Last updated on: 8/3/2009 | Author:

How the United States Uses Oil

  1. Graph of US Oil Usage by Sector (gallons per year)
  2. Products Made from Oil (percentage of total US oil consumption)
  3. Common Products Made from Petroleum-based Petrochemicals

I. US Oil Usage by Sector (gallons per year) Top

The US consumed approximately 317.1 billion gallons of oil in 2006. This amount equals about 868.8 million gallons per day or 2.9 gallons per person per day. The following chart divides US oil usage by four primary sectors: commercial; residential; transportation; and industrial, which includes the agricultural, manufacturing, construction, and mining industries.

[Editor’s Note: Data in the chart above were extracted from the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) June 2008 “Annual Energy Outlook 2008 and the EIA’s online “Petroleum Navigator” at (accessed Nov. 17, 2008). used the raw data in the EIA’s report, provided in quadrillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) per year for 2006, to determine the percentage and gallons of total US oil consumption by sector.]


II. Products Made from Oil (as percentage of total US oil consumption in 2005) Top


Products Commercial Uses % of Total US Oil Consumption
  1. Gasoline Fuel
For use in automobiles and piston engine aircraft. 43.4%
  1. Distillate Fuel Oil
Includes both home heating oil and diesel fuel. Primarily used for space heating, diesel engine fuel railroad engine fuel, agricultural machinery and electric power generation. 23.5%
  1. Kerosene-Type Jet Fuel
Used for turbine powered aircraft engines. 9.2%
  1. Petroleum Coke
A solid black residue created during the distillation process. Used in electrode manufacturing, the production of chemicals, and to heat steel industry ovens. 4.9%
  1. Residual Fuel Oil
Heavy fuels used in factories, shipping, and for electric power generation. 3.8%
  1. Liquefied Petroleum Gases (LPG)
Contains hydrogen, methane, ethane, and olefins used in the production of petrochemicals. 3.4%
  1. Still Gas
Contains methane, ethane, normal butane, ethylene, butylene, propane, and propylene used in the production of petrochemicals. 4%
  1. Asphalt & Road Oil
Used to build roads, highways, playgrounds, and sidewalks. 3.1%
  1. Raw Material for Petrochemicals
Also referred to as petrochemical feedstock. These materials are used by the petrochemical industry to create synthetic goods for use by industries, agriculture and consumers. 2.5%
  1. Lubricants
Used in engines, factories and machinery to reduce friction between moving parts. 0.9%
  1. Kerosene
Used for lighting and heating. 0.4%
  1. Other
This includes all other petroleum based products. 0.9%
Total 100%

Source: There’s a Lot of Life in a Barrel of Oil, American Petroleum Institute , 2006
Note: converted the American Petroleum Institute’s 2005 data from gallons per barrel to percentages of total US crude oil consumption.


III. Common Products Made from Petroleum-based Petrochemicals: Top

Approximately 11% of US oil goes into the making of petrochemicals which are used in the production of several common products such as plastics, rubber, and synthetic materials. The following chart provides a random sampling of common products produced from petroleum-based petrochemicals:

Antihistamines Credit Cards Ink Surfboards
Antiseptics Dentures Insecticides Surgical Equipment
Antibiotics Deoderant Lipstick Syringes
Artificial Limbs Diapers Medical Equipment Telephones
Aspirin Dinnerware Nylon Rope Tennis Balls
Balloons DVDs Pacemakers Tennis Rackets
Bandages Dyes Pantyhose Tennis Shoes
Cameras Eyeglass Frames Perfumes Tents
Candles Fertilizers Photographic Film Toothbrushes
Clothing Food Preservatives Piano Keys Toothpaste
Computers Footballs Plastics Toys
Cough Syrup Glue Shampoo Tranquilizers
Cosmetics Golf Balls Shaving Cream Umbrellas
Crayons Heart Valve Replacements Soft Contact Lenses Vitamin Capsules

Sources: There’s a Lot of Life in a Barrel of Oil, American Petroleum Institute , 2006