Frequently Asked Questions

Why are diesel fuel prices higher than gasoline prices?

On-highway diesel fuel prices have been higher than regular grade gasoline prices almost continuously since September 2004. This trend is a break from the historical pattern of diesel fuel prices usually being lower than gasoline prices except in cold winters when demand for heating oil pushed diesel fuel prices higher. The main reasons why diesel fuel prices have been higher than regular gasoline prices in recent years are:

  • Demand for diesel fuel and other distillate fuel oils have been relatively high, especially in Europe, China, India, and the United States.
  • The transition to less polluting, lower-sulfur diesel fuels in the United States affected diesel fuel production and distribution costs.
  • The federal excise tax for on-highway diesel fuel of 24.4 cents/gallon is 6 cents per gallon higher than the gasoline tax.

Learn more:

Today in Energy:  Retail prices: diesel outpaces gasoline

Today in Energy:  2011 Brief: U.S. average gasoline and diesel prices over $3 per gallon throughout 2011

This Week In Petroleum discusses petroleum markets. The May 20th, 2009 and March 26th, 2008 editions discuss this FAQ topic in more detail.

Diesel Prices and Outlook

For EIA's latest diesel fuel price forecast, see EIA's Short-Term Energy Outlook

Last updated: January 20, 2015


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