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The reason behind surging U.S. fuel prices

Diesel prices are among the trucking industry’s top concerns. After an upward climb of prices throughout October, the issue was ranked as a top 10 issue of the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) Top Industry Issues survey, as reported by Trucking Info.

“ATRI’s list is a true reflection of what it was like to be a trucker this year. High fuel prices and finding drivers were two of our industry’s biggest challenges — challenges made more difficult by the economy and the continued lack of truck parking,” American Trucking Associations chairman Harold A. Sumerford Jr. said.

While both fuel prices and the driver shortage made the top 10 list, rising fuel prices surpassed the driver shortage on the Top Industry Issues survey. The driver shortage has ranked as the top issue for five years, highlighting how concerned the trucking industry is with rising fuel prices.

“It’s just that fuel had been, in an acute way, catastrophic,” said Dan Murray, ATRI senior vice president.

June saw diesel prices hit an astounding $5.81 per gallon, a record price that, when looking at June 2020, more than doubled in only two years. This surge caused concerns to begin surfacing, and as prices have continually dropped then dramatically surged since, the concern has only grown in relevancy and intensity.

The trucking industry has begun looking for a reason behind the unpredictable fuel prices. The oil production in the United States is far below what it would take to fully meet internal demand. In 2019, the country exported a record number of oil barrels at 12.9 million. The Energy Information Administration’s most recently released data reflects that the United States is now exporting 11.8 million daily; some days over the last year have only seen 10.9 million barrels.

This, on top of foreign producers having influence on the price of fuel, begins to point toward an answer for rising fuel prices. Some oil producers have taken advantage of charging higher prices for oil in response to the ban on Russian oil. This ban came as a response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

As the United States handles the shortage that is being imposed on the entire globe, they’ve pulled from the U.S. emergency oil reserve. Now, even that is beginning to run low. With all this in mind, its no wonder fuel prices are rising to the forefront of the minds of those in the trucking industry.