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Refining, Distribution and Marketing

When you think of oil, you likely visualize a thick, black substance. But you have probably noticed that the gasoline you pump for your car is light brown or colorless. This difference is the result of the refining process, which takes the heavy, crude oil from the ground and processes it into petroleum products like gasoline, plastic and agricultural chemicals, among others. Refineries are a key step in getting oil to market and meeting growing global energy demand.

Even though no new refineries have been built since the 1970s, industry advancements have vastly boosted refining capacity—adding the capacity of 23 average-size facilities to existing refineries.

Petroleum transmission pipelines are the primary method of transporting crude to the 142 refineries in the United States. Once at the refineries, crude oil is processed using technological advances like automation, cogeneration and solvent-extraction systems, which help get more out of each barrel of oil processed. When finished, refined products are transported by barge, truck or pipeline to service stations for marketing or distribution.

More than 207,000 miles of liquid petroleum pipelines traverse the United States. They connect producing areas to refineries and chemical plants while delivering the products American consumers and businesses need.  Pipelines are safe, efficient and, because most are buried, largely unseen. They move crude oil from oil fields on land and offshore to refineries where it is turned into fuels and other products, then from the refineries to terminals where fuels are trucked to retail outlets. Pipelines operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You’re probably used to seeing oil company logos at gas stations, but did you know that oil companies own less than 5 percent of retail gas stations? A little known fact is that the vast majority of branded stations are owned and operated by independent retailers who are licensed to represent that brand.

Liquid Petroleum Map - t150
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