Oil is a special strategic commodity because variations in its prices have had a significant impact on the world economy. As it is a scarce natural resource, reserves are not distributed according to consumption needs, which makes the industry and the oil market a global activity, with an important, volatile and intense international trade.
The private and state companies dedicated to the exploration, extraction and export of crude oil and those that buy it to transform it into derivatives (gasoline, naphtha and diesel) are the fundamental base of the world oil market.
Refineries process crude oil in different derivative products, such as gasoline, aviation fuel, asphalt and others. The most basic refining process separates crude oil into its various components. The crude oil is heated and placed in a distillation tower, where the different components of the hydrocarbons are boiled and recovered, condensing at different temperatures.
Differences in oil crudes.
The physical characteristics of crude oil may be different. In simple terms, they are classified by their density and sulfur content. Less dense ("lighter") crudes generally have a higher proportion of light hydrocarbons, allowing high value products such as gasoline, aviation fuel and diesel to be processed with simple distillation. The denser ("heavier") crudes generate a very high proportion of low-value properties with simple distillation and require additional processing to produce the desired range of products. Some crudes also have a higher sulfur content, an undesirable characteristic for processing and product quality.
Additional compounds to the crude
In addition to oil, refineries and processing plants use and add other oils and liquids for the production of the final product intended for consumers. These include liquids that condense in gas wells. Plants process liquids from natural gas, and unfinished crude oils that are produced by partial refining, such as naphthas and light oils, kerosene, light gas oils, heavy gas oils and waste. The waste comes from the crude oil after the distillation of the heavier components.
Mixing facilities add oxygenated compounds, such as ethanol, and various "blend components" for the production of motor gasoline. They also add relatively small, but growing proportions of "biodiesel" (made from vegetable oils or animal fats) to diesel fuel and heating oil.