Diesel fuel shortage means you'll be spending more

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Monday, October 31, 2022
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Be prepared to spend even more on consumer goods because of a diesel fuel shortage in the southeastern United States.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Be prepared to spend even more on consumer goods because of a diesel fuel shortage in the southeastern United States.

The shortage is caused in large part by routine refinery maintenance this time of year and refineries competing with households using more energy to heat their homes.

North Carolina State University professor Michael Walden said both refineries and energy companies use the same molecular makeup that creates further competition for a valuable ingredient.

"Demand for that goes up in the winter," said Walden, "and so that sort of...competes with diesel fuel."

The impact can be felt by consumers across the country because the big-rig trucking industry heavily relies on diesel to fuel its trucks. The increase in diesel price, which is currently at $5.30 per gallon, is passed on to consumers so companies can remain profitable.

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Long Island, New York, resident Steven Kelly has been a truck driver for more than 30 years and said his employer needs to make money just as much as anyone else. He spends close to $1,200 on fuel each time he fills up. Before the shortage, he would routinely spend closer to $1,000.

"When I run the coast, I fuel six times. Three on the way out and three on the way back. That's $6,000 just on fuel," said Kelly. "That's not just paying the driver. That cost's gotta go somewhere. And that's people shopping the stores and so on."

Across the board, his company had to implement a new approach.

"We used to have $1,000 to get fuel every 24-hour period. And they had to move that up to $1,500," he said.

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Walden said he believes that by this time next year, things will get better, but the diesel shortage will last through the winter.

"I think the biggest mistake consumers and households make. ... they don't have enough information really to know where their money is going," he said. "Most people don't use diesel fuel. But it is big in the transportation industry ... and for more of the things that we buy. So we're going to feel if it's going to be another one of these facts that we feel most people won't know where it's coming from."

Walden suggested creating a budget and sticking to it in an effort to get prices to go down. That includes curtailing a lot of unnecessary spending.

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"Unfortunately, that really is the answer," said Walden.

Virginia-based truck driver Tony Leftwich would also like some answers.

"With how the industry is going right now, it's ridiculous," Leftwich said. "It's like, what do you do? Do you continue putting less fuel in? What do you do? There's nothing you can do."