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API Weekly Diesel Update

Source: API 9/8/2005, Location: North America

U.S. retail diesel prices rose 30.8 cents last week, the largest week-to-week increase recorded since the Energy Information Administration started the survey. The national average for diesel (including taxes) on Monday, September 5 reached a record price of $2.898 per gallon, and for the first time was up more than a dollar (55.1 percent) from year-ago average price of $1.869 per gallon. Diesel prices reached record prices in all five regions.

In the lead was the East Coast region posting an increase of 33.6 cents from a week ago, followed by the Gulf Coast (32.5 cents), the Midwest (31.1 cents), the Rocky Mountain region (25.0 cents) and the West Coast (22.9). The West Coast region diesel price was above $3 for the first time at $3.149 per gallon. Diesel prices in the State of California reached a record price of $3.250 per gallon, up 20.5 cents from last week and up $1.11 from last year.

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, the national residential heating oil price for the month of July was at a record high, averaging at $2.173 per gallon. This was up 11.4 cents (5.5 percent) from the previous month and was 63.7 cents (41.5 percent) higher than last year.

Diesel fuel prices generally track those of crude oil. The price of crude oil is the main factor in the price of diesel fuel, and fluctuations in the crude oil market greatly influence changes in diesel prices. Short-run factors that can cause divergences from this correlation include: supply shortages resulting from refinery outages, transportation issues, adverse weather conditions, and pipeline problems. On Tuesday, September 6, NYMEX crude oil closed at $65.96 per barrel, down $1.25 (1.8 percent) from last Mondayís price of $67.20 per barrel and $22.65 (52.3 percent) from last year closing price. This was $3.85 (5.5 percent) below the August 30 record price of $69.81 per barrel.

The national total distillate inventories for the week ending September 2 were 131.2 million barrels, down 1.7 million barrels from last week. This was 4.9 million barrels (3.9 percent) above the year-ago stock and 7.9 million barrels (6.4 percent) higher than the 5-year average stock level. The current level is nearly 48 million barrels greater than the National Petroleum Councilís estimate of lower operational inventories of 85 million barrels.

East Coast distillate stocks for the week ending September 2 were 55.3 million barrels, down 0.4 million barrels (0.7percent) from last week. This was 4.5 million barrels (8.9 percent) higher than last yearís stock level of 50.8 million barrels and 7.2 million barrels (15.0 percent) above the 5-year stock average of 48.1 million barrels. Midwest distillate stocks for the week ending September 2 were 29.1 million barrels, versus last yearís stock of 32.2 million barrels and the 5-year stock average of 30.1 million barrels.

U.S. refineries ran lower this week due to Hurricane Katrina at 86.9 percent of capacity this week, the lowest since September 24, 2004 during Hurricane Ivan, at 85 percent of capacity. Total inputs into the nationís 149 refineries for the week ending September 2 were down 9.5 percentage points from the previous week and 10.2 percentage point lower than a year ago. U.S. total distillate fuel production for the week ending September 2 was 3.82 million barrels per day, the lowest output since March 18. This was down 454 thousand barrels from last week and 201 thousand barrels below last yearís output level of 4.02 million barrels per day. U.S. high-sulfur distillate (heating oil) production for the week ending September 2 was 1.02 million barrels per day, down 131 thousand barrels per day from last week and up 26 thousand barrels per day from previous yearís output of 0.99 million barrels per day.

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