Tracing its name from its German inventor, Rudolf Diesel, diesel fuel is what is used in the compression ignition engines of motor vehicles. It is important to a countrys economy, quality of life, and national security. Any fluctuation of its price will have an effect on how people live because of its direct and indirect relationship with the other consumer products. There are different factors that determine diesel fuel prices but first we have to have an understanding of how it is produced and used.
Diesel Fuel Quality and the Environment
From crude oil, there are a lot of products that can be produced. These are gasoline, diesel, other distillates (heating oil), heavy fuel oil (residual), jet fuel, liquefied petroleum gases (LPG), and other products. There are different grades or types of petroleum diesel. The Number 2 type is the main source for motor diesel fuel utilized in the United States. It is the same type used for heating buildings and in the industry.
It has relatively low sulfur content, which is an important characteristic tested for diesel fuels. In 2006, the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for diesel fuel sulfur content were implemented. Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) fuel which has a sulfur content of less than 15 parts per million (ppm) had to be sold in the United States, which in turn replaced most of the Low Sulfur Diesel (LSD) fuel.
Diesel engines can be found in nearly all semi-trucks, delivery vehicles, buses, trains, ships, boats and barges, as well as farm, construction and military vehicles and vehicles. Because of this widespread use, people have always been thinking of ways to manufacture products that are safe for the environment. Biodiesel falls under this category and is produced from vegetable oils, animal fats, or recycled restaurant grease. Its name denotes that it is biodegradable and can lessen vehicle emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and particulates.
Diesel Fuel Production and Delivery
In the United States, most diesel fuel that is consumed is produced in their local refineries. Additionally, a small percentage of fuel is mainly imported from Canada and the Virgin Islands. From both local and imported crude oil, diesel fuel is manufactured by the local refineries and it is transported by pipeline from these refineries and ports to the terminals in close proximity to the main consuming areas. Then it is put in tanker trucks for delivery to retail service stations.
Diesel Fuel Cost Components
Inclusive in the cost to manufacture and transport diesel fuel to the consumers are the costs of crude oil, refinery processing, marketing and distribution, and retail station operation. The costs and profits of the refiners, marketers, distributors, and retail station owners are reflected in the retail pump price. The comparative share of these cost components to the retail price varies over time and among the countrys regions.
The price at the pump also is inclusive of federal, state, and local taxes. In other states, counties, and city governments levy additional taxes. Local market conditions and other factors such as the location and the marketing strategy of the owner are reflected in the retail price as well.
The components of diesel fuel prices can be broken down into the following (from highest to lowest percentage): crude oil, refining, taxes, and distribution and marketing. Knowing this information will give the consumers a clearer picture why the prices are pegged at such and why they fluctuate.