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Gasoline explained Where our gasoline comes from

From refinery to consumer

U.S. petroleum refineries make gasoline and other petroleum products from crude oil and other liquids produced in the United States or imported from other countries. Nearly all of the gasoline sold in the United States is produced in the United States.

Most gasoline moves from refineries through pipelines to large storage terminals near consuming areas. From the storage terminals, gasoline is usually sent by truck to smaller blending terminals for processing into finished motor gasoline, which is then delivered by truck to gasoline fueling stations.

Gasoline is sent through shared pipelines where commingling occurs

Gasoline and other petroleum products are sent through shared pipelines in batches. These batches are not physically separated in pipelines, and some mixing, or commingling, of products occurs. Because this mixing occurs, the gasoline and other products must be tested as they leave pipelines to see if they still meet required specifications. If the products fail to meet local, state, or federal specifications, they are sent back to a refinery for additional processing.

A graphic illustration showing the flow of imported crude oil from the tanker to the gas station.

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Can customers find out which country or state the gasoline at a location station comes from?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) cannot identify the specific origin of gasoline sold at fueling stations. The gasoline a company sells in its branded fueling stations is not necessarily produced by that company.

Gasoline brands get mixed during shipment

Gasoline is sold at more than 100,000 retail outlets across the nation, and many are unbranded dealers that may sell gasoline produced by different companies. Branded stations may not necessarily sell gasoline produced by the companies that own the stations. Gasoline from different refineries is often combined for shipment through pipelines, and different companies that own service stations in the same area may purchase gasoline at the same bulk storage and distribution terminal.

The only difference between gasoline at one company's fueling stations and gasoline sold by another company is the small amount of additives that some companies blend into the gasoline after it leaves the pipeline and before it gets to their fueling stations.

Crude oil also gets mixed at the refinery

Even if EIA could determine the origin of the gasoline sold at fueling stations, the source of the crude oil and other liquids used at refineries may vary. Most refiners use a mix of crude oils from various domestic and foreign sources. The mix of crude oils can change based on the relative cost and availability of crude oil from those sources.

Last updated: November 8, 2018