U.S. not facing diesel shortage, but prices are high

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 6:32 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Gas prices are still high, and the price of diesel is even higher. But beyond that, some in the media have raised concerns that as winter draws near, the country could face a shortage of diesel fuel.

Groceries and electronics. What do these things, and just about everything else you might be able to think of, have in common? Wherever you buy them, they probably got there on a diesel truck.

“When you’re talking about the transportation supply chain, you’re talking about diesel at every turn,” said Senator Kevin Cramer, R-ND.

The Energy Information Administration has drawn concerns as we head into winter and the holiday shopping season with recent data indicating the U.S. has just 25.9 days worth of diesel fuel. But energy analysts say it’s less of a problem than it sounds.

“Many Americans have probably heard this metric, that diesel, there’s 25 days left of supply. But, that’s an inherently tricky number. For those that are not analysts, they have no context, that there have been media pundits that have suggested we’ll run out by Thanksgiving. That’s grossly inaccurate,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.

Rather, the data measures how much diesel the country would have if all refineries halted operations.

“As we all know, refineries are operating, so what that means is that 25 days is a number that will move extremely slowly,” said De Haan.

Still, even though low diesel levels aren’t dire, diesel prices will remain high into winter, which might be a real issue for many Americans.

“Heating fuel, which is basically diesel, and it’s certainly priced with diesel, is in high demand. So, now you’re talking about affecting the lives of American people,” said Senator Kevin Cramer.

And if diesel fuel prices are high, then the prices for the products that travel by diesel will remain high as well.

The average price of diesel fuel in North Dakota is $5.34, down from a record high of $5.62 in June.