These 5 Refiners Make Half the Crude Oil in the US

The total refiners capacity in the US is around 18.8 million barrels per calendar day. The refinery utilization rate in 2018 was 93%.

Rekha Khandelwal, CFA - Author

Oct. 23 2019, Updated 8:49 p.m. ET

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The US has a total refining capacity of around 18.8 million barrels per calendar day. The refinery utilization rate in 2018 was 93%. So, the crude oil inputs to the refineries averaged around 17.0 million barrels per day in 2018. Five refiners—Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC), Valero Energy Corp. (VLO), ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM), The Phillips 66 Company (PSX), and Chevron Corp. (CVX)—control 51% of the total US refining capacity. These five refiners together have a refining capacity of 9.5 million barrels per calendar day.

With a refining capacity of around 3.0 million barrels per day, Marathon Petroleum (MPC) is the largest refiner in the US. As the above graph shows, it owns around 16% of the total US refining capacity. So, let’s take a closer look at MPC’s refining operations.

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Top refiner: Marathon Petroleum

Marathon Petroleum has a total of 16 refineries. These are located in the West Coast, Gulf Coast, and Mid-Continent regions. Also, its Galveston Bay crude oil refinery is the second-largest in the country.

Marathon Petroleum became the largest refiner after it bought Andeavor in October 2018. The company processed 2.1 million barrels per day of crude oil in 2018. Plus, it processed 193 thousand barrels per day of other charges and blendstocks.

Marathon’s winning products

The company’s refineries process various condensate and light and heavy crude oils. These are bought from domestic and foreign suppliers. Also, it makes numerous refined products. These include:

  • Transportation fuels like reformulated gasoline and grade gasoline for blending with ethanol and ultra-low-sulfur diesel.
  • Distillates like fuel oils, jet fuel, kerosene, and diesel fuel.
  • Fuel-grade coke at its Garyville, Detroit, Galveston Bay, and Los Angeles refineries. Such coke is used for power generation and in other industrial applications. Also, MPC makes anode-grade coke at its Los Angeles and Robinson refineries. Unlike fuel-grade coke, anode-grade coke is used to make carbon anodes for the aluminum smelting industry.
  • Heavier hydrocarbons like heavy fuel oil, which is mostly used in the utility and ship bunkering industries.
  • Asphalt, which is used by asphalt-paving contractors, government entities, and asphalt roofing shingle manufacturers.
  • Aromatics, propane, propylene, and sulfur.

In addition to refining and marketing, Marathon Petroleum sells fuels and products in retail markets. Also, the company has midstream operations. These are managed through its MLP subsidiary MPLX (MPLX).

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Second-largest refiner: Valero Energy

Valero Energy (VLO) makes up about 12% of the total US refining capacity. The company has 13 refineries in the US. With these refineries, it has a combined capacity of around 2.2 million barrels per calendar day. Also, it has one refinery each in Canada and the UK. Valero makes conventional gasoline, CARB (California Air Resources Board) gasoline, diesel, ultra-low-sulfur diesel, CARB diesel, and distillates. Also, it makes jet fuel, asphalt, petrochemicals, lubricants, and other petroleum products.

The refinery inputs to Valero’s refineries in 2018 made up 77% of crude oils. Other inputs included 8% of residual fuel oil and 15% of other feedstocks and blendstocks. In terms of output, gasoline and blendstocks made up 48% while distillates made up 37% of the output. Plus, other products made up 15% of the refineries’ output.

Valero’s refining operations are mostly located in the US Gulf Coast. The company’s eight refineries in the region accounted for a throughput of 1.8 million barrels per day in 2018. Also, Valero has three refineries in the Mid-Continent and two in the US West Coast region.

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Energy giant ExxonMobil

Integrated energy giant ExxonMobil (XOM) makes up about 9% of the total US refining capacity. The company has just five refineries in the US. However, three of these five refineries—Baytown, Baton Rouge, and Beaumont—are amongst the 10 largest refineries in the US. Also, the company has a refining capacity of 1.7 million barrels per calendar day in the US.

Globally, ExxonMobil has 21 refineries located in 14 countries. The company’s global refining capacity is around 4.8 million barrels per day. Additionally, upstream operations make up about 60% of ExxonMobil’s earnings. By comparison, downstream operations account for roughly one-fourth of its total earnings.

Phillips 66

Phillips 66 (PSX) is the fourth-largest refiner in the US based on operable refining capacity. Also, as of January 2019, the company makes up about 9% of the total US refining capacity. It has nine refineries in the US. In addition, it has two refineries: one in Borger, Texas, and one in Roxana, Illinois. In each refinery, it has a 50% interest.

Additionally, Phillips 66 has one refinery in the UK. Also, it has a 19% interest in a refinery in Germany. Phillips 66’s US refining capacity is around 1.7 million barrels per calendar day. However, this is only slightly less than that of ExxonMobil’s. Phillips 66’s refineries are spread across the Gulf Coast, Central Corridor, and West Coast regions. In addition, Phillips 66 has operations in the midstream and chemicals segments.

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Chevron’s refining operations

With a capacity of around 1 million barrels per calendar day, Chevron (CVX) has the fifth-highest refining capacity in the US. It makes up about 5% of the US refining capacity. Notably, Chevron has only four refineries in the US.

However, its 56-year-old Pascagoula plant is among the 10 largest refineries in the US. Chevron’s Richmond and El Segundo plants in California, along with its Pascagoula plant, make up nearly all of its US refining capacity. Its fourth refinery in Utah has a capacity of just 55 thousand barrels per day.

At Chevron’s US refineries, the average capacity use was 97% in 2018. Also, imported crude oil made up about 70% of Chevron’s US refinery inputs in 2018. Plus, the company has a lot of refining operations in Singapore, Thailand, and South Korea. Additionally, like ExxonMobil, Chevron is an integrated energy company with upstream, midstream, and downstream operations.


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