Definitions, Sources and Explanatory Notes

 Category:   Petroleum Imports/Exports & Movements
 Topic:   Exports


Key Terms Definition
Asphalt A dark-brown-to-black cement-like material containing bitumens as the predominant constituent obtained by petroleum processing; used primarily for road construction. It includes crude asphalt as well as the following finished products: cements, fluxes, the asphalt content of emulsions (exclusive of water), and petroleum distillates blended with asphalt to make cutback asphalts. Note: The conversion factor for asphalt is 5.5 barrels per short ton.
Barrel A unit of volume equal to 42 U.S. gallons.
Biomass-Based Diesel Fuel Biodiesel and other renewable diesel fuel or diesel fuel blending components derived from biomass, but excluding renewable diesel fuel coprocessed with petroleum feedstocks.
Butane (C4H10) A normally gaseous straight-chain or branch-chain hydrocarbon extracted from natural gas or refinery gas streams. It includes isobutane and normal butane and is designated in ASTM Specification D1835 and Gas Processors Association Specifications for commercial butane.
Butylene (C4H8) An olefinic hydrocarbon recovered from refinery processes.
Crude Oil A mixture of hydrocarbons that exists in liquid phase in natural underground reservoirs and remains liquid at atmospheric pressure after passing through surface separating facilities. Depending upon the characteristics of the crude stream, it may also include:
  • Small amounts of hydrocarbons that exist in gaseous phase in natural underground reservoirs but are liquid at atmospheric pressure after being recovered from oil well (casinghead) gas in lease separators and are subsequently commingled with the crude stream without being separately measured. Lease condensate recovered as a liquid from natural gas wells in lease or field separation facilities and later mixed into the crude stream is also included;
  • Small amounts of nonhydrocarbons produced with the oil, such as sulfur and various metals;
  • Drip gases, and liquid hydrocarbons produced from tar sands, oil sands, gilsonite, and oil shale.

