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Oil and petroleum products explained Use of oil

Crude oil and other liquids produced from fossil fuels are refined into petroleum products that people use for many different purposes. Biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, are also used as petroleum products, mainly in mixtures with gasoline and diesel fuel.

Petroleum is the largest U.S. energy source. We use petroleum products to propel vehicles, to heat buildings, and to produce electricity. In the industrial sector, the petrochemical industry uses petroleum as a raw material (a feedstock) to make products such as plastics, polyurethane, solvents, and hundreds of other intermediate and end-user goods.

In 2018, U.S. petroleum consumption averaged about 20.50 million barrels per day (b/d), which included about 1.2 million b/d of biofuels.

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The transportation sector accounts for the largest share of U.S. petroleum consumption.

  • U.S. petroleum consumption by sector and share of total in 2018
  • transportation 14.16 million barrels per day 69%
  • industrial 5.13 million barrels per day 25%
  • residential 0.56 million barrels per day 3%
  • commercial 0.48 million barrels per day 2%
  • electric power 0.11 million barrels per day 1%

What are the petroleum products people consume most?

Gasoline is the most consumed petroleum product in the United States. In 2018, consumption of finished motor gasoline averaged about 9.33 million b/d (392 million gallons per day), which was equal to about 45% of total U.S. petroleum consumption.

Distillate fuel oil is the second most-consumed petroleum product in the United States. Distillate fuel oil includes diesel fuel and heating oil. Diesel fuel is used in the diesel engines of heavy construction equipment, trucks, buses, tractors, boats, trains, some automobiles, and electricity generators. Heating oil, also called fuel oil, is used in boilers and furnaces for heating homes and buildings, for industrial heating, and for producing electricity in power plants. Total distillate fuel oil consumption in 2018 averaged about 4.15 million b/d, which was equal to 20% of total U.S. petroleum consumption.

Hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGL), the third most-used category of petroleum in the United States, include propane, ethane, butane, and other hydrocarbon gas liquids that are produced at natural gas processing plants and oil refineries. HGL consumption in 2018 averaged about 3.01 million b/d. The petrochemical industry uses HGL as feedstock for making many products.

Propane, a heavily consumed HGL, is also used in homes for space heating and water heating, for clothes drying, for cooking, for heating greenhouses and livestock housing, for drying crops, and as a transportation fuel.

Jet fuel is the fourth most-used petroleum product in the United States. Jet fuel consumption averaged about 1.71 million b/d in 2018.

Petroleum products consumed in 2018
Product Annual consumption (million barrels per day)
Finished motor gasoline1 9.329
Distillate fuel oil (diesel fuel and heating oil)1 4.146
Hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGL) 3.007
Kerosene-type jet fuel 1.707
Still gas 0.703
Petrochemical feedstocks 0.346
Petroleum coke 0.327
Asphalt and road oil 0.327
Residual fuel oil 0.318
Lubricants 0.117
Miscellaneous products and other liquids2 0.094
Special napthas 0.048
Aviation gasoline 0.012
Waxes 0.006
Kerosene 0.005
Total petroleum products 20.504

1Includes fuel ethanol in gasoline and biodiesel in distillate fuels.
2Others includes other liquids not included in the table.
Note: Sum of individual products may not equal total because of independent rounding.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum and Other Liquids—Product Supplied, as of September 30, 2019

Texas and California had the largest gasoline consumption in 2018.

Top five gasoline-consuming states, 2018
State Million barrels/day Million gallons/day Share of total U.S. motor gasoline consumption
Texas 1.04 43.51 12%
California 0.94 39.45 11%
Florida 0.48 20.08 5%
New York 0.36 15.25 4%
Georgia 0.32 13.59 4%

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Petroleum and Other Liquids—Prime Supplier Sales Volumes, as of September 30, 2019

How much petroleum does the world consume?

Total world consumption of petroleum in 2016 was about 97 million b/d.

  • The five largest petroleum-consuming countries in 2016 and their shares of total world petroleum consumption
  • United States20.3%
  • China13.2%
  • India4.6%
  • Japan4.1%
  • Russia3.7%

What is the outlook for U.S. petroleum consumption?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects in the Annual Energy Outlook 2019 Reference case that petroleum and other liquids will make up about 35% of total U.S. energy consumption through 2050, compared to 36% in 2018. Also in the Reference case, petroleum continues as the main energy source for the transportation sector, but the volume of petroleum consumption in the transportation sector is projected to be about 13% lower in 2050 than the volume in 2018.

Last updated: October 3, 2019