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US diesel prices fall slightly as nation deals with outage rumors, supply challenges

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US diesel prices fall slightly as nation deals with outage rumors, supply challenges
The average price for a gallon of diesel fuel across the United States fell on Nov. 14 to $5.313, down from $5.333 on Nov. 7, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The price is more than $1.50 higher than this time last year, EIA statistics show.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The average price for a gallon of diesel fuel across the United States fell on Nov. 14 to $5.313, down from $5.333 on Nov. 7, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The price is more than $1.50 higher than this time last year, EIA statistics show.

Prices are highest in New England and California, where, on average, a gallon costs $6.060 and $6.180, respectively.

The lowest prices are along the Gulf Coast at $4.886 per gallon on average.

Meanwhile, energy officials in the U.S. are still battling the online rumor mill about possible mass outages across the nation.

While current data from the EIA shows that the U.S. has about a 26-day supply of diesel, the country will not actually run out of fuel soon, energy experts continue to stress.

This figure doesn’t account for ongoing diesel production.

The U.S. had 25.8 days’ worth in its stores in late October — a lower supply than in previous weeks, according to the EIA. That figure, paired with still-high fuel prices domestically and a looming energy crisis in Europe, has some social media users suggesting that in less than a month, no diesel fuel will be available.

Patrick De Haan, a fuel analyst for the fuel price-tracker GasBuddy, said some regions, such as the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, could be “extremely tight,” but that outages in individual stations aren’t indicative of broader shortages.

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Diesel inventories are particularly low on the east coast, with the Northeast experiencing the highest diesel prices, according to Georgia-based major fuel supply and logistics company Mansfield Energy. The Southeast is reporting the worst supply outages.

And some truck stops, including major chains, have reported that they are temporarily out of fuel.

“A lot of the time … it’s for a very brief period of time, 12 to 18 hours,” De Haan said.

Still, rumors of mass shortages of diesel continue to fly online.

“Diesel is going to run out in weeks,” reads text in a TikTok video posted recently, as a large truck spewing exhaust from its hood drives past the camera.

“US sending another $400 million to Ukraine… By the way, we are about out of diesel fuel,” read a tweet posted Nov.4, receiving more than 4,000 shares.

But this is a misunderstanding of the EIA data, according to agency spokesperson Jeff Barron. He explained that it accounts for current consumption without factoring in the oil that’s imported or produced by refineries, which refill supply.

University of Houston energy lecturer Ed Hirs likened this statistic to a grocery store that carries a week of milk, saying that supply is always being replenished.

“When the inventory was in 35 days last year we didn’t run out of diesel. In 25 days, we’re not running out of diesel,” he said.

The U.S. could run out of diesel if there were no more diesel production, “but of course more diesel is produced every day,” said Carey King, an energy researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, in an email.

De Haan said the 25-day figure isn’t a day-by-day countdown to zero; it changes only fractions of a percentage point each week.

“It’s gotten to uncomfortable territory, but as recently as 2019, that number did drop to 26.0 days, so basically just fractions from where it is now,” he said. “But again, that does not mean we’re going to run out.”

The supply is “low by historical standards,” Barron said, but it typically averages only around 30 days or so.

De Haan attributed that crunch to several factors: seasonal maintenance, the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S.’ competition with Europe for energy, as Western countries wean themselves off of Russian gas amid the war in Ukraine.

Purporting to show proof of the coming supply chain collapse, some Twitter users have been reposting a photo of a highway sign in Pennsylvania warning of “no diesel” at the Allentown Plaza fuel station. The Pennsylvania Turnpike’s official Twitter account flagged an outage at the station Saturday afternoon, attributing it to a “computer issue,” not a shortage. Diesel service had been restored by that night, the account tweeted.

The Trucker Staff contributed to this report.

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The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting. Founded in 1846, AP today remains the most trusted source of fast, accurate, unbiased news in all formats and the essential provider of the technology and services vital to the news business. The Trucker Media Group is subscriber of The Associated Press has been granted the license to use this content on TheTrucker.com and The Trucker newspaper in accordance with its Content License Agreement with The Associated Press.
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