Refined products

Also known as: petroleum products, oil products, finished products

Petroleum products are the outputs of a petroleum refinery. A typical refinery produces a wide variety of different products from every barrel of crude oil that it processes. Generally, refineries operate to make as much of the high-value light products (gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel) that they can, with the other products acting essentially as by-products.

Some of the major products from a typical refinery are:

  • Propane - Used as a feedstock for ethylene cracking, or blended into LPG for uses as a fuel
  • Butane - Used as a feedstock for ethylene cracking, or blended into LPG for uses as a fuel
  • LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) - A blend of propane and butane used as fuel
  • Light naphtha - Used as feedstock into ethylene crackers
  • Gasoline - Used as a transportation fuel for passenger cars and light trucks
  • Aviation gasoline - Used as an engine fuel in light aircraft
  • Jet fuel - Used as a fuel for jet aircraft
  • Kerosene fuel oil - Used as a residential cooking, heating, and lighting fuel
  • Diesel - Used as a fuel for heavy-duty trucks, trains, and heavy equipment
  • Industrial gasoil - Used as a furnace fuel in industrial plants and commercial/residential heating (heating oil)
  • Residual fuel oil - Used as a fuel in power generation and for large ocean-going ships (bunker fuel)

Many refineries also produce specialty or non-fuel products such as:

  • Asphalt - Used to pave roads and in the manufacture of building materials (e.g., roof shingles)
  • Base oils - Used to make lubricating oils for use in industrial machinery and vehicle engines
  • Propylene - Can be separated for sale to the petrochemicals industry
  • Aromatics - Can be separated from reformate for sale to the petrochemicals industry
  • Wax - Extracted from lubricating oil and either sold as a feedstock to specialty wax production (as slackwax) or treated at the refinery to a finished wax product.
  • Grease - Used as a solid lubricating oil, mostly in industrial uses
  • White oil - A colorless, odorless, tasteless oil used by the food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals industries
  • White spirit - Naphtha range material used as an industrial or household solvent
  • Sulfur - A contaminant when present in other products, but once separated, it can be sold as a feedstock to the petrochemicals industry
  • Pet coke - A by-product of the coking process that can be sold as a fuel for power plants and cement plants or to manufacture electrodes and anodes

The Refinery Reference Desk includes content derived from our industry experts as well as from public data sources such as company websites. Nothing herein is intended to serve as investment advice. This material is based on information that we believe to be reliable and adequately comprehensive, but we do not represent that such information is in all respects accurate or complete. McKinsey Energy Insights does not accept any liability for any losses resulting from use of the content.



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