US won’t run out of diesel in weeks, experts say

CLAIM: The United States is on the verge of running out of diesel fuel.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. While data from the Energy Information Administration shows that the U.S. has about a 25-day supply of diesel, the country will not actually run out of fuel soon, experts confirmed to The Associated Press. This figure doesn’t account for ongoing diesel production.

THE FACTS: As of Oct. 28, the most recent data available, the U.S. had 25.8 days’ worth of diesel in its stores — a lower supply than in previous weeks, according to the EIA. That figure, paired with still-high fuel prices domestically and a looming energy crisis in Europe, has some social media users suggesting that in less than a month, no diesel fuel will be available.

“Diesel is going to run out in weeks,” reads text in a TikTok video posted Sunday, as a large truck spewing exhaust from its hood drives past the camera. That clip had been viewed more than 125,000 times as of Monday.

“US sending another $400 million to Ukraine... By the way, we are about out of diesel fuel,” read a tweet posted Friday, receiving more than 4,000 shares.

But this is a misunderstanding of the EIA data, according to agency spokesperson Jeff Barron. He explained that it accounts for current consumption without factoring in the oil that’s imported or produced by refineries, which refill supply.

University of Houston energy lecturer Ed Hirs likened this statistic to a grocery store that carries a week of milk, saying that supply is always being replenished.

“When the inventory was in 35 days last year we didn’t run out of diesel. In 25 days we’re not running out of diesel,” he told the AP.

The U.S. could run out of diesel if there were no more diesel production, “but of course more diesel is produced every day,” said Carey King, an energy researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, in an email.

Patrick De Haan, a fuel analyst for the fuel price-tracker GasBuddy, said the 25-day figure isn’t a day-by-day countdown to zero; it changes only fractions of a percentage point each week.

“It’s gotten to uncomfortable territory, but as recently as 2019, that number did drop to 26.0 days, so basically just fractions from where it is now,” he said. “But again, that does not mean we’re going to run out.”

The supply is “low by historical standards,” Barron said, but it typically averages only around 30 days or so.

De Haan attributed that crunch to several factors: seasonal maintenance, the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S.’ competition with Europe for energy, as Western countries wean themselves off of Russian gas amid the war in Ukraine.

Purporting to show proof of the coming supply chain collapse, some Twitter users have been reposting a photo of a highway sign in Pennsylvania warning of “no diesel” at the Allentown Plaza fuel station. The Pennsylvania Turnpike’s official Twitter account flagged an outage at the station Saturday afternoon, attributing it to a “computer issue,” not a shortage. Diesel service had been restored by that night, the account tweeted.

De Haan said some regions, like the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, could be “extremely tight,” but that outages in individual stations aren’t indicative of broader shortages.

“A lot of the time, they’re not legitimately running out or if they do, it’s for a very brief period of time, 12 to 18 hours,” he said.


This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.