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Oil: crude and petroleum products explained Refining crude oil

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 12 gallons of distillate fuel, most of which is sold as diesel fuel, and 4 gallons of jet fuel. More than a dozen other petroleum products are also produced in refineries. Petroleum refineries produce liquids the petrochemical industry uses to make a variety of chemicals and plastics.

Refineries operate 24/7

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.

graphic illustration of a barrel to show the major products that are produced from refining a barrel of crude oil

Click to enlarge

A night photo of the Pascagoula Refinery, Mississippi

A photo of the Pascagoula Refinery in Mississippi

Source: Stock photography (copyrighted)

Last updated: May 23, 2019