Category Archives: Trucker News

Information for truckers and haulers

Gas Prices Rise And Fall Based On Regional Influences

2015-04-13-trendOhio Gas Prices Spike, Holding U.S. Average In Check

The national average price of gas barely moved during the past week, according to the latest weekly report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The E.I.A. report shows U.S. gas prices remained unchanged at $2.41 per gallon, but region by region, the numbers tell a different story. For instance, drivers in California are paying about 5¢ less for gas this week, but drivers in Ohio are paying 11¢ more. Midwestern gas prices are typically the most volatile and can often influence the national average, as was the case during the past week.

Meanwhile, prices were mixed across the country, with prices across New England dropping by about a penny. However, prices across the Central Atlantic and Lower Atlantic states rose slightly, putting the broader East Coast prices slightly higher. For drivers in the Rocky Mountains, prices went up about three cents per gallon.

Truckers Get A Break With Diesel Prices Down

Meanwhile, the price of diesel dropped in every region last week, a good sign for truckers. The average price for a gallon of diesel fuel dropped an even 3¢ during the past week to $2.75 per gallon. Prices were down between two and four cents per gallon in every region except the West Coast, where a one-penny per gallon increase in California prevented the regional average from moving significantly. The West Coast averages, sans the Golden State, were down two cents per gallon.

Crude Oil Prices Are Up, But So Is Crude Supply

Pipeline Crossroads Monument

Crude oil supplies in Cushing, Oklahoma are high, the result of crude production in the U.S. Photo: Ben Cochran via Wikipedia.org.

Meanwhile, crude oil prices have been climbing slowly but steadily for the past month, for both domestic and overseas crude. The price of West Texas Intermediate was set to open early Tuesday at just over $52 per barrel after climbing about a half-dollar in overnight trading. Brent Crude was poised to open at just over $58 per barrel. That could signal a potential rise in fuel prices in the short term, but the longer-term forecast is that prices will continue to drop through the year.

The E.I.A. reported last week the price of Brent crude is likely to fall as much as 40 percent this year, and U.S. crude oil stocks at Cushing, Oklahoma, are enough to supply the country for the next 30 days, keeping downward pressure on retail prices.

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Gas Prices Slip Downward After Weeks Of Increases

Domestic And Overseas Crude Oil Destabilized

2015-03-16-trendThe price of gas did an about-face in most regions of the country during the past week, according to the latest weekly gas price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The E.I.A. report shows the average U.S. cost for a gallon of regular unleaded fell to $3.45 per gallon. While the national average price fell 3.4¢, the declines in some regions were barely felt, while other survey districts enjoyed larger price drops.

Regional Gas Price Shifts Vary Widely

Midwestern gas prices, usually quite volatile, had among the larger price declines during the past week, with prices slipped won just over a nickel per gallon. Those price drops were outpaced only by the West Coast region, which was hit hard just two weeks ago by substantial double-digit price increases. West Coast gasoline declined nearly 7¢ per gallon last week, but the bigger declines were confined to California and its large metropolitan areas. Remove the Golden State from the averages, and West Coast gas only went down about 4¢ per gallon.

Meanwhile, the drivers across the Rockies are paying much more for gas this week than last, according to the E.I.A., which reports the price of unleaded went up by about 6¢ per gallon in the Rocky Mountain survey region, the only region to experience a price increase. Prices across that area settled at about $2.29 per gallon, but that is well below the national average.

Black diesel pump nozzleGas Price Trends Extend To Trucking Industry

The Rocky Mountain region price increases affected truckers and haulers, too. The cost of diesel increased by about a penny per gallon across the survey district last week, while the broader national average price of diesel was down nearly 3¢ last week. For truckers driving across New England, the price of diesel fell just over 6¢, giving that region the biggest price decline of the week. For those regions experiencing an actual drop in diesel prices, the Lower Atlantic states had the lowest overall price decline, at just over a penny per gallon.

Crude Oil Prices Once Again In Focus

The about-face in gas prices came as crude oil began destabilizing once more at the end of last week. Prices had been lurking in a range from the high $40 per barrel to low $50 per barrel range for domestic crude, West Texas Intermediate. Brent crude, the overseas benchmark, had been trading in the high $50 per barrel to low $60 per barrel range. As of Tuesday morning, however, both futures indices had fallen substantially, with WTI now trading in the low $40 per barrel range and Brent in the low $50 per barrel range.