  • Liquids produced at natural gas processing plants are excluded. Crude oil is refined to produce a wide array of petroleum products, including heating oils; gasoline, diesel and jet fuels; lubricants; asphalt; ethane, propane, and butane; and many other products used for their energy or chemical content.
    Distillate Fuel Oil A general classification for one of the petroleum fractions produced in conventional distillation operations. It includes diesel fuels and fuel oils. Products known as No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 diesel fuel are used in on-highway diesel engines, such as those in trucks and automobiles, as well as off-highway engines, such as those in railroad locomotives and agricultural machinery. Products known as No. 1, No. 2, and No. 4 fuel oils are used primarily for space heating and electric power generation.
    Ethane (C2H6) A normally gaseous straight-chain hydrocarbon. It is a colorless paraffinic gas that boils at a temperature of -127.48º F. It is extracted from natural gas and refinery gas streams.
    Ethylene (C2H4) An olefinic hydrocarbon recovered from refinery processes or petrochemical processes.
    Exports Shipments of crude oil and petroleum products from the 50 States and the District of Columbia to foreign countries, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and other U.S. possessions and territories.
    Finished Motor Gasoline A complex mixture of relatively volatile hydrocarbons with or without small quantities of additives, blended to form a fuel suitable for use in spark-ignition engines. Motor gasoline, as defined in ASTM Specification D 4814 or Federal Specification VV-G-1690C, is characterized as having a boiling range of 122 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit at the 10 percent recovery point to 365 to 374 degrees Fahrenheit at the 90 percent recovery point. Motor Gasoline includes conventional gasoline; all types of oxygenated gasoline, including gasohol; and reformulated gasoline, but excludes aviation gasoline. Note: Volumetric data on blending components, such as oxygenates, are not counted in data on finished motor gasoline until the blending components are blended into the gasoline.
    Fuel Ethanol An anhydrous denatured aliphatic alcohol intended for gasoline blending as described in Oxygenates definition.
    Hydrocarbon An organic chemical compound of hydrogen and carbon in the gaseous, liquid, or solid phase. The molecular structure of hydrocarbon compounds varies from the simplest (methane, a constituent of natural gas) to the very heavy and very complex.
    Hydrogen The lightest of all gases, occurring chiefly in combination with oxygen in water; exists also in acids, bases, alcohols, petroleum, and other hydrocarbons.
    Isobutane (C4H10) A normally gaseous branch-chain hydrocarbon. It is a colorless paraffinic gas that boils at a temperature of 10.9º F. It is extracted from natural gas or refinery gas streams.
    Isobutylene (C4H8) An olefinic hydrocarbon recovered from refinery processes or petrochemical processes.
    Kerosene A light petroleum distillate that is used in space heaters, cook stoves, and water heaters and is suitable for use as a light source when burned in wick-fed lamps. Kerosene has a maximum distillation temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit at the 10-percent recovery point, a final boiling point of 572 degrees Fahrenheit, and a minimum flash point of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Included are No. 1-K and No. 2-K, the two grades recognized by ASTM Specification D 3699 as well as all other grades of kerosene called range or stove oil, which have properties similar to those of No. 1 fuel oil. See Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel.
    Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel A kerosene-based product having a maximum distillation temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit at the 10-percent recovery point and a final maximum boiling point of 572 degrees Fahrenheit and meeting ASTM Specification D 1655 and Military Specifications MIL-T-5624P and MIL-T-83133D (Grades JP-5 and JP-8). It is used for commercial and military turbojet and turboprop aircraft engines.
    Liquefied Petroleum Gases (LPG) A group of hydrocarbon-based gases derived from crude oil refining or nautral gas fractionation. They include: ethane, ethylene, propane, propylene, normal butane, butylene, isobutane, and isobutylene. For convenience of transportation, these gases are liquefied through pressurization.
    Lubricants Substances used to reduce friction between bearing surfaces or as process materials either incorporated into other materials used as processing aids in the manufacture of other products, or used as carriers of other materials. Petroleum lubricants may be produced either from distillates or residues. Lubricants include all grades of lubricating oils from spindle oil to cylinder oil and those used in greases.
    Miscellaneous Products Includes all finished products not classified elsewhere (e.g., petrolatum, lube refining byproducts (aromatic extracts and tars), absorption oils, ram-jet fuel, petroleum rocket fuels, synthetic natural gas feedstocks, and specialty oils).
    Motor Gasoline Blending Components Naphthas (e.g., straight-run gasoline, alkylate, reformate, benzene, toluene, xylene) used for blending or compounding into finished motor gasoline. These components include reformulated gasoline blendstock for oxygenate blending (RBOB) but exclude oxygenates (alcohols, ethers), butane, and pentanes plus. Note: Oxygenates are reported as individual components and are included in the total for other hydrocarbons, hydrogens, and oxygenates.
    Naphtha-Type Jet Fuel A fuel in the heavy naphtha boiling range having an average gravity of 52.8 degrees API, 20 to 90 percent distillation temperatures of 290 degrees to 470 degrees Fahrenheit, and meeting Military Specification MIL-T-5624L (Grade JP-4). It is used primarily for military turbojet and turboprop aircraft engines because it has a lower freeze point than other aviation fuels and meets engine requirements at high altitudes and speeds.
    Natural Gas Liquids Those hydrocarbons in natural gas that are separated from the gas as liquids through the process of absorption, condensation, adsorption, or other methods in gas processing or cycling plants. Generally such liquids consist of propane and heavier hydrocarbons and are commonly referred to as lease condensate, natural gasoline, and liquefied petroleum gases. Natural gas liquids include natural gas plant liquids (primarily ethane, propane, butane, and isobutane; see Natural Gas Plant Liquids) and lease condensate (primarily pentanes produced from natural gas at lease separators and field facilities; see Lease Condensate).
