Jan 16, 2013

A Barrel of Energy

One barrel of crude oil contains 42 gallons. When refined, it yields approximately 19.4 gallons of motor gasoline. The remainder of the barrel produces distillate fuel oil, residual fuel oil, jet fuel, and other products (ink, crayons, tires, deodorant, and heart valves). That 42 gallons of oil will release six million British Thermal Units (one BTU is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one pint of water one degree Fahrenheit; it's equal to one match tip). A typical American uses about one million BTUs every day.

The amount of petroleum products consumed in the United States is not tracked as such by the Department of Energy; rather, it counts "product supplied." Its system “measures the disappearance of petroleum products from primary sources; [this] approximately represents consumption of petroleum products." We used 3,290,057,000 barrels (more than 137 billion gallons) in 2008. (All Facts Considered, by Kee Malesky)