US Capacity to Refine Crude into Products Reaches 18 MMbpd, EIA Says

July 2015, Vol.242, No. 7

Increased refinery runs, based on increases in both capacity and use, have helped accommodate increases in U.S. crude oil production.

The United States’ capacity to refine crude oil into petroleum products – measured as operable atmospheric crude distillation unit (CDU) capacity – increased by 0.2% in 2014, reaching 18 MMbpd, according to EIA’s annual Refinery Capacity Report.

The refinery capacity reported for the beginning of 2015 includes expansions that were operable on Jan. 1, but not necessarily operating. Because these units were not operating , capacity for those projects is listed as idle. Dakota Prairie Refining recently completed construction of one of the few new refineries built in the United States over the past 30 years.

This relatively simple refinery, which is located in western North Dakota, has CDU capacity of 19,000 bpd and will refine locally produced crude oil to make diesel fuel. Earlier this year, Kinder Morgan added a 42,000 bpd condensate splitter to its Galena Park, TX crude oil terminal that is also included in the capacity estimate for the start of 2015. A second unit, with similar capacity, is expected to start operating this summer, but it is not included in the capacity estimate.

U.S. refinery capacity and use have increased to accommodate increasing domestic crude oil production, which rose to an average of 8.7 MMbpd in 2014, 3.2 MMbbls higher than in 2010. Gross inputs to refineries averaged a record 16.1 MMbpd in 2014 compared with 15.1 MMbpd in 2010.

Nearly 75% of the 1 MMbpd increase in refinery gross inputs is the result of a 4% point increase in refinery us compared with 2010 (from 86% to 90%). The rest of the increase is attributable to capacity expansions. Over the same period, crude imports decreased by 1.9 MMbpd, and crude exports increased by 300,000 bpd.

The report also includes information on expansions planned for the remainder of 2015. Capacity is expected to expand by 119,000 bbls per stream-day later in 2015. Delek US plans to increase CDU capacity by 10,000 bpd at its Tyler, TX refinery, and Marathon reported that it plans to add 35,000 bpd of condensate splitter capacity at its Catlettsburg, KY refinery by the end of the year.

Further investment in refinery expansion projects will depend on expectations of relative crude oil prices and the relative economic advantage of the U.S. refining fleet compared with refineries in the rest of the world.

EIA’s report measures capacity in barrels per stream day and barrels per calendar day. Barrels per stream-day reflects the maximum number of barrels of input that a distillation facility can process within a 24-hour period when running at full capacity under optimal crude oil and product slate conditions with no allowance for downtime.

Barrels per calendar day is a measure of the amount of input that a distillation unit can process in a 24-hour period under usual operating conditions and maintenance downtime. Stream day capacity is typically 6% higher than calendar day capacity.

Principal contributors: Hannah Breul, Julie Harris

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