Broader Issues Than Supply And Demand At Play

The decline in prices can be traced to a pair of primary factors. The first is the glut of domestic crude being produced by the United States, which has been a significant factor in the pricing equation for months. The other issue is the strength of the U.S. dollar, which has been gaining ground in recent weeks due to the anticipated end of bond buying by the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank. Meanwhile, the Eurozone economies are about to experience their own brand of quantitative easing, which has resulted in a weaker Euro. Combined, the actions of the Fed and the European Central Bank have many investors fleeing to U.S. dollars, which makes U.S. oil more expensive overseas.

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Gas Prices Skirt Upward, Decline In Midwest

National Average Moves Higher By Two Cents

Gas price trend for week of March 9, 2015The national average price of a gallon of gas went up another two cents during the past week, as detailed in the latest pricing survey released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The E.I.A. report shows the average gas price in the U.S. is now $2.49 per gallon, which is 45¢ higher than just five weeks ago. However, the price is still down well over $1.00 from this period a year ago.

The price of gas surged across the West Coast last week, and while price increases were not as substantial this week, they dragged the national averages higher. The Rocky Mountain states also experienced a surge in pricing, as the region gave up its tenuous slot as the cheapest region for gas.

Gas prices in Round Rock, Texas, near Austin. prices have jumped nearly 30¢ in the past month.

Gas prices in Round Rock, Texas, near Austin, adjacent to the TX-45 toll road. Prices there have jumped nearly 30¢ in the past month. Photo: Eric Scallion.

The Gulf Coast states, typically the place to find the least-expensive gas, reclaimed their slot as the cheapest place in the nation to buy fuel. Prices across the West Coast went up 5¢ per gallon, but when California is removed from the equation, the price increases were closer to 11¢ per gallon. That trend also held in the Rocky Mountains, where prices jumped 11¢ week on week.

In the Midwestern states, where prices are typically volatile, the price of gas actually went down, the only region to show a pricing retreat in the past week. The cost of fuel dipped by 4¢ to settle at $2.34 per gallon, which is also well below the national average.

Diesel Fuel Costs Rise, But Slowly Compared To Unleaded

The price of diesel fuel continues to creep upward, and it is only creeping, indeed. The price of a gallon of diesel, nationwide, is now averaging about $2.94, up about one penny on the week. Diesel prices have been rising slowly, compared with their unleaded fuel counterparts, but that also follows a much slower decline in prices, too. Retail diesel costs did not decline as quickly as unleaded gasoline during the last six months of 2014.

Crude Oil, Summer Gas And Strong Dollar Influencing Prices

The price of crude oil continues to influence retail gas prices, but the wholesale gasoline prices are also playing a substantial role. Despite a glut of oil domestically and around the world, U.S. prices are rising, in part, because of a switch to summer fuel blends, which are more expensive to produce. Gas prices typically increase in the first few months of the year, ahead of the summer driving season.

The stronger U.S. dollar is also creating problems, because it makes U.S. oil more expensive on the open markets, driving global prices higher, and that can reverberate on the U.S. retail gasoline market. The timing of that influence, however, remains to be seen.

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Gas Prices Rise, But Pace Of Increase Slowing

Third Consecutive Week Of Price Hikes May Only Be Beginning

Gas price trend for week of February 23, 2015The price of gas increased another six cents on the week, according to the latest report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The weekly survey of districts shows the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded is now $2.33, up 19¢ in the past three weeks. The weekly price increases were led by shocking hikes across California and the broader West Coast Region, where prices jumped 14¢ and 9¢, respectively. Price increases across the rest of the nation were either at or below the national average increase of 6¢ per gallon.

Diesel Increasing In Price The Same Way It Declined: Slowly

For truckers, the price of diesel also increased, but not as intensely. The nationwide average cost for a gallon of diesel is now $2.90, up about 4¢ on the week. The price of diesel came down sooner than its regular gasoline counterpart in 2014, but it did so at a slower rate than gas. As unleaded fuels have increased in price, the diesel price increases have also been moving at a slower pace, which means somewhat less volatility, at least at the retail level.

