Though oil refinery productivity in the United States has been improving, the number of operating refineries has been dropping steadily. In 1982, the earliest year for which the Energy Information Administration has data, there were 301 operable refineries in the U.S., and they produced about 17.9 million barrels of oil per day. Today there are only 149 refineries, but they’re producing 17.4 million barrels – less than in 1982, but more than any year since then.
Existing refineries have been running at or near full capacity since the mid-1990s, but are failing to meet daily consumption demands. Yet there hasn’t been a new refinery built in the U.S. since 1976. Why? Several factors: Building a refinery is expensive, there are a lot of environmental restrictions on where and how they can be built and nobody wants to live near one.
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