    Natural Gas Plant Liquids Those hydrocarbons in natural gas that are separated as liquids at natural gas processing plants, fractionating and cycling plants, and, in some instances, field facilities. Lease condensate is excluded. Products obtained include ethane; liquefied petroleum gases (propane, butanes, propane-butane mixtures, ethane-propane mixtures); isopentane; and other small quantities of finished products, such as motor gasoline, special naphthas, jet fuel, kerosene, and distillate fuel oil.
    Normal Butane (C4H10) A normally gaseous straight chain hydrocarbon that is a colorless paraffinic gas which boils at a temperature of 31.1 degrees Fahrenheit.
    Other Hydrocarbons Materials received by a refinery and consumed as a raw material. Includes hydrogen, coal tar derivatives, gilsonite, and natural gas received by the refinery for reforming into hydrogen. Natural gas to be used as fuel is excluded.
    Oxygenates Substances which, when added to gasoline, increase the amount of oxygen in that gasoline blend. Ethanol, Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE), Ethyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (ETBE), and methanol are common oxygenates.
  • Fuel Ethanol: Blends of up to 10 percent by volume anhydrous ethanol (200 proof) (commonly referred to as the "gasohol waiver").
  • Methanol: Blends of methanol and gasoline-grade tertiary butyl alcohol (GTBA) such that the total oxygen content does not exceed 3.5 percent by weight and the ratio of methanol to GTBA is less than or equal to 1. It is also specified that this blended fuel must meet ASTM volatility specifications (commonly referred to as the "ARCO" waiver).
    Blends of up to 5.0 percent by volume methanol with a minimum of 2.5 percent by volume cosolvent alcohols having a carbon number of 4 or less (i.e., ethanol, propanol, butanol, and/or GTBA). The total oxygen must not exceed 3.7 percent by weight, and the blend must meet ASTM volatility specifications as well as phase separation and alcohol purity specifications (commonly referred to as the "DuPont" waiver).
  • MTBE (Methyl tertiary butyl ether): Blends up to 15.0 percent by volume MTBE which must meet the ASTM D4814 specifications. Blenders must take precautions that the blends are not used as base gasolines for other oxygenated blends (commonly referred to as the "Sun" waiver).
  • Other Oxygenates Includes ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE), tertiary amyl methyl ether (TAME), tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA), and other aliphatic alcohols and ethers intended for motor gasoline blending (e.g., isopropyl ether (IPE) or n-propanol).
    Pentanes Plus A mixture of hydrocarbons, mostly pentanes and heavier, extracted from natural gas. Includes isopentane, natural gasoline, and plant condensate.
    Petroleum Administration for Defense (PAD) Districts Geographic aggregations of the 50 States and the District of Columbia into five districts by the Petroleum Administration for Defense in 1950. These districts were originally defined during World War II for purposes of administering oil allocation. Description and maps of PAD Districts and Refining Districts.
    Petroleum Coke A residue high in carbon content and low in hydrogen that is the final product of thermal decomposition in the condensation process in cracking. This product is reported as marketable coke or catalyst coke. The conversion is 5 barrels (of 42 U.S. gallons each) per short ton. Coke from petroleum has a heating value of 6.024 million Btu per barrel.
    Propane (C3H8) A normally gaseous straight-chain hydrocarbon. It is a colorless paraffinic gas that boils at a temperature of -43.67o F. It is extracted from natural gas or refinery gas streams. It includes all products designated in ASTM Specification D1835 and Gas Processors Association Specifications for commercial propane and HD-5 propane.
    Propylene (C3H6) An olefinic hydrocarbon recovered from refinery processes or petrochemical processes.
    Renewable Diesel Fuel (Other) Diesel fuel and diesel fuel blending components produced from renewable sources that are coprocessed with petroleum feedstocks and meet requirements of advanced biofuels.
    Renewable Fuels (Other) Fuels and fuel blending components, except biomass-based diesel fuel, renewable diesel fuel, and fuel ethanol, produced from renewable biomass.
    Residual Fuel Oil A general classification for the heavier oils, known as No. 5 and No. 6 fuel oils, that remain after the distillate fuel oils and lighter hydrocarbons are distilled away in refinery operations. It conforms to ASTM Specifications D396 and D975 and Federal Specification VV-F-815C. No. 5, a residual fuel oil of medium viscosity, is also known as Navy Special and is defined in Military Specification MIL-F-859E, including Amendment 2 (NATO Symbol F-770). It is used in steam-powered vessels in government service and inshore powerplants. No. 6 fuel oil includes Bunker C fuel oil and is used for the production of electric power, space heating, vessel bunkering, and various industrial purposes.
    Road Oil Any heavy petroleum oil, including residual asphaltic oil used as a dust pallative and surface treatment on roads and highways. It is generally produced in six grades from 0, the most liquid, to 5, the most viscous.
    Special Naphthas All finished products within the naphtha boiling range that are used as paint thinners, cleaners, or solvents. These products are refined to a specified flash point. Special naphthas include all commercial hexane and cleaning solvents conforming to ASTM Specification D1836 and D484, respectively. Naphthas to be blended or marketed as motor gasoline or aviation gasoline, or that are to be used as petrochemical and synthetic natural gas (SNG) feedstocks are excluded.
    Sulfur A yellowish nonmetallic element, sometimes known as "brimstone." It is present at various levels of concentration in many fossil fuels.
    Wax A solid or semi-solid material at 77 degrees Fahrenheit consisting of a mixture of hydrocarbons obtained or derived from petroleum fractions, or through a Fischer-Tropsch type process, in which the straight-chained paraffin series predominates. This includes all marketable wax, whether crude or refined, with a congealing point (ASTM D 938) between 80 (or 85) and 240 degrees Fahrenheit and a maximum oil content (ASTM D 3235) of 50 weight percent.

    For definitions of related energy terms, refer to the EIA Energy Glossary.


  • Energy Information Administration, Form EIA-810, "Monthly Refinery Report".
  • U.S. Bureau of the Census.
  • EIA Forms & Instructions .
  • Background, Survey Methodology and Statistical Details .

  •   Explanatory Notes

  • On December 18, 2015, the U.S. enacted legislation authorizing the export of U.S. crude oil without a license. Exports to embargoed or sanctioned countries continue to require authorization. Prior to December 2015, crude oil exports were restricted to: (1) crude oil derived from fields under the State waters of Cook Inlet of Alaska; (2) Alaskan North Slope crude oil; (3) certain domestically produced crude oil destined for Canada; (4) shipments to U.S. territories; and (5) California crude oil to Pacific Rim countries.
  • Totals may not equal sum of components due to independent rounding.