What is Clean Diesel?

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Energy Security

Clean diesel fuel is America's #1 petroleum product export by far. Learn more about how clean diesel fuel is important to energy abundance and energy security.

There has been quite a lot of mention of America’s newfound energy abundance these days. While most attention has been focused on newly found supplies of natural gas, a lot more is coming out of the ground than just natural gas including record amounts of crude oil. America’s fuel producers are turning much of this product into ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD). This fuel is integral to power America’s fleet of trucks and commercial vehicles, a growing fleet of diesel passenger vehicles along with agricultural, construction and mining equipment, locomotives, marine workboats and ferries and emergency backup generators. Growing supplies of U.S. ULSD is also flowing overseas helping the U.S. treasury earn significant export revenues.

Newfound oil and gas reserves has helped the U.S. achieve energy abundance. The U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) recently announced that proven petroleum reserves in the U.S. exceeded 36 billion barrels for the first time since 1975. While much attention has been focused on natural gas reserves, the U.S. is now a net exporter of petroleum products for the first time since 1949 thanks to these recent discoveries of petroleum reserves.  Ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD) with 15 part per million (ppm) or less sulfur content is the largest single petroleum product exported in 2013.   

 Top 5 U.S. Petroleum Product Exports (2014)
Finished Oil and Gas ProductBarrelsShare of Total Finished
Product Exports
ULSD, 0 to 15 ppm Sulfur 324,000,000 23.2%
Petroleum Coke 195,794,000 14.0%
Liquefied Petroleum Gases 194,858,000 13.9%
Finished Motor Gasoline 161,294,000 11.5%
Propane and Propylene 154,371,000 11.0%

SOURCE: U.S. Energy Information Agency. Total Crude Oil and Product Exports by Destination

In 2014, U.S. refiners exported 324 million barrels of clean diesel fuel abroad representing just over 23 percent of all finished oil and gas exports. Worldwide demand for U.S. clean diesel fuel earns significant export revenue. International experts predict that diesel is on course to remain the number one global transportation fuel. The International Energy Agency recently stated that diesel is expected to overtake gasoline as the top transportation fuel used in passenger vehicles and in the freight transportation sector. One of the largest global oil producers, ExxonMobil, recently confirmed diesel’s expected dominance while also stating the much of the anticipated growth in diesel will come from emerging economies.

Refineries along the Gulf Coast are responsible for exporting over 86 percent of U.S. ULSD while refineries in the East and West Coasts make up the remainder.

Much of these exports are ultimately destined for our European allies and rapidly expanding economies in South and Central America.

 Top 5 Markets for U.S. ULSD Exports (2014)
MarketBarrels Exported
Mexico 44,320,000
The Netherlands 37,162,000
Chile 33,788,000
France 32,225,000
Columbia 30,158,000

SOURCE: U.S. Energy Information Agency.
Total Crude Oil and Product Exports by Destination

Clean diesel fuel has been an important element in helping the U.S. achieve current and future clean air and climate goals. Diesel powers over 95 percent of America’s heavy-duty truck fleet. Commercial vehicles deployed with diesel engines that meet the most recent emissions standards have reduced carbon emission by nine million tons and saved 21 million barrels of crude oil between 2010 and 2014. Over the next four years, as new trucks must meet the first ever fuel economy rules, these vehicles are expected to reduce carbon emissions by another 270 tons and save another 530 million barrels of crude oil.

Demand for clean diesel fuel will only increase around the world as other countries’ economies grow, driving demand for powerful modern diesel engines that will also improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions across the globe.


Policy Overview

Hot Issues

President Obama’s All of the Above Energy Strategy

Quoted May 2014

“The initial decline in the level of consumption is due in part to the recession, but much of the lower projection for the coming decades reflects unforeseen efficiency improvements stemming from the 2012 light-duty vehicle fuel economy standards, along with some projected switching to diesel in the light-duty fleet.”

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What is Clean Diesel?

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