Crude Volatility And Summer Blends Influencing Gas Prices

The price changes are reflective of continued uncertainty in the crude oil futures markets, which have found a broad trading range during February. A supply glut is forecast to persist through at least the second, and most likely the third quarter, according to industry analysts, which was a significant part of the precipitous declines seen since July. Both Citigroup’s Edward Morse and Vitol Group’s Ian Taylor opined two weeks ago that crude oil prices were still likely to trend lower until later this year. They disagreed on the timing of a future upward move in crude, but the consensus was that the oversupply causing the downward price pressure would continue until well into the summer.

Tri-State Tollway view from the Hinsdale Oasis

This summer view of the Tri-State Tollway, near Chicago, may seem like a distant memory now, but refinery operators are already switching to output summer gasoline blends, contributing to higher prices.

The other factor is the summer fuel blends, themselves, which reflects increased refining costs for producers. That element is likely the greatest issue for consumer prices at the moment, as this is the time refineries are switching over to summer blends for the coming driving seasons.

The summer fuel blend issue aside, supply is expected to remain quite plentiful, which could put an upward limit on the current price increases. Vincent Piazza of Bloomberg Business reported February 18 shale production continues to increase, even in the current environment. The reason is the efficiency of drilling sites versus their older counterparts, many of which have been closed down in the past year.

Year On Year Prices Still Much Lower

For consumers, the price of gas is still far cheaper today than it was at this time last year. On average, most drivers are paying about $1.11 less for a gallon of gas than at this time in 2014. For truckers, the nationwide average price is down by about the same amount, at $1.12.

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Gas Prices Surge Second Consecutive Week

After Months Of Decline, Prices Rebound Amid More Stable Crude Prices

Gas price trend for week of February 16, 2015The price of gas took another leap higher during the past week, according to the latest report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The weekly E.I.A. report shows the cost of gas jumped eight  cents last week, and that followed a week in which prices jumped 12 cents per gallon. In all, however, the price of gas is still significantly lower that it was at this time last year. As it stands, the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.27, which is 23¢ higher than where gas settled at the end of January.

West Coast drivers suffered the biggest price increase, by region, during the week. The E.I.A. survey shows consumer fuel costs jumped 15¢ per gallon, by far the highest increase nationwide. The runner up, the Gulf Coast states, had a price increase of nine cents per gallon.

Prices along the Gulf Coast have been rising faster than other regions. Photo: Eric Scallion.

Prices along the Gulf Coast have been rising faster than other regions. Photo: Eric Scallion.

The numbers by state are equally dramatic. In California, which lead the West Coast price surge, the coast of a gallon of gas soared over 17¢. In Florida, where early spring break travelers will soon be arriving for vacation, the cost of filling up rose 12¢ per gallon.

Truckers Hit With Less Costly Price Increase

Diesel prices are also rising, but not as severely. The average cost of a gallon of diesel, nationwide, settled at $2.87 this week, which is up three cents over last week. However, like regular unleaded, diesel prices went up considerably more along the West Coast, particularly California, where prices were up eight cents per gallon.

Crude Oil Prices More Stable, At Least For The Moment

The current price rebound in gas and diesel can be attributed, at least in part, to the leveling of crude oil prices, which had been in a free-fall for several months. However, both West Texas Intermediate and Brent Crude have stabilized. WTI, a domestic futures benchmark, has been trading in a range between $48 and $54 per barrel for the past two weeks. Brent has been trading in a wider range, but traders have been bidding Brent higher, unlike WTI. What is more, Brent closed above $60 per barrel for two consecutive sessions this week before sliding just under that key threshold in Wednesday trading.

Year On Year Gas Prices Still Considerably Lower

Meanwhile, as much as gas prices have done an about face in recent weeks, the year-on-year numbers are still staggering in their consumer favoritism. The average driver is currently paying about $1.10 less for a gallon of gas than last year at this time, and some regions are enjoying prices that are about $1.25 less than a year ago, including New England and the Rocky Mountain region.

