Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Diesel prices reaching for heights

Commerce in California may be benefitting for reductions in Workers' Comp costs, but the diesel fuel needed for goods movement keeps getting more expensive.

California's average diesel price approached $3 per gallon Monday, the latest unwelcome record in a sudden cost surge triggered by growing demand and a refinery fire.

The state's average stood at $2.94 per gallon, after soaring 28 cents in the last week, according to the Energy Department.

Meanwhile, some cities -- including San Francisco -- hit $3 Monday, according to the AAA of Northern California auto club.

The prices are more than just a reflection of the sky-high cost of crude oil, which closed at a record $63.94 Monday. A fire at Chevron Corp.'s El Segundo (Los Angeles County) refinery three weeks ago squeezed diesel supplies at a time when truckers and farmers are using more of the vital fuel than before.

Diesel powers almost every major industry in the state. The trucks and trains that haul imported computers, cars and clothes from California's massive ports burn it. So do the tractors used on farms that grow the state's food.