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What, how much, comes from a barrel of crude oil?

Q. What kinds of petroleum products – and how much of each – are derived
from a 42 gallon barrel of crude oil refined in the United States?


A. The “yield” of an average barrel of crude oil refined in the United States varies from year to year and depends on:
- Demand for specific products;
- Type and quality of available crude oil, such as high-sulfur or low-sulfur oil and its relative weight, viscosity (“thickness”) and chemical composition; and 
- Capability of a refining facility to separate the various components present in the crude oil.

Most refineries can vary somewhat the yield (the proportions of the products refined from the barrel of crude oil). These proportions are adjusted to meet consumer demand.  For example, in the late fall refiners increase the proportion of distillate (which includes home-heating oil) produced from a 
barrel of crude oil to meet winter demand.  In the spring, refiners reduce the distillate yield and increase the gasoline yield in preparation for the summer driving season. In this way, refiners can substantially increase the output of the products that are in demand, while maintaining relatively stable operating levels and without necessarily production of other petroleum products.  

The quality of the crude oil being refined also affects the proportions of the products, as does the available quantity of a particular crude oil.  In recent years, the United States has been relying, to a large extent, on oil having a higher sulfur content and lower quality than some other types of crude oil.  
These high-sulfer, lower quality oils frequently require additional processing and produce less of the more volatile parts of the crude oil – such as gasoline and distillates.  Overall, however, the average product yield has not changed substantially during the past several years, as indicated by the following table:


Product
1982
1983
1984
1985
1986
Gasoline [1]
46.4%
47.6%
46.7%
45.8%
45.9%
Jet Fuel [2]
8.1
8.5
9.1
9.6
9.8
Liquefied Gasses
2.2
2.7
2.9
3.1
3.2
Kerosine
0.9
0.9
0.9
0.8
0.7
Distillate Fuel Oil
21.5
20.5
21.5
21.6
21.2
Residual Fuel Oil
8.8
7.1
7.1
7.1
6.7
Petrochemical Feedstocks
3.4
3.3
2.8
2.8
3.1
Special Naphthas
0.4
0.5
0.4
0.4
0.4
Lubricants
1.2
1.2
1.3
1.2
1.2
Waxes
0.1
0.1
0.1
0.1
0.1
Coke
3.4
3.5
3.5
3.7
3.8
Asphalt (including road oil)
2.7
3.1
3.1
3.2
3.1
Still Gas [3]
4.6
4.6
4.5
4.7
4.9
Miscellaneous
0.7
0.5
0.5
0.5
0.5
Shortage (processing grain) [4]
-4.4
-4.1
-4.4
-4.6
-4.6
Total
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%
100.0%

[1] Gasoline includes both motor and aviation gasoline.

[2] Jet fuel includes both naphtha-type and kerosene-type fuel.

[3] Still gas (refinery gas) is that gas produced in refineries during the refining and cracking processes.

[4] Shortage (processing gain) represents the amount by which total refinery output is greater than the total input for a given period. The difference is due to the processing of crude oil into products which, in total, have a greater volume than the crude oil from which those products were made.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum Supply Annual, for appropriate years.