Crude oil and other liquids produced from fossil fuels are refined into petroleum products used for various purposes. Biofuels are also used as petroleum products, chiefly in mixtures with gasoline and diesel fuel. Petroleum has historically been the largest major energy source for total annual energy consumption in the United States. Petroleum products are used in vehicle propulsion systems, in heating interiors in buildings, and in the generation of electricity. Petroleum is also widely used in the industrial sector—for example, as feedstock in the petrochemical industry to manufacture products such as plastics, polyurethane, solvents, and other goods.
The applications of petroleum-based products are wide-ranging, and include the following:
- Sporting goods
- Health and beauty products
- Medical supplies
- Household products
The insulating and heat resistant properties of plastics and other petroleum-based products make them suitable for use in electronic components. The majority of electronic components in appliances such as speakers, smartphones, computers, cameras, and televisions are derived from oil. Clothing is commonly made from petroleum-based fibers, including acrylic, rayon, vegan leather, polyester, nylon and spandex. Petrochemicals are also used in the manufacture of shoes and purses for their lightweight, durable, and water-resistant properties.
Various sports equipment is made with petroleum, including basketballs, golf balls and bags, football helmets, surfboards, skis, tennis rackets, and fishing rods. A variety of personal care products are also derived from petroleum, including perfume, hair dye, cosmetics such as lipstick, makeup, foundation, eyeshadow, mascara, and eyeliner, hand lotion, toothpaste, soap, shaving cream, deodorant, panty hose, combs, shampoo, eyeglasses, and contact lenses.
Modern health care providers rely on petroleum products that are difficult to substitute. For instance, plastics are used in medical devices and petrochemicals in pharmaceuticals. Other products include hospital equipment, IV bags, aspirin, antihistamines, artificial limbs, dentures, hearing aids, heart valves, and more. Some household products also use petroleum in their production, including construction materials such as roofing and housing insulation to linoleum flooring, furniture, appliances, as well as common home decor products such as pillows, curtains, rugs, and house paint.
In 2020, US petroleum consumption averaged about 18.12 million barrels per day (b/d), including nearly 1 million b/d of biofuels. Total petroleum consumption in the US was approximately 13% lower in 2020 than the levels in 2018 and 2019, which is attributed to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumption of most petroleum products in 2020 was lower than in 2019.
As of 2020, Gasoline was the most consumed petroleum product in the United States. That year, consumption of motor gasoline averaged approx. 8.03 million b/d, which was equal to about 44% of total US petroleum consumption at the time. Distillate fuel oil was the second most-consumed petroleum product in the United States. This type of fuel oil includes diesel fuel and heating oil. Diesel engines of heavy construction equipment, trucks, buses, tractors, boats, trains, some automobiles, and electricity generators all use diesel oil. Heating oil, also called fuel oil, is used in boilers and furnaces for heating homes and buildings, industrial heating, and producing electricity in power plants. Total distillate fuel oil consumption in 2020 averaged about 3.78 million b/d, which was equal to 21% of total US petroleum consumption at the time.
Hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGLs), the third most-used category of petroleum in the United States, include propane, ethane, butane, and other HGLs that are produced at natural gas processing plants and oil refineries. HGLs have many uses, including as petrochemical feedstock for ethylene production and power generation; in the production of polymers, anti-freeze materials, and detergents; as fuel for space and water heating, cooking, drying, and transportation; and more. The total consumption of HGLs in 2020 averaged approx. 3.20 million b/d, accounting for about 18% of total petroleum consumption. Jet fuel was the fourth most-used petroleum product in the US, averaging about 1.08 million b/d in 2020, accounting for approx. 6% of total petroleum consumption.
The graph below illustrates the consumption of oil by region in mega tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe).
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), petroleum consumption in the US by end-use sectors' percentage share of total in 2020 was the following: 66% for transportation, 28% for industrial, 3% for residential, 2% for commercial, and <1% for electric power.
According to the EIA, the five largest petroleum-consuming countries in 2018 and their shares of total world petroleum consumption were the following: 20.5% for United States, 13.9% for China, 4.8% for India, 3.8% for Japan, and 3.6% for Russia. EIA estimates that the total world consumption of petroleum in 2018 was approx. 100 million b/d.
Petroleum products consumed in 2020
Asphalt and road oil
Distillate fuel oil (diesel fuel and heating oil)
Finished motor gasoline
Hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGLs)