The US East Coast, which normally has around 62 million barrels of diesel stored during the month of May, has reported under 52 million barrels according to data from the US Department of Energy. This bit of news has some trucking companies worried, according to a report from FreightWaves which looked at the data from the DOE.
Since the start of 2022, the American trucking industry has seen a sharp increase in diesel prices, which has caused a bit of stress for the $800 billion industry. The price of diesel has reached a record high of $5.62 per gallon. On the East Coast, it’s reached $5.90, which is up 63% from January 2022.
OPIS’ global head of energy analysis, Tom Kloza, elaborated on the difficulty and financial risk of bringing diesel to the Northeast, which is being hit the hardest by the shortage.
“I wish I had some good news for the Northeast, but it’s bedlam.”
Most of the diesel that makes it to the Northeast comes from the Gulf region via the Colonial Pipeline, a 5,500-mile pipeline that was shut down by a ransomware attack for over one week last year. Kloza pointed out that it takes 18 days for oil to travel through the pipeline from Houston to Linden, NJ.
Other contributing factors to the problem include the East Coast having lost over half of its refineries, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the crisis in Ukraine.
What I didn’t really see the article mention were possible solutions that could help the trucking industry as well as the Northeast. One critical solution is switching from diesel vehicles to electric vehicles.
Although buses and vans are not the focal points here, switching diesel buses (transit, school, and even charter) would be very helpful and is easier than transitioning long-haul, heavy-duty trucks. Electric vehicles are becoming more and more mainstream, and although Tesla is well known in the industry, what isn’t talked about enough are the fleets nationwide that are making the switch to EVs.
Electric vehicles are less costly to own and maintain than diesel or gasoline vehicles. Electric vans, for example, are 25% cheaper to own than their diesel versions.
The article focuses on the panic and worries of running out of diesel, and although that is a worry, this shows that the transportation industry is in dire need of electrification. It’s getting there, but more positive attention on this would be helpful.