• What Fuels Are Made from Crude Oil?

Fuel for Thought

What Fuels Are Made from Crude Oil?

Jul 27 2014

After crude oil has been extracted from the ground or the sea, it must be processed in a refinery to turn it into something useful, whether it is a fuel or a commodity. Because there are a myriad of different organisms and biomasses that go into the composition of different crude oils, each having been formed under varying degrees of heat and pressure, not all crude oil looks or behaves the same.

There are three main kinds of crude oil:

  • Heavy - dark colour, very viscous and sticky to the touch
  • Light - flows fluidly and is normally of a light golden hue
  • Medium - somewhere in the middle of the two

Depending on the type of crude oil and the treatment applied to it, many different fuels can be derived from it. The principle ones among these are:

Petroleum, or Motor Gasoline

From a typical barrel of United States crude oil, almost half of it (19 out of 42 gallons) will be devoted to the creation of gasoline to power automobiles. This is not a practice confined to the States either; petroleum is the biggest offshoot of crude oil.


Diesel is the second most common product made from crude oil, with around 12 US gallons going towards it from every barrel.

Jet Fuel

Around 10% of the crude oil in a US barrel goes towards jet fuel and powering aeroplanes.

Liquefied Petroleum Gases (LPG)

LPG, often referred to as simply propane or butane, is a flammable gas, which is used in heating appliances around the home, in stoves and other cooking equipment, or as fuel for cars. Around 2 gallons of every 42 go towards this end.


Used for its flammable and automotive qualities, kerosene is also another product made from crude oil.


With increasing concerns about the sustainability and eco-friendliness of fossil fuels, over the past decade protest about their use has turned into legislation. These days, fuel production companies are required to have a certain percentage of their produce composed of biofuels.

The leaps and bounds that these more environmentally-friendly fuels have made can be seen in the rapid growth of biodiesel production. This growth was exemplified by the Biodiesel Plant Planned for New Zealand back in 2012.

Elsewhere, biofuels have even infiltrated the field of aviation, with the first flight powered on bio-kerosene taking place in October last year. To get more information on the story, read this article: Brazil Sees First Flight on Biofuel.

Other Products Made from Crude Oil

When it is not being converted into fuel to power our vehicles and heat our homes, crude oil also has a variety of other uses. These include:

  • Ink
  • Deodorant
  • Tyres
  • Plastics of all kinds
  • Computers
  • Ammonia and other sterilising or cleaning liquids

…and there are many more!

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