North American Crude Oil Refinery and Upgrader Capacity


This interactive dashboard shows the location and capacities of crude oil refineries and upgraders in North America. The filtering and selection options include various refining types (Atmospheric Distillation, Vacuum Distillation, Coking, Catalytic Cracking, Catalytic Reformation, Alkylation and Isomerization, Viscosity Reduction, Hydrodesulphurization, and Asphalt Production), the type of refinery/upgrader (Asphalt refinery, Refinery, and Upgrader), the region (Western Canada, Quebec & Eastern Canada, Ontario, Mexico, PADD 1, PADD 2, PADD 3, PADD 4, and PADD 5), and the units (barrels per day, and cubic metres per day).

Disclaimer and Source

Open data can be freely used and shared by anyone for any purpose. The data for these graphs are available.

The refinery capacity data is published by Natural Resources Canada as part of the North American Cooperation on Energy Information (NACEI). The data can also be found on the NACEI Website.

The Sturgeon Refinery is not included in the NRCAN Source dataset at this time. The Sturgeon Refinery has been partially operational since December 2017, and has finished construction as of May 2018. Located in Redwater Alberta, the Sturgeon Refinery has a capacity of 12 560 m³/d (79 000 b/d).

Crude Oil Refining Processes

Atmospheric Distillation
The first processing unit in practically all refineries. The atmospheric unit separates (fractionates) crude oil into intermediate products (or fractions) based on boiling point. These products (naphtha, gasoil, and long residue) are further processed at other refinery units.

Vacuum Distillation
The process of further distilling the heavy products (long residue) left over from atmospheric distillation. Vacuum distillation occurs at a very low pressure, reducing the boiling temperature for heavy compounds. Products from vacuum distillation (vacuum gas oil and residual or resid) are further processed by other refinery units. Residual is used at refineries for asphalt or heavy fuel oil production or as feedstock for coking units.

When high temperatures are applied to heavy crude oil (including bitumen) to crack it into lighter oils and natural gas liquids while also creating a solid, carbon-rich byproduct called coke.  Also, when coal is baked in an airless oven at high temperatures so that the any water, gas, and coal tar inside the coal is driven off and a solid, carbon-rich product called coke remains.

Catalytic Cracking
A secondary crude oil refining process where a catalytic agent is used to break down larger heavier, less valuable hydrocarbons such as vacuum gas oil or resid into lighter, higher-value  products (gasoline and diesel). It is one of the most important conversion processes in a refinery, allowing it to increase the production of light products at refineries.

Viscosity Reduction
A refinery process that reduces the viscosity of a residual or heavy crude oil. Viscosity reduction is achieved either by partially cracking the residual in a furnace (visbreaking) or by adding a diluent (light oil, naphtha, kerosene or other distillates).

Catalytic Reforming
A refining process involving heat, pressure and catalysts in order to convert low octane naphtha from crude oil distillation into high-octane reformate, a premium component for gasoline blending and petrochemical feedstocks. High purity hydrogen is produced as a by-product which can be used for other refinery processes.

A chemical reaction in which a lineal molecule is transformed into a molecule with the same atoms in a different arrangement (branched). Isomerization units are used at refineries to transform normal butane into isobutane, a feedstock for alkylation units.

A secondary crude oil refining process which produces alkylate, a very-high octane component used for gasoline blending.

A refining process which uses hydrogen in presence of a catalyst to remove sulfur from natural gas and refined petroleum products, such as gasoline, jet fuel and diesel. Removing sulfur reduces harmful sulfur dioxide emissions resulting from the combustion of refined products.

Asphalt Production
Asphalt is produced using the heaviest product (residual or short residue) sourced from the bottom of a vacuum distillation tower. Asphalt is used primarily for road construction and roofing.

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