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Densities of Oil Products

Densities of Oil Products

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Published by Reza Babri

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Published by: Reza Babri on May 19, 2009
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Energy Statistics Working Group Meeting
IEA, Paris, France16-17 November 2004
Special Issue Paper 9Densities of Oil Products
Mieke Reece
There is a need for a review of the average densities of oil products in the OECD countries.
Why do we need the information on the average densities of oil products?
Density is defined as mass per unit volume i.e. metric ton per barrel. The oil industry in different partsof the world uses different units of measurements. For example, in Europe, the metric ton (a massunit) is generally accepted as the unit of measurement, while in North America, volume units areused, e.g. barrels in the United States and cubic metres in Canada.When compiling a world oil balance, it is necessary to use a common unit, either a volume unit or aunit of mass. Depending on the choice of the unit, this means that data originally reported in one typeof unit need to be converted into the common standard.The international oil industry is generally using “barrels” as their accepted standard. Barrels are ameasurement of volume, and therefore any data for countries which is in mass unit will need to beconverted to volume. Moreover the mass to volume conversion differs from product to product andmay be differing from country to country. As an example, the density of crude oil can easily varyfrom 0.125 (8 barrel per ton) to 0.152 (6.6 barrel per ton), whereas oil products can vary between0.086 (LPG) to 0.150 (fuel oil).The joint Eurostat, IEA/OECD, UNECE questionnaires collect data in metric tons or mass, while theIEA’s Oil Market Report is presenting data in barrels. We therefore need to convert all the oilinformation from metric tons to barrels.In order to obtain an accurate world oil balance in volume and to limit the statistical error, it isessential that each product in each country is converted at the appropriate factor.
Why do we need to review this periodically?
Densities do not remain constant over time. Little by little they change, as on the one hand, in thesupply of crude oil, the density becomes higher, on the other hand, in the consuming sectors new andimproved technologies, as well as the increasing complexity of the oil products result in the use of higher density oil products.As a consequence, it is necessary to carry out a survey to evaluate the situation, the last survey wascarried out in 1993, or some 10 year ago. It therefore seemed timely to conduct an update of thissurvey at the occasion of the 2004 ESWG. This survey was not intended to be carried out on a yearlybasis, and will be renewed on an ad-hoc basis when necessary. Only results from OECD and EUcountries were received.The results of the survey have been attached in Annex I.Many countries sent incomplete data, and eight countries (of which some important consumers andproducers) did not report any densities at all. Unfortunately, therefore, the results of the survey so farcannot be completely conclusive, particularly as some values look inconsistent with the past values.However, we have still prepared the preliminary results for your review.We will continue to calculate weighted average densities for the three main regions: OECD NorthAmerica, OECD Pacific, and Europe (including EU members which are not currently members of the
3OECD). These regional averages will then be used to convert the Eurostat, OECD/IEA, UNECE oildata from metric tons to barrels, for example as shown in the IEA’s monthly Oil Market Report.
We will continue to pursue the data from the countries which have not responded yet, and to extendthe survey to UNECE Member countries which are not members of OECD and EU. Depending on theresults from the UNECE countries, we will see if there is a need to add a fourth region.

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