Sue T asks: Why do we measure oil in barrels instead of gallons or liters? just how much oil is in a barrel?

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More than simply gasoline for our cars, crude oil is transformed right into an infinite variety of commodities we usage every work – from personal products like shampoo and also lotion, to food preservatives and fertilizers, come the plastic bags and also packaging that space ubiquitous today.

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A Barrel of Oil

One barrel contains 42 gallons of rudely oil indigenous which, in the U.S., frequently 19 gallons the gasoline are produced. In California, “additional various other petroleum assets such together alkylates” are included to the crude oil to develop a “processing gain,” such that:

 The complete volume of products made from crude oil based beginnings is 48.43 gallons on mean – 6.43 gallons greater than the initial 42 gallons of crude.

According to the California power Commission, each barrel of rudely oil yields assets as follows:


Finished Motor petrol (51.4% – a bit much more than the nationwide average)Distillate Fuel Oil (15.3%)Jet Fuel (12.3%)Still Gas (5.4%)Marketable Coke (5.0%)Residual Fuel Oil (3.3%)Liquid Refinery Gas (2.8%)Asphalt and Road Oil (1.7%)Other Refined assets (1.5%)Lubricants (0.9%)

Why Oil is measure up in Barrels

The industry for crude oil oil yes, really took off after Abraham Gesner began distilling kerosene in 1846. This lamp oil became an extremely popular and as need increased, therefore did the require for the crude oil that was derived from. The first successful drilled oil well (previously, that was every gleaned native “natural seepage”) remained in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859.

Wooden Barrels

In the mid-1800s, all liquids that required a chop container of any type of size to be stored in wooden barrels. Experienced coopers (barrel makers) had been producing watertight 42-gallon wood barrels since Richard III collection the dimension of a tierce the wine at 42 gallons in 1483-1484. However, to capture the oil booming indigenous the new wells in Titusville, early on producers were using any watertight container they can get your hands on, including “wooden tierces, whiskey barrels, casks and also barrels of every sizes.”

Nonetheless, the dimension of the container quickly ended up being standardized around the 42-gallon barrel, as result of practical considerations:

A 42-gallon tierce weighed much more than 300 pounds – around as much as a man can reasonably wrestle. Twenty would fit ~ above a typical barge or rail flatcar. Larger casks to be unmanageable and small were much less profitable. 

By 1860, in Pennsylvania the 42-gallon barrel had become standard. Due to the fact that Pennsylvania was at the head of the early oil boom, its techniques were soon adopted across the country.

In 1872, 42 gallons ended up being the typical for the Petroleum producers Association and in 1882, the U.S.G.S. And also the U.S. Office of Mines embraced the traditional as well.


Oil Tankers

Bulk oil shipping – put the oil in the cargo holds of ships – had actually been used because the 1870s, as had actually “cylindrical rail tank cars.” by 1883, oil tankers to be being developed with bulkheads to protect against the free-flowing oil in the holds indigenous sloshing and potentially bring about the ships come capsize.

In the 1950s, in solution to the closeup of the door of the Suez Canal, bigger tankers that could much more efficiently deliver oil roughly the Cape of great Hope to be needed, and so the supertanker to be born, and by 1958, ships the held around 700,000 barrels to be being supplied to carry crude oil.

As the 2011, the biggest supertankers, the TI Europe and the TI Oceania, to be able to lug over 3,000,000 barrels that oil in a solitary voyage.

Oil Pipelines 

Pipelines to be being supplied to move crude oil native the start of the oil eight in the 1860s, but not till the at an early stage 1900s, when need for petroleum significantly increased, were pipelines built throughout the country:


During the 1920s, thrust by the expansion of the car industry, total U.S. Pipeline mileage prospered to over 115,000 miles.

Early pipelines carried crude oil indigenous “the prolific fields in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas to the refineries in the East,” and with the increased migration that Americans across the West, the pipelines moved in the direction together well.

After oil was found in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in 1968, an 800-mile pipeline, from Valdez to Prince william Sound, recognized as the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, was constructed and also completed in 1977. At its height in the 1980s, it was transporting over 2,000,000 barrels every day. By 2012, that was decreased to 579,000.

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Today’s propose Keystone XL Pipeline is set to transfer crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta come Steele City, Nebraska, where:

It would attach with currently pipelines to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The U.S. Segment would be 875 miles long, running through Montana, southern Dakota and Nebraska. The 36-inch diameter line could bring up come 830,000 barrels that oil per day.

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