Refineries are producing excessive amounts of gasoline in a bid to cope with strong demand for diesel, Reuters’ John Kemp wrote in a recent column. As a result, gasoline prices have been on the decline while diesel prices are climbing, widening the gap between the two fuels and spurring demand for alternatives to costly diesel, which should be welcome news for the environmentally conscious.
While this state of affairs is likely temporary, with seasonally lower demand for gasoline also weighing on prices, it might become lengthier than the usual seasonal discrepancies between gasoline and diesel demand, and hence prices, at least in the Untied States, where the consistent growth in crude oil production, most of it light crude, has pushed gasoline output and stockpiles higher.
On the other hand, high diesel prices mean good news for the proponents of alternative energy. Most of diesel demand comes from industries such as mining, logistics, and shipping, and following the universal rule that if a commodity becomes too expensive, you start looking for alternatives, chances are these industries would make more of an effort to go in a different direction such as electric vehicles. All the more so in light of the new International Maritime Organization’s upcoming rule change in emissions that would give a major spur to diesel demand.
Besides electric vehicles, however, the biggest users of diesel fuel will also take other steps to curb consumption. Kemp lists the most popular of these, including load consolidation and journey frequency adjustments and generally betting on fuel efficiency over speed of delivery. In this, at least in Europe, they will be helped by new, higher taxes on diesel fuel. These, by the way, have unleashed massive protests in France, highlighting the importance of the fuel that climate-conscious activists and government leaders so love to hate.