Where does gasoline come from? | Fuel Tips

Staff
By Staff Writer
Sep 21, 2022 | Fuel Tips, Sponsored Content, gasoline | Posted in News and Notes | From the June 2022 issue | Never miss an article

Photography Credit: David Thielen; Unsplash

Sponsored content presented by Sunoco.

Most of us know where babies come from, but what about gasoline? The answer goes deeper than “the pump,” and understanding the process can help differentiate the various offerings.

  • Step 1: Crude oil is extracted from the ground. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. imported about 8.47 million barrels of petroleum per day during 2021, with 51% of that coming from Canada. Next on the list: Mexico (8%), Russia (8%), Saudi Arabia (5%) and Columbia (2%). According to that same report, during the same time period, the U.S. exported about 8.63 million barrels of oil per day–so the U.S. exports more than it imports. Via some combination of ships, rail cars and pipelines, that crude oil arrives at an American refinery. 
  • Step 2: The crude can now be refined into various fractions, including diesel, kerosene and, yes, gasoline. At this point, the gasoline is still an unbranded commodity, although some additives are added–often antioxidants and corrosion inhibitors.
  • Step 3: Now let’s just follow the path for gasoline. If not bound for export, it will head to a regional terminal–often via pipeline but possibly also by rail car. Each pipeline, notes Zachary J. Santner, senior specialist of quality at Sunoco, can be used to transport different products: A load of gasoline could follow some diesel, with a mixed slug of fluid separating the two. (That slug would then be refined again at a transmix facility, he explains.)
  • Step 4: The magic that separates one brand from another happens at the terminal, Santner continues. “That’s where detergents and other propriety additives are added,” he says. “That’s where a fuel would become Top Tier or not.” Those extra detergents that define a Top Tier fuel, he notes, come at a cost, so not all brands opt for them.
  • Step 5: Trucks then transport the gasoline to the local stations. If you see a gasoline truck on the highway, he notes, it’s doing local deliveries.

But what about race fuel? As a boutique product, Sunoco Race Fuels don’t follow this path, he explains. They’re all brewed in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, to a consistent, controlled recipe and shipped via dedicated containers.

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ShiftLess
ShiftLess New Reader
5/27/22 3:19 p.m.

That was certainly not very informative... how about some meat with the potatoes!  At least a citation for further reading!

f1carguy
f1carguy New Reader
5/27/22 3:49 p.m.

This is a great website for more answers. The import and export of "oil" is very tricky because of what (crude v. refined) is moving. 

Factors affecting gasoline prices - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

And yes locally ALL the "gas" comes from the same refinery! They just add different color and additives for each brand! Question is why does one gas station sell it for (last week - Daytona) for $ 3.99 while down the street it's $4.59? It's both "top tier"! Greed! I use an app (the buddy one) and plan my route and fillups. Save $5-$10 per fillup X 52 weeks = $ 260 to $ 520 a year!   

 

I forgot one thing - there is a WAR going on and combined with Covid - all calculations are broken. 

BTW I have a degree in petroleum engineering and worked as a ruff neck on drilling rigs !

 

BAMF
BAMF HalfDork
5/27/22 7:13 p.m.

You see, when two dinosaurs really love each other and then get hit by an asteroid....

CAinCA
CAinCA GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/27/22 7:25 p.m.
BAMF said:

You see, when two dinosaurs really love each other and then get hit by an asteroid....

Awesome!

yupididit
yupididit GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/27/22 7:35 p.m.

The real question, where is gas going? crying

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
5/28/22 8:54 a.m.

In reply to BAMF :

That was the thought for a long time and led to the entire theory of peak oil.  It's a good thing it's not true.

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
5/28/22 8:59 a.m.

In reply to f1carguy :

Cool.  I used to work for a worldwide gas and oil consultant.  If everyone knew how much oil there is in the world and the cost of a barrel of oil in certain parts of the world, people would be even angrier about fuel costs.  The main driver in the cost of a barrel of oil is market speculation and the forborten topic of politics.  Technology needed and drilling sets the base cost but the two previous factors drive prices up and down rapidly and in big swings.  The gasoline producers and stations are always reacting to that.  

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
5/28/22 9:35 a.m.
yupididit said:

The real question, where is gas going? crying

f1carguy
f1carguy New Reader
5/31/22 3:29 p.m.

Oil imports and exports - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)

From the website:

Even though U.S. annual total petroleum exports were greater than total petroleum imports in 2020 and 2021, the United States still imported some crude oil and petroleum products from other countries to help to supply domestic demand for petroleum and to supply international markets.

The United States remained a net crude oil importer in 2021, importing about 6.11 million b/d of crude oil and exporting about 2.90 million b/d. However, some of the crude oil that the U.S. imports is refined by U.S. refineries into petroleum products—such as gasoline, heating oil, diesel fuel, and jet fuel—that the U.S. exports. Also, some of imported petroleum may be stored and subsequently exported.

So it is not transparent what the oil producers are doing but it looks like funny business to me. We also import low grade crude (lots of sulfur ) from Canada - only to export it and it comes back to us clean and refined!

I can't wait to go all electric! Clean electric from COAL! Haha!

jerel77494
jerel77494 New Reader
9/1/22 2:33 p.m.

