CCJ Daily Dispatch, July 21: Fuel prices flatten following big drop-off in early 2020

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Updated Jul 22, 2020

Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, July 21, 2020:

Fuel prices level off after dramatic drop-off to open year
Diesel fuel prices across the U.S. have leveled off after a dramatic drop-off over the first five months of the year, according to the Department of Energy’s weekly numbers.

The national average price for a gallon of on-highway diesel fell nearly 70 cents from early January to late May, mostly due to a decrease in demand with the COVID-19 pandemic and an oil price battle between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Since early June, prices have stayed mostly flat, climbing just over 5 cents in the six-week span.

During the most recent week ending July 20, the national average price fell by a half-cent to bring the average price for a gallon of on-highway diesel to $2.433, which is up from the 2020 low of $2.386 that was seen during the week ending June 1.

Prices increased in all regions during the most recent week except in the West Coast less California region, which saw a three-tenths of a cent increase. The largest decrease was seen in New England, where fuel prices fell by 2.4 cents.

The nation’s most expensive fuel can be found in California at $3.248 per gallon, followed by the Central Atlantic region at $2.699 per gallon.

The cheapest diesel is in the Gulf Coast region at $2.198 per gallon, followed by the Midwest region at $2.309 per gallon.

Prices in other regions, according to DOE, are:

  • New England – $2.626 per gallon
  • Lower Atlantic – $2.377 per gallon
  • Rocky Mountain – $2.343 per gallon
  • West Coast less California – $2.597 per gallon

Pipeline contractors petition FMCSA for hours waiver
The Pipe Line Contractors Association (PLCA) is petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a waiver from three hours of service provisions for drivers of various commercial vehicles employed by the group’s member contractors.

The group asks that its members be exempt from the requirement of the short-haul exemption that drivers return to the work reporting location from which they started the day; the requirement that drivers use electronic logs if they must complete a record of duty status on more than eight days in any 30-day period; and the prohibition on driving after having been on duty for 70 hours in eight consecutive days.

PLCA also requested that drivers of trucks used exclusively in the construction and servicing of pipelines be allowed the same hours waivers currently available to oilfield operations.

The group says it is requesting the waivers because pipeline construction companies typically hire workers on a project-by-project basis, and that these workers are skilled tradesmen with driving being ancillary to their primary roles as construction workers. PLCA says the drivers rarely, if ever, utilize their full 11 hours of available daily driving time, and usually only drive on public roads at the start and end of each work day.

FMCSA is requesting public comment on PLCA’s request, which can be made when the petition is posted in the Federal Register on Wednesday, July 22. Comments can be made at by searching Docket No. FMCSA-2020-0157.