What Gets Made from a Barrel of Crude Oil?


Did you know that one barrel of crude oil creates around 45 gallons of refined products? This helpful infographic from Visual Capitalist details more about how the majority of crude oil is processed, but we want to focus on the fact that 10.1% of a barrel of crude oil includes plastics, some of which include polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE).

Both PP and PE are used to make everyday plastic products we all may have at home. Additionally, some of the raw PP and PE that come from crude oil are allocated for use in industrial fabrics like Acadian’s knitted shade, woven shade, and truck cover fabrics.

How Crude Oil Becomes Plastic

Crude oil is drilled underground and pumped to a refinery on the surface through pipelines. At the refineries, the crude oil is warmed by high heat in a furnace and then moved through the distillation process. Finally, the oil is broken down and grouped based on chemicals present and eventually made into a number of byproducts, including raw PP and PE.

Dangers of Disruptions to the Oil Supply

As we’ve been tracking changing resin prices and supply shortages this year, this infographic is a good reminder that disruptions to the oil drilling or refining process can cause shortages in all of the different byproducts it lists. This affects all of us since so many different things are made from just one barrel of crude oil.

With very active hurricane seasons like we’ve experienced over the past several years, fires, and other disruptions to the oil supply, the creation of every byproduct can be impacted, at nearly every part of the supply chain.

For example, oil disruptions can cause shortages in raw PP and PE, thus affecting the production of plastic products, including our fabrics. Beyond that, less crude oil means less jet fuel, which we need to transport raw PP and PE to mills. Additionally, fuel shortages slow down the everyday shipping of goods to customers.

Essentially, any large disruption to oil drilling and refining can cause a ripple effect through multiple industries. And, while these effects might not be felt right away, they could become more apparent down the line. It truly is all connected.


Read more about crude oil byproducts by checking out the full infographic from Visual Capitalist.