The weekly average retail diesel price posted Monday by the Department of Energy (DOE) was in the top 20 biggest one-week increases in the history of the data series – and particularly steep compared to upward moves in the last seven years.
The DOE/Energy Information Administration (EIA) price posted Monday was $3.081/gallon, up from $2.987/gallon, an increase of 9.4 cents/gallon (cnts/g). It was the fourth largest weekly gain since the start of 2012. The price climbed 15.3 cts/g on Sept. 4, 2017 (Hurricane Harvey), 9.5 cts/g on Feb. 4, 2013 and 11.5 cts/g on Aug. 5, 2012, in the midst of a relatively busy hurricane season.
The DOE/EIA weekly retail diesel price is the basis for most fuel surcharges.
There were far greater weekly increases at other times going back to the start of the price’s history in 2007. There were three weekly double-digit increases in May 2008 as oil markets marched toward their all-time high in July 2008; the DOE diesel price peaked at $4.771/g on July 14 of that year. There were back-to-back double digit increases in both Nov. 2007 and March 2008 – also on the way to the all-time high. And the start of the Libyan revolution in February 2011 spurred back-to-back increases of 14.3 cts/g and 15.6 cts/g.
Last week’s percentage gain of 3.15% was also in the top 20 since the start of the DOE series in 2007.
While drivers may be frustrated at times that retail prices don’t fall as quickly as spot prices, the FUELS.USA data series in SONAR shows that the spread between the national retail diesel price (SONAR: DTS.USA) and the wholesale diesel price for ultra-low-sulfur diesel (SONAR:ULSDR.USA) has actually narrowed.
The ULSDR.USA price has been up and down but is mostly up since the drone and cruise missile attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure a little more than a week ago. Yet the retail price has come in closer to the average price, which at least in terms of data negates the criticism that retailers are not moving their prices in sympathy with their wholesale costs.
The California DOE/EIA weekly retail diesel price rose by a smaller amount than the national price. It climbed 7.5 cts/g to $3.976/g. The California DOE/EIA price, given the big gap between California prices and the rest of the country for a variety of reasons, is used separately as the basis for fuel surcharges in that state.