It costs energy to refine crude oil into gasoline and the other products that come from crude oil. Those huge refineries don't run themselves for free, they require a large amount of energy to run.
An interesting question to ponder is - How far does a gasoline car travel on a gallon of gasoline? How far would an electric car travel on the electricity consumed in refining a gallon of gasoline? Oh, and that's just the electricity used to refine the oil into gasoline, other energy is used to extract the crude oil and ship it around.
FYI this page is only concerned with the energy required to refine crude oil into gasoline. There are other costs along the chain such as the energy used in running drilling equipment, in sailing tanker ships around the world, in pumping liquid fuels through pipelines, and so on. (see Well-to-Wheels Energy and Emission Impacts of Vehicle)
6 kilowatt hours to refine a gallon of gasoline
This is based on an email received from the Dept of Energy published on gatewayev.org.1 An article on SolarChargeDriving.com by Peder Nordby used the same argument listed below.2 It should be noted that refining one barrel of oil yields gasoline in addition to other products. Thus the energy discussed below is amortized over multiple products, not just the gasoline. Even so, in terms of energy equivalencies, the following estimation is valid.
In a 2008 report, Argonne National Lab estimated that the efficiency for producing gasoline of an “average” U.S. petroleum refinery is between 84% and 88%3, and Oak Ridge National Lab reports that the net energy content of oil is approximately 132,000 Btu per gallon4.
It is commonly known that a barrel of crude oil generate approximately 45 gallons of refined product (refer to NAS, 20095, Table 3-4 for a publication stating so).
Thus, using an 85% refinery efficiency and the aforementioned conversion factors, it can be estimated that about 21,000 Btu—the equivalent of 6 kWh—of energy are lost per gallon of gasoline refined:
12 kilowatt hours plus other energy inputs
Shows a picture from Nissan's tour of the Nissan LEAF where Nissan claims it takes 7 kilowatt-hours to refine a gallon of gasoline. Nissan says that same 7.5 KWH can drive the LEAF 30 miles.
Darrell provides this estimate
To extract one gallon of gasoline (or equivalent distillate): 9.66 kWh (maybe not all in the form of electricity*)
To refine that gallon: 2.73 kWh additional energy (maybe not all in the form of electricity*)
Total: 12.39 kWh per gallon.
*Roughly one-third of the energy content of a gallon of gasoline produced from California wells is input from natural gas. Less than 2/3's is net energy (probably a lot less!).
And still more from Gassavers.com poster omgwtfbyobbq :
-CA extracts ~300 million bpy (second table), and in order to do this needs about
3,846 million KWh of electricity 2,910 million Therms of gas.
-CA refines ~15 billion gallons of gasoline per year, and this requires roughly
7,266 million KWh of electricity and 1,061 million Therms of natural gas.
Negligable energy cost to refine crude oil into gasoline
This argument comes from http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=5046
In 2005, US refineries processed 6,250,625,000 barrels of crude oil, and 48% of the output was gasoline7. They used 48,891,000,000 kWh of electricity to do so8, resulting in 89.4 Wh electricity consumed for every gallon of refined gasoline produced.
48891000000 / 6250625000 = 7.822 kWh/bbl crude oil
42 gallons/bbl -> 7.822/42 = 186 Wh/gal crude oil
186 * 48% = 89.4 Wh/gallon refined gasoline
The chemical energy in one gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is 33.44 kWh.9
So, in spite of the mind-boggling amount of electricity consumed by refineries, it only takes away about 0.27% of the gasoline's potential.
But, wait, that electricity isn't the entire fuel consumption in a refinery
The same forum thread containing the "89.4 wh/gallon" figure contained this comment http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?p=118182&sid=008b9fc100ed149807286f63310b419c#p118182
The U.S. Energy Information Administration figures released on 24th of June, 2011 that U.S. Oil Refineries consumed/purchased 46,227 million Kilowatthours from electric companies in 2010. That figure easily makes the oil refineries in places like California the electric companies largest industrial customer, which also creates an interesting business relationship dynamic as the oil companies also provide fuel to many of the same electric companies.
According to Kenneth Burridge (Editor-in-Chief of EV.com) “The EIA data confirms that quite a bit of the USA’s oil consumption, pollution and carbon emissions could be eliminated just by diverting electricity from the oil refineries directly to the garages of drivers willing to commute to work using any type of electric vehicle”. He goes on the say “the electric bill of a refinery is only a fraction of the fuel they consume and all costs are eventually passed along to the consumer with every gallon of fuel they purchase. Oil refineries are basically middlemen that EV owners don’t need.”. In addition the oil refinery also uses a large amount of: natural gas, coal, petroleum coke, and millions of pounds of water/steam to produce gasoline and diesel fuel all of which would be not necessary if ICE’s could use electricity directly like EVs.
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