(Oct. 6) Diesel prices and crude oil prices set records during the week of Oct. 3

According to the Department of Energy, the national average price for diesel fuel rose nearly 5 cents to $2.053 per gallon on Oct. 4, up from $2.012 per gallon the previous week.

The West Coast saw the biggest increase, with prices jumping up nearly 7 cents to $2.238 per gallon, from $2.169 the week before. California had the highest prices at $2.290 per gallon, up more than 5 cents from $2.236 the previous week.

Meanwhile, the cost of U.S. light crude oil futures hit an all-time high on Oct. 5, rising to $50.73 per barrel. What’s more, industry experts say there may be no relief in sight for the next few months.

Instability in Iraq and West Africa, combined with growing demand from China and India, have caused prices to continue to rise in recent weeks, and analysts say it could go higher if there is more trouble in Iraq or Saudi Arabia.

Nigeria is also a concern, as talks between rebels and the government cause production problems in the Niger Delta, which produces more than 2 million barrels per day.

In addition, Hurricane Ivan has caused a loss of more than 13 million barrels of oil since it forced companies to shut down oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico on Sept. 13. According to the Associated Press, the region is still about 28% below normal production capacity.

But not everyone sees gloom and doom in the future. Purnomo Yusgiantoro, president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, told Reuters news service that prices could drop down below $40 per barrel by 2005.

“The demand in the first quarter is still strong,” he said. “However, I expect prices will come down if we eliminate non-fundamental factors, such as the situation in the Middle East, especially in Iraq.”