Crude Oil

Crude Oil vs Petroleum

When it comes to natural resources, you’re probably familiar with the words crude oil and petroleum, but it’s important to note that there are some significant differences between the two. Crude oil is a mixture of hydrocarbons that exist in the form of a liquid. These liquids are found deep underground in geologic formations, and it remains as a liquid when it’s extracted from the earth and brought to the surface. Petroleum is actually a product that is produced by processing crude oil and other liquids at specialized petroleum refineries.

During the refinement process, the liquid hydrocarbons are extracted at natural gas processing plants. Once complete, the finished petroleum products are taken to blending facilities. In other words, petroleum covers a much broader category of items that includes both crude oil and other petroleum-based products, however, this term and the word oil are often used interchangeably.

It might surprise you to know that only a small amount of crude oil is directly consumed within the United States and that most of it is refined and turned into petroleum products like diesel fuel, gasoline, jet fuel, and heating oil. The liquid that comes from natural gas processing can also be used as a petroleum product. Renewable energy sources like biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel) are used as a substitute for or as an additive to refined petroleum products.

However, the U.S. Energy Information Administration includes these biofuels in their statistics when tracking the consumption of petroleum-based products. In 2021 alone, the US consumed approximately 19.78 million barrels of petroleum every day, which totals to around 7.22 billion barrels. The total consumption increased to about 1.6 million barrels more per day over the consumption in 2020, likely due to the reduction in travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the total consumption for 2022 is currently unknown, it’s likely to increase as well.