PhotoFor years, no matter how expensive gasoline got, you could be sure diesel fuel cost more. Usually a lot more.

While drivers of diesel powered vehicles got great fuel economy, they paid a lot more per gallon. Lately, these drivers have enjoyed the same savings as their gasoline-driving counterparts.

The national average price of self-serve regular gasoline is $2.05 a gallon, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey. The national average price of diesel fuel is $2.09 a gallon.

Just a year ago, gasoline averaged $2.39 while a gallon of diesel fuel went for $2.79.

Refinery issues

One reasons for the narrowing gap between the gas and diesel pumps is gasoline prices have been rising in recent weeks, due to seasonal refinery maintenance and the switch over to summer blend gasoline.

Gas prices are up 16 cents a gallon nationwide in the last month. The average diesel price has risen just six cents a gallon. While diesel production is affected by refinery maintenance, just as gasoline is, there is no summer blend to raise the cost.

In some good news for motorists, the national average price of gasoline leveled off in the last week and is about the same price it was seven days ago. However, there remains some price volatility in local areas.

Down in Missouri, up in Ohio

For example, the AAA survey shows the average gasoline price dropped six cents a gallon in Missouri over the past week. The price is up four cents a gallon in Ohio during the same period.

According to AAA's calculations, the national average gasoline price has been above $2 a gallon for 20 straight days, with prices at the pump expected to continue to show some volatility as the supply of summer-grade gas is distributed.

On the plus side, refineries have stepped up their capacity, resulting in an increase in gasoline inventories. If not exported, that excess supply may continue to dampen gasoline prices.

The ExxonMobil Torrance, Calif. refinery has restarted, alleviating chronic supply shortages on the West Coast. Barring any major disruptions or shortages in supply, AAA said it expects pump prices to be fairly steady in the coming weeks.  

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