Refining & Distribution
When you think of oil, you likely visualize a thick, black substance. But you have probably noticed that the gasoline you pump for your car is light brown or colorless. This difference is the result of the refining process, which takes the heavy, crude oil from the ground and processes it into petroleum products like gasoline, plastic and agricultural chemicals, among others. Refineries are a key step in getting oil to market and meeting growing global energy demand.
Even though no new refineries have been built since the 1970s, industry advancements have vastly boosted refining capacity—adding the capacity of 23 average-size facilities to existing refineries.
The refining process is an important step in fueling our way of living and the American economy. For example, the State Department approval of the Keystone XL pipeline would deliver upwards of 830,000 barrels of oil per day (b/d) from Canada's oil sands region to U.S. refiners. This pipeline is a shovel-ready project that will immediately support 20,000 American manufacturing and construction jobs, and deliver secure energy to the United States from our friendly neighbor, Canada—America’s number one trading partner and largest source of imported oil.
Petroleum transmission pipelines are the primary method of transporting crude to the 142 refineries in the United States. Once at the refineries, crude oil is processed using technological advances like automation, cogeneration and solvent-extraction systems, which help get more out of each barrel of oil processed. When finished, refined products are transported by barge, truck or pipeline to service stations for marketing or distribution.
You’re probably used to seeing oil company logos at gas stations, but did you know that major integrated oil companies only own about 3 percent of retail stations? A little known fact is that the vast majority of branded stations are owned and operated by independent retailers who are licensed to represent that brand.