According to the Energy Information Administration�s "Short-Term Energy Outlook", released March 8, oil markets will remain tight due to expected growth in demand. As a result, oil prices are projected to stay above $45 per barrel through 2006. With high oil prices and refineries running near their capacity, gasoline prices have increased. During the summer driving season (April to September), the increased demand is expected to keep gasoline prices high despite adequate inventories. The Energy Information Administration is projecting a national average of $2.10 at the pump, which is a 20-cent i ncrease over last year's gasoline prices.
Many gasoline price and diesel price records were set in the state this week. In most instances, if a new record was not set, the price was closing in on the record high.
Nebraska's retail gasoline price jumped 8 cents from last week to $2.04 with metro prices ranging from $2.03 in Omaha to $2.11 in North Platte. Weekly averages for Columbus, North Platte, Lincoln, and Omaha gasoline were a dime higher than last week. This week's state average was 34 cents higher than the price at this time last year. Although the entire nation experienced price increases, the Midwest saw the largest regional increase of 9 cents reaching $2.01 while the West Coast had the highest regional price at $2.17 per gallon. As of March 4, the Midwest gasoline stock level had leaped above the upper boundary of the normal range to 56.9 million barrels. With the exception of the Rocky Mountain Region, stock levels across the country are above the normal range.
The state average retail diesel price increased 6 cents from last week to $2.18 per gallon with Nebraska's metro prices ranging from $2.09 in Columbus to $2.20 in Kearney. According to the weekly price report, this week's average is 54 cents higher than the price at this time last year. The Midwest distillate fuel inventory level continued to skirt along the lower edge of the normal range as of March 4.
An archive of this report and historical weekly prices are available.