History of the 42-Gallon Oil Barrel

When filled with oil instead of fish or other commodities, a 42-gallon “tierce” weighed 300 pounds. The 42-gallon oil barrel was officially adopted in 1866. Today, a barrel’s refined products include about 20 gallons of gasoline, 12 gallons of diesel and 4 gallons of jet fuel and other products like liquefied petroleum gases and asphalt.

In August 1866 a handful of America’s earliest independent oil producers met in Titusville, Pennsylvania, and agreed that henceforth, 42 gallons would constitute a barrel of oil. Pennsylvania led the world in oil production as demand for kerosene soared.


Read more: History of the 42-Gallon Oil Barrel

Measurement Units and Conversion Factors

Depending on the purpose of the measurement-and on regional or national preferences - oil, gas, gas liquids and their products may be measured in terms of volumeweight or thermal energy. For example:

  • Petroleum engineers, particularly those working in the Western Hemisphere, measure oil and gas volumes to answer questions like, "How much oil or gas do I have in my reservoir? How much can be produced during the life of the field? What is the daily production rate?"
  • In contrast, ship owners would want oil shipments to be measured in weight to avoid overloading their tankers.
  • Marketers, on the other hand, are interested in the value of the products to their customers. When they sell oil and gas products for fuel, they charge on the basis of thermal energyunits rather than volume or weight.


Read more: Measurement Units and Conversion Factors



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