• How Long Does It Take to Produce Petrol?

Analytical Instrumentation

How Long Does It Take to Produce Petrol?

Feb 26 2018

For the average motorist it takes a matter of minutes to fill up the tank. But have you ever paused to think about where the oil comes from, or how long it takes to get from the ground to the gas station? While there's no set timeline in place, experts estimate that the journey could take anywhere from two weeks to a month.

Turning crude oil into refined gasoline

It all starts at the drilling well, where oil is extracted out of the ground. It's often transported into a pipeline in the same week and sent to nearby refineries. Once in the refinery it's progress is tracked by the hour. Generally, every 30,000-barrel batch takes around 12 to 24 hours to undergo through analytical testing and pass quality control. A key stage is ultra-heating the crude to boiling point, with a distillation column used to separate the liquids and gases.

After the refined oil has ticked all the boxes it's released for shipment. Distributors then hold the fuel before loading it onto trucks, with timeframes varying from one day to three weeks. Once loaded onto the truck the fuel is usually delivered to its final destination in 12 hours or less. In some cases, pipelines may be subbed for rail cars, tanker vessels or trucks. Depending on the scenario, this could shorten or lengthen the total travel time.

A four-week benchmark

So, overall it takes an average of four weeks to get fuel from A to B. Of course, this can vary depending on a host of factors. In a low inventory and high demand situation the process could be fast-tracked to just two weeks. In comparison, delays with refinery machinery, trans-Atlantic shipments and subpar product could push the timeline forward to several months.

Factor in pre-drilling phases and the total production process could be considered years. Technically it all starts with exploration and pre-drilling activities, which can span for six months or more. This includes seismological surveys, environmental reviews, land permits, mineral rights, regulatory approvals and more. Then there's building infrastructure, hiring employees and putting the entire project together.

Want to know more about the petroleum production process? Spotlighting the latest Monochromatic Wavelength Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence technology, 'Ultra Low Sulphur Analysis in Liquid Petroleum Using MWDXRF' explores the reactions to tougher regulations that have forced refiners to heighten quality and maximise efficiency. Increased monitoring is key, with the article spotlighting WDXRF as a fast, easy and precise solution.


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