 4.6 cents to $5.612 per gallon.

The magic mark for gasoline, used by some commercial fleets and broadly by consumers, has been $4 per gallon, and thanks to steep declines most of the summer, gas now is down well below that level in nearly every region of the country and, on the Gulf Coast, is even approaching pre-pandemic $3 per gallon. EIA had gasoline down 3.6 cents to $3.654 per gallon for the week of Sept. 19 (47 cents higher than a year ago), and AAA’s daily average as of Sept. 20 was $3.674 (almost 48 cents more expensive).

Lower crude prices drive distillate declines

The drivers of lower diesel and gasoline prices appear to be mainly crude oil prices that have fallen but also demand that is flattening.

West Texas Intermediate crude was up slightly but still around the $85-per-barrel mark, a far cry from prices well above $100 a few months ago. Brent is down less but still well below $100 at $92 per barrel. Crude prices are down $30 since a peak in early June.

According to one analyst, fears of an economic slowdown are putting a cap on crude prices, also reflecting fears of a lull in China as well as a recession in the U.S.

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Scott Achelpohl