A barrel of crude oil is only 42 gallons, not 55 gallons.

Each barrel of crude oil like WTI will typically produce:

Gasoline - 20 to 30%

Fuel Oil-diesel - 17 to 24%

Jet Fuel / Kerosene- 8 to 12%

Heavy Oils- Liquids - 10 - 14%

Coke, Lubricants - 3 - 6%

Naphta and lighter condensates - 2 to 10%

So to answer your question: On average a barrel of WTI crude oil produces approximately 20 gallons of gas. An accurate answer requires knowledge of which crude you consider or at least the typical specification of the crude type. It varies a lot.


April 6, 2010
Crude oil $85 (current spot price)

Gasoline $2.52 (Current price; Independence, ks)

Price gasoline obtained from oil: $38.59 (45% of barrel is gasoline - Oil company pays)

Price paid for 19 gallons of gas: $48.00 (What you pay)

Difference :- $10.59
Difference per gallon : -$.56 per gallon (negative means your paying less then
spot price. [We call this premium payment, but never mind - since 48 is MORE than 39])

Ok, so on average we are paying $.56 less than the spot price! In other words we are getting a hell of a deal in America on gasoline, thanks to capitalism!

Sorry - but this assumes that the refinery only produce gasoline. So, let us forget that they produce electricity, complex chemicals and also get paid to deliver this.

Just consider that they get 20 glns (I would like to see the crude type that you buy at WTI - with a gasoline content of 45% - the typical price for API 40+ is WTI Platt + $15 per bbl).

Current price 2.52 per gln * 20 gln = $50.40

The rest is on average traded on $90 per BBL - in total $54 per bbl (with a 5% profit - industry average)

So the oil company gets $104/BBL, and makes a profit of $15 per BBL were the majority originates from the sale of the gasoline. This reflects the cost of logistics and keeping the petrol stations attendants at work.

I can compare this with European refineries / petrol stations, where the operating margin is typically 5% of gross revenue. This makes the US price high, indicating lack of competition in a highly regulated market.
So much appraisal for capitalism - you pay well above for your "hell of a deal" - giving the oil company a operating margin of 20%, to maintain your belief! In a competitive and open market, their margins are 5%...

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