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Diesel fuel explained Where our diesel comes from

Most of the diesel fuel consumed in the United States is produced in U.S. oil refineries

U.S. oil/petroleum refineries produce most of the diesel fuel consumed in the United States. In 2018, imports of ultra-low sulfur distillate (ULSD) fuel oil, which is distillate fuel with a sulfur content of 15 parts per million or less, were equivalent to about 4% of total ULSD consumption in the United States. About 54% of ULSD imports in 2018 were from Canada. ULSD is sold as diesel fuel and heating oil in the United States.

A diagram showing the flow of crude oil, gasoline, and diesel fuel from supply sources to retail fueling stations.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (public domain)

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Diesel Fuel Tanker Truck

Diesel fuel tanker truck

Source: Stock photography (copyrighted)

How does diesel fuel get to a refueling station?

Most diesel fuel moves by pipeline from refineries and ports to terminals near major consuming areas. Barges and trains also move diesel fuel to terminals. Trucks transport the diesel fuel from the terminals to retail service stations and to large volume consumers such as vehicle fleet operators.

Diesel fuel and other products are sent through shared pipelines in batches. These batches are not physically separated in pipelines, and some mixing or commingling of products may occur. Because mixing is possible, the quality of the diesel fuel and other products must be tested to make sure they meet required specifications as they enter and leave pipelines. When products fail to meet local, state, or federal specifications, they are either removed and transported back to a refinery for further processing or are sold as different products.

Last updated: June 12, 2019