According to the International Energy Agency, oil demand growth is more likely to slow down rather than increase. Rising interest rates and energy costs, increasing oil supplies, and ample inventories could reduce the pressure on oil markets. Reducing the projection of Chinese oil demand growth will also slow the market. China's oil demand growth was significantly lower in the first two months of 2005, and fears of a surge in the second quarter are receding. Overall, crude oil prices have eased due to a build in stocks and comments from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on a possible production increase next month. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects markets to remain relatively tight through 2005, particularly for gasoline supplies.
A pattern of record prices for gasoline and diesel began on March 8 of this year in Nebraska and had continued on a daily basis, going back and forth and back again from city to city and subsequently the state average, until this pattern was finally broken on Thursday. Some prices were close to record highs but none of the metros or the state beat records set only a day before. It's a nice break before the driving season begins.
Gasoline prices rose throughout the country with the West Coast having the first regional price in history to top the $2.50-per-gallon mark at $2.528. Nebraska's retail gasoline price increased 2 cents from last week to $2.28 with metro prices ranging from $2.21 in Grand Island to $2.34 in Lincoln. The price range between city averages widened this week when Lincoln's weekly average was 6 cents higher than last week and North Platte's average was a nickel lower. This week's state average was 52 cents higher than the price at this time last year. As of April 8, the Midwest gasoline stock level was in the normal range with 51.2 million barrels.
Prices were also up throughout the country for diesel fuel. In Nebraska, the state average retail diesel price increased 2 cents from last week to $2.35 per gallon with Nebraska's metro prices ranging from $2.31 in Columbus and North Platte to $2.38 in Lincoln. According to the weekly price report, this week's state average is 66 cents higher than the price at this time last year. The Midwest distillate fuel inventory level continued at the lower boundary of the normal range as of April 8.
An archive of this report and historical weekly prices are available.