RAC: UK heading for diesel fuel drought

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The RAC Foundation has warned that the UK is facing a potential ‘diesel drought’ because the country has too few refineries capable of producing the fuel, the Telegraph reported.

Demand for diesel fuel has grown by 76% over the past 20 years as more car users have shifted to the traditionally more economical option. The RAC Foundation is warning that by 2030, diesel will outsell petrol in service stations by four litres to one. With refineries shutting down and existing facilities not updated, the UK will become increasingly dependent on imports.

Steve Gooding, Director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Today, every other car bought is a diesel, but our refineries have struggled to keep pace with demand and have not attracted the investment they need to switch over from petrol production.”

According to the RAC Foundation, in 2009 there were nine major refineries in the UK but today there are six, with many of these up for sale. The potential shortfall in domestic diesel supplies is also due to some older refineries being configured to produce petrol rather than diesel, said the foundation.

Steve Gooding added: “Most of our refineries – some of which are more than half a century old – were built when diesel was a niche product. Retrofitting them is a billion-pound decision that has failed to stack up for investors who see refining as a low-margin business despite our sky-high pump prices.”

The report claims the number of diesel cars has risen dramatically, from 1.6m in 1994 to 11m in 2014. The number of heavy goods vehicles has also climbed: from 421,000 in 1994 to 474,000 in 2014, though this is below the pre-recession peak of 510,000 in 2007.