UPDATE: The U.S. did not run out of diesel fuel on Monday, Nov. 21, as Fox News host Tucker Carlson previously claimed would happen. Since Carlson’s segment aired, the days’ worth of diesel supply in the U.S. has increased from 25.9 days for the week ending Oct. 21 to 26.6 for the week ending Nov. 11, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data show. But this doesn’t mean the U.S. will now run out diesel in roughly 26 days. The original story continues as published below:
Since the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020, Americans have seen shortages of everything from baby formula to prescription drugs such as Adderall.
Now, some people online are claiming that the latest product in short supply is diesel fuel and that the U.S. will run out of it before November ends.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed on Oct. 27 that “by the Monday of Thanksgiving week,” or in 25 days, “there will be no more diesel” in the U.S. A tweet that includes a video clip of the segment from “Tucker Carlson Tonight” has garnered more than 316,000 views.
Several VERIFY readers, including Robert, also asked the team if the U.S. will run out of diesel fuel in 25 days.
Is the U.S. going to run out of diesel fuel in 25 days?
- U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)
- Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy
- Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates, LLC
- Ed Hirs, University of Houston Energy Fellow
No, the U.S. isn’t going to run out of diesel fuel in 25 days.
WHAT WE FOUND
The number that Carlson and others are citing comes from U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data. For the week ending Oct. 21, EIA data show the U.S. has 25.9 days’ worth of supply of diesel fuel.
But oil experts tell VERIFY this number doesn’t mean the U.S. will run out of diesel fuel in under a month.
Instead, the metric measures the days’ worth of supply if U.S. refineries stopped producing oil and the industry stopped importing it from other countries. It’s calculated by taking U.S. inventory and dividing it by daily demand, Houston-based oil expert Andy Lipow explained.
“We will not run out of diesel in 25 days unless we simply stopped producing or importing and drew down inventory. I know of no government agency predicting the country will run out of diesel by Thanksgiving,” Lipow said.
Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, agrees. He said claims that the U.S. will run out of diesel fuel in 25 days are “completely inaccurate,” explaining that the number is “used as an industry benchmark to look at overall supply and demand balances.”
“What it does imply is that refiners have slowly, or over the last couple of months, kind of been losing the battle of supply and demand – that demand is eclipsing supply,” he added. “That is why that number has gently fallen.”
This isn’t the first time the days of supply figure has been close to 26 days over the past several years, either. In 2019, it hit an annual low of 26.5 days.
If oil refiners can outpace demand, the number will slowly rise. It has already increased slightly from 25.4 days of supply for the week ending Oct. 14 to the current supply of 25.9 days.
A handful of factors have contributed to current supply and demand issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic, shutdowns of some oil refineries throughout the nation, and sanctions on Russian oil resulting from the war in Ukraine, De Haan said.
As for concerns over a diesel fuel shortage, experts tell VERIFY the situation hasn’t risen to this level yet.
Ed Hirs, energy fellow at the University of Houston, said there are no reported shortages of either gasoline or diesel in the U.S.
However, diesel fuel supply is “very tight,” putting the system “under strain,” according to De Haan. That means people could pay higher prices at the pump and energy prices could climb.
“But it is not yet to the point where people are going to notice widespread disruptions [and] widespread outages, so I would disagree with qualifying it as a shortage,” De Haan said.
More from VERIFY: Yes, oil from U.S. reserves has been sent to countries overseas