Gasoline And Petrol
Refineries take raw material — crude oil — and transform it into gasoline and hundreds of other products.
Refineries in the United States are producing record amounts of fuel, but the demand for gasoline and other petroleum products still exceeds current production. An unplanned shutdown of just one refinery can have an immediate impact on gasoline prices. The production disruptions and shutdowns caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 showed how difficult it can be to replace lost production.
During the months leading up to the summer driving season, refineries will transition to produce "summer blend" gasoline. This gasoline, required by the EPA, is more expensive to produce because refiners must retool their blending processes to remove components that are more likely to evaporate in the hot weather and react with other pollutants to form ozone, one of the main ingredients in smog.
A petroleum product derived from crude oil, heating oil is primarily used for residential space heating. Nearly 8 million households in the United States, largely in the Northeast, use heating oil as their main heating fuel.
Refineries, which are typically optimized to produce gasoline, retool their processes to produce heating oil for the winter season, October through March. Refiners transport heating oil supplies into storage terminals to be distributed by truck to either smaller storage tanks or directly to residential customers.
Next to oil, natural gas is the second-largest source of energy in the United States, providing close to 25 percent of all energy consumed. More than half of all households in the United States use natural gas as their primary heating fuel.
Natural gas is the cleanest burning fuel, producing less carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide than other fossil fuels. In addition to heating uses, a growing proportion of the country's electricity is natural gas-fired. In recent years, the majority of new power generation capacity built in the U.S. has been gas-fired.
The United States is the world's second largest producer of natural gas. Natural gas is produced by using natural pressure in the reservoir or by pumping device. Once produced from a wellhead, it is gathered at a central location, processed to meet pipeline specifications, transported through thousands of miles of pipelines to local distributors who deliver the product to the consumer.