Location of oil refineries
October 6, 2004 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Where does oil refined to make gasoline on the west coast of North America come from? Alaska? Mexico? Alberta?
posted by Keith Talent to Grab Bag (5 answers total)
The two refineries in Anacortes, WA (Shell/Texaco and Tesoro) both say they get the majority of their crude from Alaska's north slope, and the rest from Canada.

Other western Tesoro refineries are listed here.

Here's a page on California's oil terminals and refineries.
posted by pitchblende at 10:49 AM on October 6, 2004

Basically everywhere. Crude is sold in grades based on its distillate properties and sulphur content, but any refinery can use any crude, so price is typically the deciding factor.

The US west coast gets most of its gas from three sets of refineries: Puget Sound in Washington State, in the SF bay area and from aorund the LA basin. There's a small refining centre in Bakersfield too, making gas and distilates. The coastal market, particularly California with their unique set of requirements, is a seperate market from the rest of North America. Most gas is made local to the area.

Some of the oil is native to California, but Californian crudes are terrible oils for making gas, very heavy and just about the highest sulphur content anywhere in the world (we've measured them as high as 7% sulphur by weight). So the three refiners get their oil by imports from: The US Gulf coast (Texas and South Louisiana), the Canadian West (through Chicago), the Canadian eastern offshore (Terranova and Hibernia Fields), Alaska, both North Slope/Prudhoe Bay and Cook Inlet fields (ANS is the the #1 crude transported on the west coast, I think), and also from Europe (the UK and Norway), SE Asia (Indonesia, etc), and the Middle East (mostly Saudi Arabia). The major missing players on that list are Mexico and Nigeria.

Canadian production info is more closely held and harder to come by---the refiners don't even want to disclose which crudes they use typically (US companies have to by law). Canada is a net exporter of oil. Canada's market is split in three, served by Calgary for the west coast and praries, and Sarnia, Ontario for Ontario and Quebec. The maritimes are mostly supplied by Irving in St. John, about 10-15% of the market. Most of what we use domesitcally comes from Alberta, with smaller fractions from Nigeria and the North Sea (the UK and Norway again). We do get crudes from around the world to some of the smaller refiners, especially Irving, but most of what we use, we make ourselves.
posted by bonehead at 11:26 AM on October 6, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks bonehead, great answer.

It's a fascinating business that I'm certain the logistics of would make ones head explode if they were privvy to all the machinations of the system.
posted by Keith Talent at 11:55 AM on October 6, 2004

Don't want to turn this into PoliticsFilter.. but.. whenever I've read about oil, it seems like the US actually uses pretty little from the Middle East (compared to that from other places). The US seems to be one of the world's biggest providers, as do Russia, the UK, Canada, etc.. Doesn't this make the whole argument of playing naughty in the Middle East to 'get oil' unrealistic?
posted by wackybrit at 1:44 AM on October 7, 2004

Your first stop for anything about oil in the US should be the Department of Energy pages. The US produces only about a third of what it needs (>5k bbl/day). It imports the rest (>10k bbl/day) from a wide variety of contries (2003 annual data): Saudi (12%), Mexico (10%), Canada (10%), Venezuela (8%), Nigeria (5%), Iraq (2%), Russia (2%), UK (2%), Kuwait (2%), about twenty or thirty other countries.
This year, imports from Canada and Mexico are up (#s 1 and 2 now), and the whole Arabian Gulf are down.

That said, while the US does not heavily rely on the Arab world for oil, most of the rest of the major consumers do: Western Europe gets about a third of its oil from the Gulf, Japan, almost two thirds. So, as a producer of about a quarter of the world's supply and the biggest producing block, O(A)PEC can have a strong influence on pricing by didling the supply of oil. That's mitigated now mostly by Russia, but they have their own production problems at the moment.
posted by bonehead at 6:50 AM on October 7, 2004

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