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Spike In Midwest Gas Prices Brings National Average Up

Price Hikes In Ohio Rival Winter’s Brutality

Gas price trends for week of February 2, 2015A 14¢ surge in the price of gasoline in Ohio, coupled with significant gas price increases across the Midwest, contributed to a substantial about face in average prices for the region. The spike in prices was so significant, it pushed the national average gas price upward for the first time since the September 1, 2014 pricing survey. The latest weekly survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded is now $2.07, nationwide, essentially reversing last week’s price gain. But the numbers do not tell the entire story.

Removing the Midwestern region from the pricing formula, U.S. average gas prices would have gone down over 6¢ to settle at an average of $1.98. Prices in nearly all other survey districts were down, and while the pricing declines have slowed in recent weeks as crude oil prices stabilize and even rally, most drivers are not feeling the seasonal pinch on their wallet like they did last year at this time.

Diesel Fuel Prices Continue Falling

Diesel fuel pumpMeanwhile, diesel fuel continued to fall at a fair pace, as the U.S. average price for a gallon of diesel dipped to $2.83, down about four cents on the week. The prices in the New England states increased by a penny, but prices in all other regions were down. The West Coast, in particular, enjoyed a price drop of nearly 6¢ per gallon, while prices across the Lower Atlantic were down over 4¢.

The gas pricing trend, sans the anomalous Midwestern averages, has continued to favor the consumer, despite the fact crude oil prices were no longer declining at their formerly precipitous rate. In fact, West Texas Intermediate has rallied, along with U.S. domestic crude and Brent, over the past three trading sessions. Tuesday’s rally was so significant, it brought U.S. domestic crude back over the $50 per barrel mark. WTI crossed that threshold on Monday.

Crude Oil Could Turn Lower, Despite Recent Rallies, Says Expert

However, at least one market watcher tells CNBC he forecasts additional lows for crude oil. Stephen Schork of The Schork Report told the financial news network that he believes the current rally is just a “dead cat bounce,” and that crude oil still has significant declines ahead of it.

He pointed out that global daily demand has fallen by 1.6-million barrels of oil each day, and without demand, prices can not recover. “The bottom line here is, we do not have enough demand, and the demand is going to be weak for the next two to three months, and we have too much supply,” he said.

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Gas Prices Continue To Fall, But Declines Are Slowing

Prices Rise In Midwest And Gulf Coast

Gas price trend for week of January 26, 2015The price of gasoline continued to fall during the past week, according to the latest survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The weekly E.I.A. fuel price survey shows the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded is now $2.04, down about three cents from last week. However, the more weighty price declines that have become weekly faire at retail gas stations is slowing. In fact, prices increased in two survey regions, the Midwest and the Gulf Coast.

For drivers across the nation’s midsection, fuel costs nudged upward about two cents per gallon, while prices were up about a penny per gallon along the Gulf Coast. That price increase offset large declines seen along the West Coast, where prices fell another seven cents per gallon during the past week. However, when you factor California into the West Coast, prices only went down about a nickel per gallon. Prices were down about five to six cents across New England and the Mid Atlantic States, and there were much larger declines seen along the Lower Atlantic States, where the average price for gas is now $2.17.

Diesel Continues To Decline, But At Slower Pace

Freeway SnowThe cost of diesel fell at a more robust pace, compared to its unleaded counterpart, although price declines for diesel have also begun to slow considerably. Prices dropped about seven cents over the past week, slipping to a $2.87 national average. The lowest costs were found across the Gulf Coast and Midwest, where prices were averaging $2.79 and $2.80, respectively. The cost of diesel in much of the New England and Central Atlantic regions remains above $3.00 per gallon, as do prices in California. The broader West Coast region is enjoying prices down at $2.76 per gallon.

Crude Oil Remains Depressed

The price of crude oil continues to remain depressed, both on foreign and domestic exchanges. West Texas Intermediate was trading down on the New York Mercantile Exchange again Tuesday morning, this after attempting to level off during the past week. Prices were down over two percent in early trading. WTI is the domestic crude benchmark.

Meanwhile, Brent Crude was trading down slightly in trading on the Intercontinental Europe Exchange, where futures contracts continue trading below $50.

The decline in both Brent and WTI has resulted from the glut of oil, both due to high production by Middle Eastern nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, and by the tar sands and shale boom in the United States and Canada. The decline in demand overseas, due to a slowing economy, has also contributed to the precipitous decline of crude oil prices.

