What is a barrel of oil?
barrel of oil split
The proportion to different products from a barrel of oil

Crude oil is sold between countries in quantities called barrels. (The same measurement is used to sell whisky.)

One barrel of oil is the same as:

  • 159 litres (about 80 large fizzy drink bottle)
  • 35 gallons (enough to fit in the petrol tanks of about 4 cars)
  • 280 pints (a lot of bottles of milk)

The weight of a barrel depends on where the oil comes from. However, there are about 8 barrels in a tonne.

You could fit nearly 2 million barrels of oil into a football stadium - or one and a half tankers. This is how much oil we use in the UK every day.

In 2004 the cost of a barrel of crude oil rose to a record of $50 - about £30.

The amounts from a barrel of oil going to different products are shown above and on the right.

product gallons from 42 in barrel
chcmical feedstock 1.2
refinery gas 1.9
petrol 19.5
kerosines 4.1
diesel fuel 9.2
lubricants 0.5
fuel oil 4.1
bitumen 1.3