The Chicago Tribune published an interesting report on America’s oil addiction here. From the intro:

When Tribune correspondent Paul Salopek asked the industry if he could track crude flows from across the globe to a single gas station, the answer was unequivocal: It simply can’t be done.

An industry spokeswoman reinforced that notion by referring Salopek to a Web site debunking popular legends. declared: “[B]y the time crude oil gets from the ground into our gasoline tanks, there’s no telling exactly where it came from.”

As it turns out, that’s not always true.

While gasoline is certainly a fungible commodity, the key to unlocking its far-flung sources lies hidden in an obscure industry document called a “crude slate.” Every refinery in America keeps a slate, or list, of the types of oil it processes. Because the names of individual crudes on such lists often can be linked to precise oil reservoirs, they offer a remarkably accurate map of the global oil supplies pouring into the Midwest.

The hitch: Such data are among the tightest-held secrets of a secretive industry. Companies compete for supplies that can vary in price by a penny a barrel–a margin that at high volume can spell the difference between profit and loss.


  • “Oil rose to around $74 a barrel on Monday after a leak on Russia’s largest oil export pipeline to Europe added to concerns about supply losses in Nigeria and violence in the Middle East.” (via Reuters)
  • “An explosion at an Indonesian oil refinery Saturday injured nearly 150 people, news agencies reported. Workers at the joint Pertamina-PetroChina facility set off the blast when they were trying to contain a gas leak, according to local police chief Rumhadi. There were no reports of fatalities.” (From AME Info)