Tavio Headley, economist with the American Trucking Association. Photo: Brian Haraway / Getty Images

If one industry expert is on the mark, the fuel costs that have been battering fleet budgets will drop, providing some much-needed relief in the coming months.

Tavio Headley, economist with the American Trucking Association (ATA), joined a number of fleet and concrete-industry figures at THE CONCRETE PRODUCER Economic Summit in January, during World of Concrete 2007 in Las Vegas. He says that diesel prices have fallen to $2.43 a gallon, to a 59-week low. This includes a drop of 19 cents in the six weeks prior to the January 23 event. However, the price still far exceeds the 10-year average of $1.59 per gallon.

According to Headley, diesel prices have fallen because of a sharp drop in crude oil prices, and the mild winter in most of the United States has prompted refiners to manufacture more diesel fuel since heating oil supplies are high.

On the legislative front, Headley says the ATAis working to create a single diesel fuel standard. Currently, the need for “boutique” fuels in various areas of the nation exacerbates local shortages. The association also is seeking an increase in investments in refinery capacity.

Presented by THE CONCRETE PRODUCER magazine and sponsored by Allen-Villere Partners, the two-hour Economic Summit was the first event of its kind at World of Concrete. Pierre Villere, president of Allen-Villere Partners, moderated the discussion.