U.S. refineries grow capacity, but not production

The total crude oil processing capacity of the nation’s refineries  reached its highest level in 28 years in 2010, but much of that capacity went unused because of low demand for gasoline and other refined products, the federal Energy Information Administration reported this week.

The nation’s 148 refineries had the capacity to process 17.7 million barrels of oil a day on Jan. 1, the EIA calculated in its annual Refinery Capacity Report. Eleven refineries were idle.

But the facilities only used about 86 percent of their capacity last year, well below the record highs of more than 95 percent in the mid-to-late 1990s.

Texas is home to 26 refineries, with a total capacity of 4.7 million barrels of crude daily.

Exxon Mobil Corp. maintained its position as the nation’s largest refiner by capacity, with ability to process 1.9 million barrels per day. The corporation’s Baytown refinery is the nation’s largest, with an operating capacity of 560,640 barrels a day.

2 Comments

  1. AstonMArtin

    Wasn’t the gasoline price spike after Katrina attributed to a lack of refining capacity? Weren’t they supposed to correct that little problem by building more refining capacity?

    Something doesn’t smell right here. I understand that we need reserve capacity to handle spikes in demand, but what’s the use in having it if it isn’t used when needed?

    Demand was there until the price got too high and then it declined to a point where we now can’t supply the demand to support the capacity for supply.

    Evidently price and capacity are a couple of other factors that affect supply and demand in ways someone isn’t fully considering when planning the economy. I wonder if this could apply to other goods and services we all want or need.

    #1
  2. SomewhatInformed

    To: AstonMArtin

    No the spike was due to the majority of domestic crude oil production in the Gulf being shut down coupled with the fact that the majority of refining capacity (include the single nation’s largest) where not running at full capacity after Katrina.

    So we had the refining capacity then but the bulk of it (~30%)was unavailible.

    #2