Pop Quiz:

  1. How many states do not have a petroleum refining facility?
  2. Name the state with the 3rd largest crude distillation capacity (after Texas and Louisiana).
  3. How about the 4th largest?
  4. How many petroleum refineries are there in the US?
  5. How is the size of a petroleum refinery usually defined?


  1. 19 (Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Maine,  Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia)
  2. California
  3. Illinois
  4. Any answer from 134 to 142 is acceptable depending on how you define “petroleum refinery”.
  5. A refinery’s “size” is commonly understood to be its maximum crude oil distillation unit feedrate measured in barrels of crude oil per calendar day (i.e. the feedrate reflects the typical amount of time that the distillation unit is shut down over the course of a year).

The information here is taken from the US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) annual US Refining Capacity Report.  The report contains information on US refineries as of January 1, 2014.  The report is a “snapshot” of the industry’s status on that date and does not include refinery sales, acquisitions, start-ups, or shutdowns which may have occurred since January 1.  AFPM prints the report and hard copies may be requested from AFPM or you may download a digital version of the report from the AFPM web site [http://www.afpm.org/Statistics/].

Total US crude oil distillation unit capacity as of Jan. 1, 2014 is 17,924,630 BPCD which is 0.6% more than the capacity reported for 2013 and a pretty good year for capacity gain which has averaged only 0.3% per year over the past five years (while the number of refineries has declined from 150 to 142 or about 1% per year).  This low growth rate reflects the unsteadiness of the US economy over the past few years, but it has also been dampened by refinery shutdowns which have offset other refineries’ capacity increases.

There are 58 companies with US refining assets and 42 of the 58 are AFPM members.  (I count joint ventures as part of one of the parent companies.) The companies in the petroleum refining segment of the oil industry include the “majors” (BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, etc.); “independents” (Tesoro, Valero, etc.); some that are owned by internationals (Husky, PDVSA, Petrobras, TOTAL, etc.); small independents (Northern Tier, Nu Star, Western Refining, etc.); and agricultural co-operatives (CHS, Countrymark, etc.).  The label “Big Oil” with its intimation of a monolithic industry composed of very large companies doesn’t really apply to the diverse population of US petroleum refiners.

AFPM members operate 120 of the 135 US facilities with crude distillation capacity and AFPM member refineries make up 96.8% of total US capacity. 

The six majors account for 52.5% of US refining capacity (this includes Phillips 66 and Marathon) while the 38 companies which are small refiners (less than 250,000 bpcd of crude oil capacity) have 15.4% of US total distillation capacity. The balance is operated by the independent refiners and international companies with US assets.

I rank the petroleum refiners by capacity differently than EIA (because I include the capacities of JVs with the company that operates the JV refinery).  Here is my list of the Top Ten US petroleum refiners.

1.Phillips 66 2.09 MM BPCD
2.ExxonMobil 2.05 MM BPCD
3.Valero   1,90 MM BPCD
4.Shell  1.83 MM BPCD
5.Marathon1.71 MM BPCD
6.Chevron0.94 MM BPCD
7.Tesoro0.83 MM BPCD
8.BP0.78 MM BPCD
10.Flint Hills0.69 MM BPCD
Jeff Hazle

Posted by Jeff Hazle

Jeff Hazle is the former Senior Director of Refining Technology for AFPM. To learn more about AFPM, visit AFPM.org.