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Gas Prices Keep Falling At Rate Of Penny Per Day

National Average Gas Price On Verge Of Going Below $2.00

Gas price trend for week of January 19, 2015The cost of a gallon of gasoline kept declining at the rate of a penny per day, on average, during the past week, according to the latest weekly survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The nation’s gas now averages just $2.07 for each gallon of regular unleaded, although prices in many areas are well below $2.00.

The cheapest prices are found along the Gulf Coast, where the average cost of gas is only $1.84, followed fairly closely by the Rocky Mountain survey region, where prices are $1.91 per gallon. The Midwest is averaging $1.92 per gallon. While the remainder of the survey regions have prices above the $2.00 threshold, even the most costly gas, found on the West Coast, is now only $2.38 per gallon.

Gas prices have continued to decline even as crude oil prices have finally leveled off, somewhat. The retail cost of fuels had been following the precipitous decline of crude since the middle of summer, when gas prices were in the high $3.00 ranges, and well over $4.00 in some parts of the country. Such prices seem almost nightmarish in the wake of the today’s cheap prices.

Diesel Slips Below $3.00 Per Gallon

Diesel fuel pumpMeanwhile, the price of diesel has slipped under $3.00. The national average for diesel is now just $2.93 per gallon, with some survey regions enjoying prices as low as $2.83, as in some parts of the West Coast, though not in California. The Gulf Coast region has the lowest overall price for diesel, where the prices are averaging about $2.84 per gallon.

Overall, the year-on-year price changes are substantial. For truckers, the cost of a gallon of diesel is about 94¢ less than this time last year. For commuters, the cost of a gallon of regular gas is now $1.23 less than at the start of 2014; however, the price decline since the middle of the summer is even greater.

During the past year, the nation’s average gas price, according to the E.I.A., topped off at $3.71, at the end of April, 2014, and again at $3.70, at the end of June. Those levels are $1.64 and $1.63 higher than the current price average of $2.07. Whether prices will continue falling, however, remains to be seen. The reason is that crude oil prices appear to have halted what had been a calamitous fall since the middle of summer.

Crude Prices Relatively Stable After Disastrous End To ’14

West Texas Intermediate, the domestic crude benchmark, has been hovering between $46 and $50 per barrel since about January 6; Brent, the overseas index, has also been more stable since the 6th of January, trading in a range between $48 and $52 per barrel. However, both indices are still trending slightly lower, albeit at a much slower pace than the latter half of 2014.

The likelihood of crude oil rebounding enough to halt the gas price decline remains uncertain, but at least one OPEC minister told an economic summit meeting in Davos, Switzerland he expected prices to normalize soon. Without providing a timeline, OPEC’s secretary-general, Abdullah al-Badri, said he believed crude prices would begin rising as investment firms scaled back their exposure in future production.

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Gas Prices Fall Further As Oil Futures Collapse

Gas Officially Below $2.00 in Midwest and Gulf Coast

Gas price trend for week of January 5, 2015The price of a gallon of gas is cheaper than at any time in the past six years, with the official U.S. gas price now down to a mere $2.21 per gallon, off almost nine cents from last week’s price, and down $1.50 since the end of June 2014. The current pricing is detailed in the weekly gas price survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The regional average gas prices in the Midwest and Gulf Coast states are now officially below $2.00 per gallon, with the Midwest enjoying gas averaging about $1.97 and the Gulf Coast drivers enjoying gasoline at $1.99.

The price of gas continues to follow the track of crude oil, which has collapsed under the weight of strong supply and weak overseas demand. West Texas Intermediate crude, WTI, fell below $50 on Monday, triggering a massive stock market selloff. WTI was trading just over $48 per barrel in early Tuesday trading, and the overseas crude, Brent, was trading just above $51. By comparison, both futures indices were trading well above $100 per barrel over the summer, with Brent pushing past the $110 boundary at one point.

Gas prices below $2.00 in the U.S.

Gas prices are below $2.00 in many states. Photos credits (from left): Shirlice Irick, Ben Irick, Eric Scallion.

