The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Country of Origin

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted September 3, 2009

A group that lobbies for ethanol wants consumers to know where their fuel come from, so it has asked Congress to require gasoline dealers to put labels on their pumps. According to The Hill, the ethanol group Growth Energy believes that consumers won't like where some of their fuel originates and are likely to prefer purchasing homegrown ethanol made from U.S. corn.

This clever marketing strategy is being pushed by Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, co-chairman of Growth Energy, who no doubt has witnessed the financial difficulties of many ethanol producers during the recession. But it's completely unworkable.

As API's Rayola Dougher explained to The Hill, it would be impossible to determine precisely where each gallon of gasoline originated. Oil is purchased based on its chemical properties on the global market, not by country of origin. Then it is transported to refiners for processing where oils with similar properties are mixed together and shipped via pipeline. Texas oil, Oklahoma oil and oil from the Mideast become part of the same batch. Next the oil is refined into gasoline, most of which also is shipped through pipeline where additional mixing can occur. By the time it reaches the pump, it would be impossible to determine where the oil originated. As Rayola says, trying to figure out where the oil came from simply "can't be done."

The oil industry is one of the largest users of ethanol. In June 2009, 721,000 barrels of ethanol a day were mixed in gasoline for American consumers, accounting for 8 percent of the total gasoline volume purchased during the month.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.