July 16, 2011

U.S. Crude Oil Refining Capacity Near 30-year High (Guest Post)

By Commodities Now

US oil refining capacity increased to its highest level in nearly three decades during 2010, but refining operations remain well below historical highs seen in the 1990s, according to the Energy Information Administration ( EIA).

Chart Courtesy Inteldaily.com (Added by EconMatters)
Atmospheric crude oil distillation capacity at U.S. refineries was 17.7 million barrels per day at the beginning of 2011 according to the EIA's Refinery Capacity Report. Capacity, which was 0.15 million barrels per day above its level at the start of 2010, reached the highest level recorded since 1982. Since 2001, total net U.S. refinery capacity grew by more than 1 million barrels per day. There were 148 refineries operating in the US at the beginning of 2011.


Nearly half (49%) of US refinery distillation capacity is located in the Gulf Coast region, which is Petroleum Administration for Defense District ( PADD) 3, up from 46% in 2001.  Most expansions of refinery distillation capacity have taken place at the larger refineries and most of these large refineries are located in PADD 3.

The regional distribution of U.S. refinery distillation capacity outside of PADD 3 at the beginning of 2011 was 9% on the East Coast (PADD 1), 21% in the Midwest (PADD 2), 4% in the Rocky Mountains region (PADD 4), and 18% on the West Coast (PADD 5).

The last major brand new US refinery started operating in 1977 at Garyville, Louisiana. Since then, distillation capacity expansions have come from construction of relatively small refineries and expansion of existing plants. Decreases in refinery distillation capacity resulted mostly from plants that were shut down.

In recent years, some refineries have temporarily ceased operation for economic reasons but continue to be counted as operable capacity if they can be returned to service within 30 days.

Courtesy Commodities Now

The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.

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