Diesel rationing could be possible in the coming months, as prices soar amid an ongoing fuel shortage. Diesel prices hit a record $5.56 per gallon in the United States, which is up 76.5% from a year ago.
Consumers in the U.S. are “demanding” more diesel than anyone can supply. So what is available is going to be costly. According to a report by Business Insider, supplies have been dwindling. Nationwide, inventories for the most commonly used diesel have dropped 43% since 2020 to the lowest since 2014. In the Central Atlantic region, inventories have crashed 78% from 2020 to the lowest in a decade. Other categories of diesel are seeing steeper drops.
Due to the shortage, the talk of rationing has surfaced.
Because the situation is so dire in New York, refinery and fuel magnate John Catsimatidis told Bloomberg, “I wouldn’t be surprised to see diesel being rationed on the East Coast this summer.”
“The markets are telling us there’s a shortage,” Jim Mitchell, Refinitiv’s head of Americas oil analysts, told Business Insider. “This is a tailwind for inflation. We’re demanding more diesel than anyone can supply.”
Adding to the problem is a conversion to “clean” or “green” energy. Certain diesel-making regions such as those in California, have been working to convert refineries into biodiesel hubs, which is “fantastic for the future but poses a problem for right now,” according to Mitchell.
Of course, higher diesel prices and rationing do not only affect the cost at the pump. Since diesel is the fuel used to get food planted, harvested, and delivered, we could be looking a massive food price increases and even more food shortages. “We’re looking at at least two years of higher food prices via farming, and limited refining capacities in the world and the US,” Mitchell said. “And we’re still demanding more diesel than anyone can supply.”
Everything that can impact the food supply has been. It’s important to be aware of this and make preparations for it. A summer with low or rationed diesel fuel could mean expensive food and shortages in the fall.