What is a refinery?
Petroleum refineries convert crude oil and other liquids into many petroleum products that people use every day. Most refineries focus on producing transportation fuels. On average, U.S. refineries produce, from a 42-gallon barrel of crude oil:
- About 19 to 20 gallons of motor gasoline
- 11 to 13 gallons of distillate fuel, most of which is sold as diesel fuel
- 3 to 4 gallons of jet fuel
More than a dozen other petroleum products are also produced in refineries, including liquids the petrochemical industry uses to make a variety of chemicals and plastics. The amount (volume) of individual products produced varies from month to month and year to year as refineries adjust production to meet market demand and to maximize profitability.
A refinery runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and requires a large number of employees. A refinery can occupy as much land as several hundred football fields.
A photo of the Pascagoula Refinery in Mississippi
Source: Stock photography (copyrighted)
Last updated: June 12, 2023, with data from the Petroleum Supply Monthly, March 2023; data for 2022 are preliminary.