Water requirements of the petroleum refining industry

Water Supply Paper 1330-G



About 3,500 million gallons of water was withdrawn daily in 1955 for use by petroleum refineries in the United States. This was about 3 percent of the estimated daily withdrawal of industrial water in the United States in 1955. An average of 468 gallons of water was required to refine a barrel of crude oil, and the median was 95 gallons of water per barrel of crude charge; withdrawals ranged from 6.5 to 3,240 gallons per barrel.

Ninety-one percent of the water requirements of the petroleum refineries surveyed was for cooling. One-third of the refineries reused their cooling water from 10 to more than 50 times. Only 17 refineries used once-through cooling systems. Refineries with recirculating cooling systems circulated about twice as much cooling water but needed about 25 times less makeup; however, they consumed about 24 times more water per barrel of charge than refineries using once-through cooling systems.

The average noncracking refinery used about 375 gallons of water per barrel of crude, which is less than the 471-gallon average of refineries with cracking facilities. Refineries are composed of various processing units, and the water requirements of such units varied ; median makeup needs ranged from about 125 gallons per barrel for polymerization and alkylation units to 15.5 gallons per barrel for distillation units.

Refinery-owned sources of water supplied 95 percent of the makeup-water requirements. Surface-water sources provided 86 percent of the makeup-water demand. Less than 1 percent of the makeup water was obtained from reprocessed municipal sewage.

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Water requirements of the petroleum refining industry
Series title Water Supply Paper
Series number 1330
Chapter G
DOI 10.3133/wsp1330G
Year Published 1964
Language English
Publisher U.S. Government Printing Office
Description Report: v, 54 p.; Plate: 19.50 x 11.91 inches
Larger Work Title Water requirements of selected industries
First page 287
Last page 340
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details