Frequently Asked Questions

Why has diesel fuel been more expensive than gasoline?

On-highway diesel fuel prices have been higher than regular gasoline prices almost continuously since September 2004, 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 gasoline prices in recent years are:

  • High worldwide demand for diesel fuel and other distillate fuel oils, especially in Europe, China, India, and the United States, and a tight global refining capacity available to meet demand during the period of high economic growth from 2002 to mid-2008.
  • 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 the gasoline tax.

Learn more:

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

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

Diesel Prices and Outlook

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

Last updated: January 15, 2014


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