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How Much Does 1 Gallon of Oil Weigh?

When you are transporting loads of crude oil it is important to determine the amount of weight in your goods to ensure that you are in compliance with the weight restrictions. Since gallon is a measurement of volume, not weight, what is a gallon of oil weight?

What does a gallon weigh? The crude oil's weight varies between 6.5 pounds/US gal up to 8.5 pounds/US gal. This is because crude oil varies in grade in weight from medium to high. Because the weight of petroleum is also affected due to fluctuations in temperature the petroleum industry employs measurement methods that take into account the fluctuations.

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How To Calculate The Weight Of A Gallon Of Oil?

In order to convert the volume of gallons to the weight of pounds you'll have to know what the volume of liquid will be, as well as the temperature. The procedures used to achieve this are called API gravity and specific gravity.

Specific Gravity

The United States Bureau of Standards (changed to the National Institute of Standards in 1988) adopted the Baume Scale in 1916 to determine an exact gravity for liquids (source).

Specific gravity is the measurement of its density with respect to a standard liquid , such as water at a certain temperature. Specific gravity can be determined by dividing the volume of a liquid by its volume, then dividing it with the water's density at that temperature (source).

If you know the precise gravitational force of liquid you can determine the weight of the liquid to pounds, by adding it up with the density of water per US gallon (lbs/US gal) at a particular temperature.

It is believed that the American oil industry employs 60degF (15.6degC) as a reference temperature to measure the numbers included in this post are derived from the standard. Water density at this temperature is 8.3369 lbs/gal. Because Canada utilizes the standard metric system, they employ 15 degrees Celsius (59degF) as their base temperature. This is 8.3379 tons/us gal (source).

API Gravity

Petroleum industry created an API gravity that measures its density in petroleum liquids. API is the acronym for API, which stands for the American Petroleum Institute (API) that created API gravity back in 1921 and the US Bureau of Standards.

API gravity can be used as a gauge of value because the higher it is the gravity API of an oil the less dense and fuels with lower density are more expensive to purchase. To determine the API gravity, you need divide 141.5 by the specific gravity of the oil, and after that subtract 131.5 (source).

Grades Of Crude Oil

The most common types of crude are: light heavy, and medium with different nations and organisations having different standards. The amount of a gallon of medium, light, or heavy crude differs from the next one by one quarter or half 1 pound per gallon, depending on the standards employed.

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Light Crude Oil

Light crude oil is sold at a premium price due to the fact that refineries that process oil can make more gasoline and diesel from it. Light crude oil has very low density and viscosity that can flow easily at the temperature of room. Light crude oil also has shorter chains of hydrocarbons compared to heavier oils.

The light crude oil is characterized by an API gravity of high and lower specific gravity. A majority of the crude produced by America can be classified as light crude. However, the crude oil found in California is considerably more significant.

The Threshold For Light Crude

The limit between medium and light crude oil is different. For instance The US Energy Information Center defines light crude oil as exceeding 40.1deg API (source) and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources defines it as being over 31.1deg API (source).

The New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) sets the threshold of gravity API of light crude that is used for domestic use in the United States on West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil, which varies between 37deg API as well as 42deg API (specific gravity of 0.8398 to 0.8156) (source). But, NYMEX provides the API gravity range for light crude oil that is suitable for exports as 32deg API to 42 deg API (specific gravity range of 0.8654 between 0.8654 and 0.8156).

Because the petroleum produced by the United States is much lighter than those produced in Mexico or Canada and Canada, both Canada as well as Mexico have API standards that are lower to determine what is considered lighter crude oil.

Government of Alberta defines it as 35 API however, it is the National Energy Board of Canada has determined the light crude oil could have APIs that is as small at 30.1deg (source). Pemex is an owned by the state Mexican oil company determines the limit on light crude oil in the range 27deg to 38deg API (source).

According to an export NYMEX standard The weight range between 32 to 42 API ranges from 7.215 to 6.8 lbs/US gal . This is an average of around seven pounds per US gal. Domestic light crude would have 7.001 to 6.8 lbs/US gal , for the average to be 6.9 US gals.

If we take the minimum standards of the Louisiana DNR which is in line with international standards, which is 31.1 API, it provides us with a minimum mass for lighter crude in the range of 7.255 Lbs/US Gal.

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