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Why Some Crude Oils Are Better Suited Than Others

Why Some Crude Oils Are Better Suited Than Others

The density and sulfur content of your crude oil are two top factors determining its true quality.

You might think the answer to this question is the price or where the oil has been extracted. However, the density and sulfur content of your crude oil are two top factors determining its true quality. A few locations produce higher-quality crude oils, which often sell for a higher price. Read on to learn more about which crude oils are better than others!

How Does Sulfur Content and Density Affect Quality?

The higher the sulfur content is and the heavier the density, the lower the quality the crude oil will ultimately be. A lighter density oil with a more lower sulfur content is some of the highest quality crude oil, which means that it sells for more money. Prices can vary a bit based on quality differences.

Sulfur Content in the Oil

The industry likes to use the terms sour and sweet to describe the amount of sulfur in crude oil. These food-related terms can describe high-quality types as sweet and the lower qualities as sour. When prospectors were first opening up wells to produce, they’d taste the commodity to see if it was bitter, rotten, or sweet. High sulfur crude oil is cheaper for a couple of reasons:

  • This kind of crude oil is known for producing larger amounts of toxic emissions than others
  • High-sulfur crude might damage refinery equipment because it has a much higher rate of oxidation and corrosion. If a refinery isn’t equipped to handle sour crude oil, it could end up spending too much on maintenance and repairs as well.
  • Crude oil with higher sulfur content also has fewer hydrocarbons. These components are what allow for the full combustion of fuel within an engine. This means lower-quality fuel won’t be as efficient.

Why Should Refineries Pick the Highest-Quality Crude Oil?

If producers can sell cheaper oil that works, then why would a refinery want to pay for higher prices? The answer is in efficiency, both for production and cost. Gasoline and diesel are more easily produced with better oil and can sell at much higher prices. This means more minor damage to equipment, which can reduce the cost of maintenance.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, July 14th, 2022 at 3:24 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.