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Diesel prices begin to creep up amid arctic front

Jan. 17, 2024
Diesel prices rose across the country this week, with the national average reaching $3.863 after an increase of three cents.

The fall of diesel prices appears at an end. For the first time in 2024, more regions saw increases in the diesel prices than decreases. As of the week of Jan. 15, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) found the national average for U.S. on-highway diesel fuel prices to be $3.863, three cents higher than a week ago.

While diesel fuel prices are all still lower than this time last year, the widespread increase could be due to greater demand for fuel generated by the cold front currently covering much of North America. Regardless, while most regions and the nation at large saw an increase in diesel fuel costs, the price hike was minimal, ranging from 2-6 cents across the board. The Gulf Coast saw the largest increase of 6 cents to $3.592 per gallon, while the Central Atlantic subregion saw no change at all from the week before, leaving its prices at $4.249 for the second week in a row.

Only three regions saw a decrease in diesel prices. These included the New England subregion, which dropped two cents to $4.296; the Rocky Mountain region, which fell four cents to $3.755; and California, which dipped one cent to cost $5.142 per gallon. Despite the variety in the nation’s diesel pricing, the Gulf Coast is still the cheapest place to purchase fuel, while California is still the most expensive.

The AAA motor club found logged this week’s average diesel prices at $3.917, five cents more expensive than the EIA’s report, but three cents lower than last week’s diesel price of $3.947. This also placed this week’s diesel prices well below the AAA’s report of diesel prices last year, which reached $4.597.

Looking ahead into 2024 and 2025, the EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook, which was released on Jan. 9, anticipated that monthly retail diesel costs will largely hover around the annual diesel average. They also forecasted a drop of 29 cents per gallon for diesel prices in 2024, due to component price changes.

Read more: Diesel prices' slow decline into 2024

Gasoline prices continue decline

Unlike the EIA’s diesel reports, gasoline prices largely continued to drop the week of Jan. 15. The administration reported a U.S. regular gasoline price of $3.058, about one cent cheaper than last week and 25 cents cheaper than last year. The price drops ranged from one cent to 12 cents (up to $4.339 per gallon) in California, with only the Midwest seeing a gasoline price increase of 5 cents to $2.823.

As gas prices have continued to fall, albeit slowly, the Gulf Coast is still the cheapest place to buy fuel at $2.676 per gallon, while California is the most expensive at $4.339.

In comparison, AAA’s current average U.S. gas price is at $3.068 per gallon, which is barely cheaper than last week’s price of $3.078. Even so, the cost is better than last year’s average at this time, which was $3.305 per gallon.

In a news release from the AAA, the organization noted that gas prices likely plateaued due to oil casts and gasoline demand. However, this could change if the cold weather continues.

“The mid-winter blahs will likely keep pump prices waffling a few cents up and down for the immediate future,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. “But keep an eye on frigid temps because those can affect refinery production, pushing some regional pump prices higher.”

However, the EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook overall forecast another decline in gas prices, with a U.S. average of about $3.40 per gallon in 2024, and $3.20 in 2025. This could be due to the administration’s anticipation that the U.S. will produce 13.2 billion barrels of crude oil per day in 2024, and more than 13.4 billion per day in 2025.

About the Author

Alex Keenan

Alex Keenan is an Associate Editor for Fleet Maintenance magazine. She has written on a variety of topics for the past several years and recently joined the transportation industry, reviewing content covering technician challenges and breaking industry news. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.