Demand for diesel outweighing supply in the UK


The UK’s demand for diesel is far outweighing supply and use has risen by 76% over the past twenty years

45% of home demand for diesel is met by foreign suppliers as the UK struggles to deal with the increasing requirement for diesel. The shortfall is thought to be from the fact that the number of refineries has been in decline, from 9 in 2009 to six today. Also, most of the refineries are set to produce petrol, and retrofitting them to produce diesel is costly. Most refineries were built more than half a century ago when diesel was still a niche product so it wouldn’t have made logical sense to configure them so that they produced diesel.

The Demand for Diesel 

The number of diesel vehicles has sky-rocketed in the past twenty years, from 1.6 million in 1994 to 11 million in 2014, and diesel is predicted to be four times more popular than petrol by 2030. Looking at the SMMT’s data for the total number of vehicles sold in the UK in August 2015, 38,645 vehicles were diesel compared to 38,497 petrol vehicles sold.

Perhaps what is most surprising is that despite the constraints slapped on diesel vehicles to curb their usage, sales remain relatively steady and diesel fuel is expected to be four times more popular than petrol by 2030. According to the London Assembly environment committee, diesel vehicles account for 40% of the city’s air pollution, and more recently the London Assembly has called for the Mayor to consider banning all diesel vehicles from the capital in a move to reduce pollution. Public Health England has added that air pollution is the second highest cause of death in the city, after smoking. Islington Council has introduced higher parking permit prices for diesel car owners compared to those who own petrol cars and from 2020 diesel vehicles will have to pay an additional £10 to enter the congestion zone.  

We’ll be interested to see whether the demand for diesel will continue to outweigh supply in the UK, and how government measures put in place to persuade motorists to use “cleaner” vehicles will affect sales.  


Image c/o Stuart Caie

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