In reply to f1carguy :

It's not really funny. What they didn't mention is that crude oil is not the same world-wide. Each field has different "contaminants" if you will, and it takes refineries that are designed to cope with them to turn the crude oil into something useful. It's why some people in the know laughed when Hugo Chavez threatened to send his Venezuelan crude to China instead of the U. S.; China didn't have the refineries to cope with it, only the U.S. did.

DaleCarter
DaleCarter GRM+ Memberand New Reader
9/20/22 11:14 a.m.

The most eye-opening information I have seen regarding oil gave the breakdown of products from each barrel of oil. Only about 44% goes to gasoline for motors and about 66% to transportation. The rest goes to things like fertilizer, plastics, textiles and pharmaceuticals, among other things.

 

Rising oil prices, whether due to short-term events like wars and COVID or to long-term effects like regulation, affect the prices of, literally,  everything we buy.


Also, we call them fossil fuels, but that doesn't really mean dinosaurs. Oil is, almost entirely, from marine organisms like algae and plankton. That means it is SOMEWHAT renewable... tell your anti-fossil fuel friends that and watch their heads explode hahahahahaha

 

DaleCarter
DaleCarter GRM+ Memberand New Reader
9/20/22 11:16 a.m.

In reply to f1carguy :

Coal fuels about 20% of US electrical generation and has declined rapidly since about 2008. That is, roughly, the same percentage as nuclear, which SHOULD be increasing dramatically but isn't because regulators are politicians.

I get your point, though,

frenchyd
frenchyd GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/20/22 11:33 a.m.
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to BAMF :

That was the thought for a long time and led to the entire theory of peak oil.  It's a good thing it's not true.

No,    but accessibility is true.  The world is going further and further afield seeking crude and spending a lot of money to get to it.   All those costs add to the price at the pump.  
  What does a high volume drilling rig cost for the North Atlantic?   Those super tankers?  To haul it around?  
then maintinence and eventual scrapping? 

frenchyd
frenchyd GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/20/22 11:37 a.m.
DaleCarter said:

In reply to f1carguy :

Coal fuels about 20% of US electrical generation and has declined rapidly since about 2008. That is, roughly, the same percentage as nuclear, which SHOULD be increasing dramatically but isn't because regulators are politicians.

I get your point, though,

The politicians are reacting to the fear the citizens have.  Notice no politicos ever wins a campaign by educating the public?   They win because they instilled more fear of their opponent than their opponent did of them.  
       Yes I happen to agree that nuclear can be a safer alternative to coal.  And coal has killed a lot of people while nuclear very very few. 

IKR
IKR New Reader
9/20/22 12:55 p.m.
DaleCarter said:

The most eye-opening information I have seen regarding oil gave the breakdown of products from each barrel of oil. Only about 44% goes to gasoline for motors and about 66% to transportation. The rest goes to things like fertilizer, plastics, textiles and pharmaceuticals, among other things.

 

Rising oil prices, whether due to short-term events like wars and COVID or to long-term effects like regulation, affect the prices of, literally,  everything we buy.


Also, we call them fossil fuels, but that doesn't really mean dinosaurs. Oil is, almost entirely, from marine organisms like algae and plankton. That means it is SOMEWHAT renewable... tell your anti-fossil fuel friends that and watch their heads explode hahahahahaha

Yeah, if people paid attention to where some of the world's largest reserves are and noticed that in the past the number of dinosaurs that lived in the area (per notable paleontologists) would never have been capable of producing that volume of oil we could start to have real conversations on "fossil fuels".......

 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/20/22 1:15 p.m.

A good article (3 minute read or listen).  https://www.npr.org/2022/09/15/1123108797/planet-money-breaks-down-the-price-of-a-gallon-of-gasoline

Long story short, as we already know, politicians don't set gas prices.  The costs of producing, distributing, and marketing gasoline are pretty fixed.  The only thing that changes is the market-driven commodity pricing of the crude itself.  The costs of mining are relatively fixed.  It doesn't cost shell any more or less to drill if the crude prices are $20/bl or $200/bl.  The profit from our $4 gasoline is all going to the oil companies with the crude.  It's not their fault that gas is $4/gal.  If anything it's our fault collectively.  Supply, demand, and market value drive the price of crude.  Russia invading Ukraine caused a global shift in crude prices.  Covid caused drilling an refining to slow or stop because of lower demand.  Ramping up drilling and refining again isn't an overnight thing.  Prices are coming down because we're getting back to pre-covid drilling and supply.  Once Russia stops being shiny happy people, that market tension and supply will settle.

VolvoHeretic
VolvoHeretic GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
9/21/22 12:32 a.m.

Too bad History Channel -- Modern Marvels Gasoline S8, E28 isn't on YouTube, but there is;

Youtube.com: How the World Runs on Oil: Modern Marvels (S14, E23) | Full Episode 

 

 

 

DaleCarter
DaleCarter GRM+ Memberand New Reader
9/21/22 8:27 a.m.

In reply to Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) :

Politicians don't set prices, but they affect them as much, or more, than non-governmental forces. Taxes and regulation are a huge component of the cost and governments restrict or increase global supply through regulations, embargoes, 'green" efforts, etc

Governments in the US make more profit on a gallon of gas than the producers.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/21/22 3:57 p.m.

In reply to DaleCarter :

The only money they make off of gasoline is the federal tax which has been 18.4 cents since 1993.

CyberEric
CyberEric Dork
9/21/22 8:20 p.m.

We got about 10 new GRM forum members from this article. Wow!

Interesting stuff. Thanks for writing about it. 

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