(April 13) As summer approaches and, along with it, increased demand for oil, the price of diesel continues to climb closer to its record level.

For the week of April 11, the average national retail price of diesel fuel rose 3.1 cents to $1.679 per gallon, its eighth increase in nine weeks, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

That price is 9.2 cents below the record set on March 17, 2003, on the eve of the war with Iraq. Though it is not quite near that record, it is still 14 cents higher than the same week a year ago.

Highest prices were in California, where diesel costs rose 14 cents from the week before to $2.162 per gallon. That’s up a whopping 50 cents from the same week a year ago.

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency said global fuel consumption will only increase going into the summer months.

The agency said demand was expected to be 1.7 million barrels a day higher this year than it was last year. Total demand is expected to reach 80.3 million barrels per day.

In spite of all of this, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries remains firm on its decision to cut production by 1 million barrels per day. The decision was made at the group’s meeting in Vienna on March 31.

OPEC ministers, fearing a drop in demand in the April-June fiscal quarter, said the production cuts were necessary to prevent a price collapse.

On April 12, U.S. Treasury secretary John Snow said in a radio interview that the actions of OPEC at this time are “most unwelcome.”

“We’ve let OPEC know that we don’t think well of these actions,” he said. “This situation is a serious one.”