(March 23) As U.S. gasoline prices have reached a record high, diesel fuel prices continue their climb.

According to the Energy Information Administration, the national average price for diesel reached $1.641 per gallon on March 22, up more than 2 cents from the week before.

California continued to have the highest price, coming in at $1.854 per gallon, though that was down 2 cents from the previous week.

Meanwhile oil prices climbed as high as $38 a barrel, and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries expressed some hesitation about going through with planned cuts in production.

OPEC nations agreed Feb. 10 to cut excess production of crude oil immediately and to lower output quotas by 1 million barrels per day on April 1. OPEC said the combined moves will cut its production by about 10%, or 2.5 million barrels per day.

OPEC is scheduled to meet March 31 in Vienna to discuss those cuts.

But several of its members, including Qatar and Venezuela, have expressed hesitation about how much they are willing to cut.

Reuter’s news service reported that a senior OPEC official said the cartel is considering delaying cuts in production until June.

That, combined with ongoing political turmoil in Venezuela, has driven prices of crude oil to their highest levels since mid-March 2003, just before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

But high demand from Asia has kept OPEC from making any further production cuts thus far and has many experts speculating that some nations won’t go through with the planned cuts in April.

The New York Times reported that sales of diesel fuel in India, which accounts for 40% of petroleum consumption in that country, rose 10% in February from the same month in 2003. Oil imports in India are expected to grow along with the country’s economy.

The National Bureau of Asian Research, Seattle, reported that oil demand for all of Asia is expected to increase to 38 million barrels per day by 2025. Current demand is 21 million barrels per day.

Indonesia, meanwhile, is accusing OPEC of overproducing and said the group must maintain its commitment to cutting production in April if it is to keep its credibility.