Petroleum & Refinery

Petroleum products are hydrocarbon-based compounds derived mainly from crude oil and natural gas that serve a multitude of purposes in modern life. Crude oil and natural gas may be refined through purification, distillation, and conversion. Some of the most manufactured refinery products are combustible fuels used in the automotive and aviation industry such as gasoline, diesel, and kerosene. Other refined products are naphtha, ethane, and methane which serve as feedstocks for polymers such as plastics, elastomers, and resins. From plastic-wrapped cookies to time-release vitamin pills, our world is shaped by petroleum.

The most common petroleum product is gasoline. Oil prices determine end-consumer prices for motor fuels; vice versa, a significant change in motor fuel demand may directly impact producer prices for crude oil. In 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic brought about widespread travel restrictions, oil benchmarks were immediately affected, falling to historic lows.

Most produced petroleum product
Week of lowest oil prices for major benchmarks in 2020
April 20-28
Lowest OPEC basket closing price in 2020
19.33 USD/bbl

Market size

Refinery capacities and throughput
Refinery capacity for crude oil worldwide from 1970 to 2019 (in 1,000 barrels per day)
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Oil refineries are often owned and operated by large oil and gas producers. They are typically located along rivers or coastlines, as refining processes require extensive amounts of water. Meanwhile nearby situated ports offer the means of transporting finished petroleum products to consumer markets. Today’s refineries have a combined daily capacity of over 100 million barrels of crude oil. The U.S. has the greatest oil processing capacity; more than all OPEC member states combined.

Global oil refinery industry
Petroleum sector in India

Market segments

Gasoline reigns supreme in automotive industry
Breakdown of global car sales in 2019 and 2030, by fuel technology
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Gasoline is the most used motor fuel in the global automotive industry. Despite strides made in introducing non-fossil fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, they are generally used in combination with petroleum-based gasoline or diesel in order to work in the average combustion engine. Nevertheless, many governments impose levies and taxes as an incentive to reduce their consumption, which leads to countries such as Norway having some of the highest gasoline prices in the world.

Oil and gasoline prices
U.S. gasoline market
U.S. gasoline-powered vehicle market

Industry trends

Biofuel investments stagnate
Investment in biofuel technologies worldwide from 2004 to 2019 (in billion U.S. dollars)
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Investments in biofuel technology have languished in the past decade despite energy-affiliated institutions urging for greater adoption rates. Biomass-sourced motor fuels are won from renewable resources such as crops and cooking oil wastes. Initially worldwide investments climbed as high as 26 billion U.S. dollars shortly before the Great Recession. However, today, they are most often used as gasoline or diesel blends, with the U.S. expected to be the greatest consumer market by 2030.

Biofuel industry in Europe
Biofuel industry in South America
U.S. biofuel industry

Industry leaders

China and India top rankings of largest refiners
Refining distillation capacity of leading oil companies worldwide in 2019 (in 1,000 barrels per day)
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Some of the leading refiners worldwide are Chinese state-owned companies. Sinopec has a greater atmospheric distillation capacity than any other oil and gas major and an annual throughput of 250 million metric tons. Meanwhile, the Reliance Industries-owned refinery facility in Jamnagar, India is the world's largest oil processing complex. Next to a refinery unit, it also houses areas for petrochemical manufacturing and electricity generation.

World's largest oil refineries
Reliance Industries Limited
China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. Report 2020

Industry definition

The petroleum and refinery category provides statistics and reports on the mid- and downstream oil and gas sector as well as on biofuels. Statista has assembled information on the production of petroleum products on global, regional, and local scales. Additionally, the category provides trading figures, prices, and market forecasts.

More interesting topics from the industry "Petroleum & Refinery"

Prices, Marketing, and Trade


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