However, domestic oil production in the U.S., combined with high output from OPEC member states, has resulted in a glut of oil at a time when the broader global economy is slowing. The result is high output and lower demand, translating into very low retail gas prices. However, there is consensus among Arab OPEC nations that crude will return to between $70 and $80 per barrel by the end of the 2015.

Anticipating A Crude Oil Rebound

Reuters quoted unnamed OPEC ministers last week, most of whom agree the current decline in prices will stabilize and “find new equilibrium” by the end of the year. The sources told Reuters the reason they expect a turnaround is that they do not foresee the global economy slipping into a new recession, but rather enduring a momentary period of slowdown before growing once more.

In the meantime, the travails of low crude oil prices will remain bad news for producers but good news for American drivers. One motorist in Texas told TurnpikeInfo.com he was able to fill up his small car for only $22, and that was using premium unleaded. For many drivers around the country, the cost of topping off the tank is about 40% lower than it was just six months ago.

Truckers Getting Big Break With Low Diesel Prices

That savings also translates to the hauling industry. Truckers have been enjoying slowly declining diesel prices for nearly a year, with the declines accelerating in recent weeks. As it stands, the average price of a gallon of diesel is now about $3.14, which is about 75¢ less than just a few short months ago. For a tractor-trailer with a 150-gallon tank, that translates into $113 in savings for every fill-up.

Region by region, the area with the highest diesel prices continues to be the New England and Central Atlantic states, where the cost is $3.29 and $3.30, respectively. California has the most expensive diesel at $3.34 per gallon.

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Gas Prices Settle Just Under $2.30 In Latest Weekly Survey

Year-end Gas Prices Down 30% From Start Of 2014

Gas price trends for week of December 29, 2014The average cost of a gallon of gas dipped another dime during the past week to settle at $2.30 per gallon, according to the latest weekly survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The cost of gas is now over a dollar less than it was when the year started, and some drivers are paying as much as $1.18 less for gas than they were when 2014 began. Region by region, the most expensive place to get gas remains the West Coast, where the average driver is paying about $2.62 per gallon, but even that price is 91¢ lower than at the beginning of the year.

The cost of diesel also dropped a fair amount during the past week, with the average trucker paying about 7¢ per gallon less than last week, and the average hauler paying about 69¢ less than a year ago. Overall, the U.S. average diesel price is now just $3.21 per gallon. Because of refinery and supply issues, the most expensive place to get diesel is currently the New England states, where the average price is $3.37 per gallon. California comes in a close second, with the average diesel price ticking in at $3.36 in the Golden State.

Crude Oil Hits Fresh Lows On The Year

Meanwhile, domestic crude oil prices hit a fresh low on the year Monday, closing at $53.76. West Texas Intermediate is well on track to have shed more than 20% of its contract price during December, although there remain two trading days in 2014. Brent Light Sweet Crude, the overseas benchmark, is also coming off lows for the year, having closed below $58 on Monday. At present, both futures indices were up in early Tuesday trading.

The crude contracts are a strong indicator of where gasoline prices are heading in the next several weeks. Crude prices are down nearly 50% for the year, and as the price of crude has fallen, particularly since the middle of the summer, retail prices have followed. The corollary has been very close, too. At its peak price in 2014, regular unleaded topped out at $3.71 in late April, and again at $3.70 in June. WTI hit its peak in June, as well, before beginning a slow decline that accelerated as the holidays began.

Domestic Oil Production Still Expanding, But Likely To Slow

The likelihood of crude continuing to fall is beginning to wane, however, as oil riggers in the United States have begun shutting drilling operations for the time being. Bloomberg news cited a report from Baker Hughes this morning that U.S. oil drillers idled more rigs last week than at any time since 2012, primarily because the cost of driller is not justified when prices fall below a specific floor.

U.S. oil refinery

U.S. oil production has contributed to a significant slide in crude oil futures, but some U.S. companies are temporarily idling rigs, which could slow production growth and potentially halt the decline in crude prices.

Moreover, Bloomberg News is reporting today it expects the U.S. crude supply to remain at 387.2 million barrels on the week, which the media group reports as the highest stockpile of crude since 1982. Reporters cited U.S. statistical data and their own surveys when publishing their data. Bloomberg also reported this morning that domestic oil production is at its highest levels since tracking began in 1983.

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