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Thread: Fractioning the barrel.

  1. #1
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    Fractioning the barrel.

    Ok, I have been trying to get an answer to this question everywhere ... maybe someone here can answer it.

    When a barrel of crude is fractioned, Wiki states:

    A 42 gallon barrel (U.S.) of crude oil produces approximately 10 gallons of diesel, 4 gallons of jet fuel, 19 gallons of gasoline, 7 gallons of other products, 3 gallons split between heavy fuel oil and liquified petroleum gases,[8] and 2 gallons of heating oil.

    If we reduce global consumption of gasoline by say, 200,000,000 gallons, what happens to that gasoline?

    A. It is still refined from the barrel and just accumulates into a massive glut.

    B. The same oil that was distilled to make gasoline is refined to make another product, like kerosene, petro-diesel, etc.

    i.e. The above numbers ... do they represent what happens to BE refined? Or are they distinct (percentage) layers in a "barrel" that can and cannot be used for various products based on its chemical makeup, weight, etc.

    Thanks!

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    Senior Member strider's Avatar
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    I'm not a petroleum engineer but I do know form reading that depending on the type of refinery and how it is configured they can adjust the amount of products that come from a barrel of crude. Also likely matters on the crude (heavy vs light, sweet vs sour, etc). So there could be shortages or oversupply on various products at any given time.
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    Model S 03182 ElSupreme's Avatar
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    Refining process can be heavilly tweaked to meet needs of finished goods. All they really is determine what length to make the hydrocarbons.

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    During refining, adding heat and hydrogen can crack heavier oil compounds into lighter oil compounds.
    U.S. refineries produce significantly more gasoline per barrel on average than European ones because U.S. gasoline demand is higher than diesel demand - they also use more energy to do this.
    The hydrogen almost always comes from natural gas.
    Also note that heavier oils need more cracking - or will produce less of the lighter products - and we're using up the lighter oil and leaving ourselves with heavier oil.

  5. #5
    The difference between U.S. and E.U. refineries is pretty amazing:

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    From this article:
    The Oil Drum | Global Refining Capacity

    Even with that, the EU exports gasoline and imports diesel because their diesel demand is so much higher than gasoline.

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    Model S VIN P01536 Robert.Boston's Avatar
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    ElS and richkae have this exactly right. As an easy (though not entirely correct) comparison, think about a barrel of crude oil like a gallon of raw milk. You can fractionate the milk into cream, skim milk, whole milk, half-and-half (light cream for you Brits), etc. with a great deal of flexibility. If demand for 4% (whole) milk is down, make more 1% milk and more light cream, or more skim milk and more butter.

    In oil refining, there are some extra degrees of freedom, so they can (and do) do more. It's not at all the fixed-proportions model that Wikipedia suggests.

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    Thanks ... I learned something today.

    So it also means that if we can "save" trillions of gallons of "gasoline" over the next decade or two, we can extend the supply of crude oil to make "necessary" products like PET and other plastics.

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    ERIC VFX vfx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sp4rk View Post
    Thanks ... I learned something today.

    So it also means that if we can "save" trillions of gallons of "gasoline" over the next decade or two, we can extend the supply of crude oil to make "necessary" products like PET and other plastics.
    Though the refineries will have to be optimized for production.

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    I bet if they put their minds to it, they could modify the refineries and the processes to fraction primarily for compounds used to make chemicals and plastics, which we'll need a lot more of over the next 10,000 years. That raw oozy goo is very important to the manufacturing of electric cars and batteries and wind generators and solar panels. Oil is amazing, as long as we don't burn it.

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