Trucking industry faces rising diesel prices, experts say potential shortage on the horizon
POCOMOKE CITY, Md. – For 81 years, Rantz Trucking Company has called Pocomoke City home.
Owner Kenneth Rantz tells us, even with that many years in business he never thought fuel would become the industry’s biggest expense. “We try to give our drivers a fair wage and the fuel prices keep going up every week,” Rantz said. “Usually the drivers will fill a truck up at about a quarter of a tank and it will cost about $800 or $900.”
According to AAA, the average cost of diesel fuel in Maryland is now almost $6. The Maryland Motor Truck Association says many factors contribute to the increase, with supply and demand topping the list. “Certainly we have reduced refining capacity here in the United States. Particularly on the East Coast, we only have 7 refineries now which is 50% of what it was just 15 years ago,” President/CEO of Maryland Motor Truck Association Louis Campion said.
It’s something that could lead to a diesel fuel shortage. “I have seen some memos from companies that are telling drivers to fill up every night no matter what. Whether they need it or not,” Campion said. “That actually exacerbates the challenges associated with a shortage.”
That shortage could also limit the amount of fuel some truckers can get. “One of my trucking colleagues was only allowed to purchase 100 gallons over near Richmond, VA last week. Another in North Carolina said he was only allowed to purchase 100 gallons as well,” Rantz said. Rantz adds that he’s not aware of any fuel limits on the shore as on now.
For some relief, fuel surcharges allow drivers to recover up to 70% percent of fuel costs. Yet, even that comes with a price tag. “In some cases we’ve seen seen diesel go up a $1 per gallon in the last couple of weeks. You’re still basing that fuel surcharge on last weeks prices but your paying fuel at today’s pricing,” Campion said.
Despite this, those who I spoke with say no matter the price at the pump they’re determined to keep delivering. “I drove a truck through the fuel embargo in the late 70s. So Rantz Trucking will get through this,” Rantz said.
Rantz tells 47abc that on top of the fuel price increase, the industry has also seen price jumps in trucking equipment like tires. He adds that insurance has also went up by 25%.
On the bright side, experts say wages are up for those looking to go into trucking.