Though it is well below last year's average price at the pump, a gallon of diesel rose slightly each of the last two weeks of the year 2001, according to the Dept. of Energy. The department's Energy Information Administration said the average rose from $1.143 on December 17 to $1.154 on December 24 to $1.169 on Monday.

Despite the minimal rise nationwide, the price actually dropped in New England – from $1.301 to $1.289 – and stayed flat at $1.124 in the Rocky Mountain region. The December 17 rise broke a string of 13 weeks in which the price had dropped.

However, analysts say the recent announcement by OPEC to cut production in an effort to stabilize market prices should not cause diesel or gasoline prices to skyrocket.

"Our view is the market expected the announcement," said Martin Meyers, a consultant with Cambridge Energy Resource Associates in Massachusetts told Reuters. "There's not been much change in crude oil prices over the course of the week and we expect that the type of prices that we're seeing is something we can expect as we head toward the summer driving season."

Retail gasoline prices were also down to end 2001. American Automobile Assn said the national average for regular gasoline at the pump was less than $1.09 per gallon on Friday, down more than 35 cents a gallon compared to the previous year. The price was under $1 in several states, including New Jersey, South Carolina and Georgia.