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Oil Processing


Crude oil usually consists of a mixture of hydrocarbons having varying molecular weights and differing from one another in structure and properties. These various species are separated into groups, or fractions, by a process of distillation called refining. The oil is first heated to a vapor, then passed upward through a tower containing trays at various levels. The vapors are very hot at the bottom, but become cooler as the rise, so that different fractions condense in the trays at different heights. The lighter the fraction the higher up it condenses. In an average crude oil the fractions, beginning with the lightest, are: (1) dissolved gases, (2) petroleum ether, (3) gasoline, (4) kerosene, (5) gas oil, (6) lubricating oils, (7) fuel oils, and (8) asphalt.

Because so much gasoline is needed, ways were developed to break down the larger molecules of the heavier fractions to produce it. This process is called "cracking" and may be accomplished by subjecting these fractions to high temperature and pressure, or by employing a chemical catalyst.

Trade Associations:

American Institute of Mining, Metalurgical and Petroleum Engineers.
American Institute of Chemical Engineers
Association of Petroleum Re-Refiners
Council of Petroleum Accountants Societies
Independent Lubricants Manufacturers Association
Independent Petroleum Association of America
National Oil Recyclers Association
National Petroleum Refiners Association


The production of petroleum based fuels is not regulated per se, except for health and safety regulations and commercial standards.

Government information:

Energy Information Administration (home page)
American National Standards Institute (ANSI)

Trade periodicals and publications:

Energy Technology Data Exchange - an international consortium, owns the Energy Database, with over 3 million bibliographic citations of international energy research and development information.

Other sources:

International Energy Agency
National Petroleum Council
Society of Petroleum Engineers
World Petroleum Congresses
International Centre for Heavy Hydrocarbons (http://www.oildrop.org/) provides information on the huge energy resource of heavy hydrocarbons (oil shale, tar sands, etc.).

Sample process engineering firms:

Bunger and Associates, Inc - provides crude oil evaluation, refinery technical services, custom analysis, distillation simulations, gasoline blending software and process evaluations.
China National Chemical Engineering Shenzhen Company - an engineering enterprise specializing in chemical and petrochemical industry.
DB Robinson and Associates Ltd - A diverse company dedicated to providing quality phase behavior and fluid property technology to the petroleum and petrochemical industries.
Eadie Oil, Inc. - has a process technology for partially upgrading heavy oil. The process may also be used for recycling used lubricating oil to #2 diesel.
Elliott Services Mechanical Inspectors - certified contract inspections for the refinery and petrochemical industry throughout the US.
Engineering & Construction Group - group of companies providing an array of services to the oil, gas, petrochemical, and energy generation industries.
Engineering Development Group, Inc.
- engineering, project management and construction services for the oil & gas, chemical and refinery industries.
Fluor Daniel Applied Computer Solutions - provides dynamic process simulation for the petroleum, petrochemicals, chemicals, power, and other process industries.
James E. Smith & Associates - offers engineering services to the oil and gas industry in East Texas and the southwestern United States.
John S. Herold, Inc. - specialized independent research and consulting firm focusing exclusively on the petroleum industry.
Mazur Associates - certified API tank inspector, certified ASNI welding instructor.
Oil & Gas Consultants International - OGCI specializes in petroleum training, technical publishing, organizational learning consulting, and business management consulting for the oil and gas industry worldwide.
Operational Services, Inc. - a technical services company to the oil, gas and power-producing industries.
PetroAct - engineering consulting company providing proactive environmental management solutions for the fuel (petroleum, oil, gas) industry.
T.H. Russell Co. - engineering, design, fabrication and installation of oil and gas processing equipment.
TETRA Engineering & Technology Inc. - services for the refining, chemical, and petrochemical industries.
Transtech Marketing Ltd - represents several leading international plant and equipment manufacturers for suppliers to the oil, gas, petrochemical and energy-related industries.
Traton Engineering Company, LLC - engineering and environmental consultants.
Trinidad Inspection Services Ltd. - provides non-destructive testing services for the oilfield and petrochemical industries.
Van Meurs & Associates Ltd.
- World wide consulting services in petroleum economics for the up-stream oil and gas industry.
Ventech Companies
- provides engineering, procurement, construction and start-up services to the refining, gas processing, and petrochemical industries.
West Texas Research Group, LLC (WTRG) - provides data, analysis and strategic planning for the energy industry. One of their current projects is the determination of the actual wellhead price of crude oil.

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