Most Oil Isn’t Used To Make Gas, Here’s What The Rest Does

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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A mere 46 percent of oil is used to make gasoline, while the rest goes to help make a variety of other useful products.

The other 54 percent of oil is used to make most over-the-counter medicines, various cleaning products, some rubber, tons of cosmetics, many lubricants and most of the world’s asphalt. Virtually all plastic, and every product made from or containing plastic, ultimately comes from oil. Out of every 42-gallon barrel of oil, 22.6 gallons is used to make products other than gasoline.

Petroleum is used to make numerous everyday products including tape, petroleum jelly, bandages, toothpaste, insect repellent, contact lenses, computers, paint, fertilizer and many other things used in everyday life. Over 6,000 different products are made from oil.

Gasoline isn’t even the only way to use oil for fuel. In 2014, 21 percent of fuel oil was used as heating oils or diesel, and another 8 percent was used to create jet fuel, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

American oil production is skyrocketing due to the increased use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and horizontal drilling. America imported about 60 percent of its oil in 2007, but by 2014, the U.S. only imported 27 percent of its oil — the lowest level since 1985, according to EIA.

The U.S.  is now the world’s largest and fastest-growing producer of oil — surpassing both Saudi Arabia and Russia early last year.

The huge amount of new American oil has led to a drop in the price of oil, with energy prices dropping 41 percent over 2015 due to fracking, according to EIA. Such a sharp decline in price means everything made of petroleum products gets cheaper, which benefits the poorest people in society the most.

“It may not have a huge effect on the top 10 percent of households, but if you’re earning $30,000 or $40,000 a year and drive to work, this is a big deal,” Guy Berger, a Royal Bank of Scotland economist, told The New York Times in January. “Conceptually, this is the opposite of the stock market boom, which was concentrated at the top.”

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