U.S. retail diesel prices rose 5.4 cents last week . Retail prices for diesel rose to $3.85 per gallon. For diesel it was the fifth consecutive week of increased totaling 20.2 cents according to the Department of Energy. As was the case with diesel fuel, gasoline has risen five straight weeks. Last week’s increase was the largest since March 7, 2011. Part of the increase in prices, especially gasoline, can be attributed to a pipeline leak in Wisconsin.
Benchmark oil rose 34 cents to $95.94 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. It has gained three percent this week on positive economic data and a drop in U.S. oil supplies. It’s up 23 percent since late June.
Word that the Obama administration is considering a release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to stem the rising cost of crude appeared to have more impact on Brent crude, which is used to price international varieties of oil. Brent fell $1.28 to $113.99 in London. Before Friday, Brent had climbed more than $13 per barrel this month on concerns about production outages in the North Sea. It’s also influenced more by developments in the Middle East.
A senior administration official, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly, told The Associated Press Friday the U.S. is monitoring gas prices to see whether they fall before making a decision to tap strategic reserves.
Gas prices in the U.S. have risen an average of 39 cents since early July, because of an increase in oil prices and refinery and pipeline problems in some regions.
The U.S. released oil from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve last summer with only limited success. Oil prices dropped nearly 5 percent when the government announced the release of 30 million barrels from the SPR on July 23. Prices rebounded over the next eight days. Oil ended the year higher than it started.