Diesel drops nine cents, but could rise again

The average price at the pump for a gallon of diesel fuel in the U.S. dropped nine cents to $1.662, according to the Dept. of Energy. According to the department's Energy Information Administration, the price fell for a second consecutive week, and matches the average price at the pump recorded February 10. Gasoline dropped four cents to $1.69 a gallon, the department said. Crude oil prices have fallen sharply since the attack on Iraq began as markets speculated it would end swiftly in a victory for the United States and Britain, and the government said that savings is being passed on to consumers. However, the U.S. crude price jumped $1.75 a barrel, or 6.5%, on Monday as the market feared the war with Iraq could be longer than previously expected, which means the drop in fuel prices could be short-lived. Also, tribal warfare in Nigeria since March 12 has forced petroleum producers Chevron-Texaco, Royal Dutch Shell, and French-owned TotalFinalElf to shut down their operations, reducing Nigeria's exports by over 767,500 barrels a day, more than one-third of the country's exports. Oil analyst Ed Morse of HETCO warned that "anything can happen" in Nigeria between now and April 19, when presidential elections are scheduled. Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service, said that alarms about the Nigerian supply come as global supply strategists buckle down for weeks that may see crude oil prices swing by $5 bbl or more, with products approaching the 10-20cts gal shifts that were commonplace in the last ten days.

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