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DOE/EIA diesel price up; now highest since 2018

Big gains in Southeast on back of Colonial woes help propel benchmark number higher

Image: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

Three consecutive weeks of increases in the Department of Energy/Energy Information Administration’s weekly diesel price have now lifted it above where it was at the end of its record-breaking 20-week run of higher numbers.

The price announced Monday was $3.249 a gallon, an increase of 6.3 cents. After the 20 weeks of increases that ended March 23, the DOE/EIA price stood at $3.1941 a gallon.

This week’s number is the highest price since November 2018.

The price of ultra low sulfur diesel last week on the CME commodity exchange rose just approximately 2 cents a gallon over the course of the week. But in some of the areas hard hit by the outage of supplies on the Colonial Pipeline, wholesale prices took a sharper increase. 

For example, the ultra low sulfur diesel price in Atlanta, according to the ULSDR.ATL data series in SONAR, was $2.05 a gallon on the day the Colonial outage was announced. By Thursday, it had reached $2.18 a gallon before falling back to $2.156 a gallon Monday.

To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, please go here.

The regional data from the EIA showed that variance. For example, the diesel price for what it calls the lower Atlantic, which would cover the Southeast, rose 7.9 cents a gallon. The Gulf Coast was up 6.1 cents. But the Rocky Mountain region area, unaffected by anything that happened on Colonial, was up just 5.4 cents. California was up 2.1 cents.

The relatively tame price increases on the CME in part reflect the fact that the current contract is for product delivered into New York Harbor in June, long after the Colonial outage would be an issue.

But diesel continues to outperform crude. The spread between ULSD and benchmark Brent crude Monday was 17.07 cents a gallon. That is less than where it was at the start of last week. But before it cracked that 17-cents figure last week, the spread had not been above that level since the end of March 2020.

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.