We have not built a new US refinery in forever…and that’s a good thing

We are down to 143 domestic US refineries from 301 a little over 30 years ago.  Of course this must be yet another crisis requiring an intervention, a bailout, protection from unfair imports.  Nope.  This is a success story.

In 1983 those same 301 refineries produced 17.9 million barrels a day of diesel, gas, jet fuel, and dozens of other products.   By early 2014 the fleet of 143 domestic US refineries will meet or surpass the production capacity last seen when appropriately “Dallas” was the #1 TV show in the land.

refinery efficiency

These refineries are cleaner, safer, more efficient, and more profitable than anything we could have imagined in 1983.

Now having lived through the great recession these past 5 years many of you may have forgot the cries of woe we heard in 2007 about how no new refineries had been built in the US in decades.  This hue and cry like most of the ill informed or deliberately misleading information you will read about the energy industry is simply ridiculous.

Why would we consume lots of new resources and take up more ground with new green field refineries needing all new supporting infrastructure when we have proven to be able to add much more efficient capacity to the investments the industry and our country have already made?  The answer is that would be a tremendous waste of time and money.

There are however consequences of this success, Evan Poole writes about some of those considerations in his Refinery Weekly column found on Fuelsnews.com, which is the source of the chart above.

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