Crude Oil is a naturally occurring, yellowish-black liquid mixture of hydrocarbons. It can appear in the form of highly viscous liquid with its colour ranging from a light yellow to dark brown or black.
Characteristically, crude oil may include small amounts of hydrocarbons in gaseous phase that form the natural gas; non-hydrocarbons such as sulphur and various metals; petroleum products that can be refined and produced at a refinery; and more.
Crude oil is refined in Fractional Distillation Units (FDU) and Vacuum Distillation Units (VDU) to produce a wide array of petroleum products, including ethane, propane, and butane; gasoline, diesel and jet fuels; heating oils; lubricants; asphalt; and many other products used for their energy or chemical content. It is estimated that the world consumes about 100 million barrels each day.
Primary differentiating qualities of Crude Oil:
VISCOSITY: Light Crude Oil VS Heavy Crude Oil
Light Crude oil is a low viscous, low-density oil (high API gravity >31.1) that requires less processing and produces a greater percentage of gasoline, diesel and other distillates compared to heavy oil.
Medium Crude oils have API between 22.3 and 31.1.
Heavy Crude oil is a highly viscous, high-density oil (low API gravity <22.3) that cannot flow freely at room temperature. It is used for heavy products like asphalt.
Extra Heavy Crude Oil has API gravity below <10.
SWEET VS. SOUR
Sweet crude oils have very low levels of sulphur, below 0.5%. Sour crude oils have as much as 1-2% of Sulfur content.
The Total Acid Number (or TAN) of crude oil is a measure of the corrosiveness of the crude due to the presence of acids, particularly naphthenic acids. Generally, an acid number of anything over 1 is considered high. If a crude has a high TAN number, producers must use more robust metallurgy than standard so their processes can handle that corrosivity and keep the crude in the pipe.
BBP currently supplies:
- Oman Light Crude
- WTI (West Texas Intermediate)
- Nigerian Bonny Light Crude
- Iraqi Basra Light
Crude oil is of little use in its raw state, it is the refined products which are most valued by the end consumer. In the distillation tower at the refinery, crude oil is separated into light distillates, middle distillates, heavy distillates and residuum (See Light Distillates).