From crude oil to delivery, what determines the price of heating oil?

The price of heating oil remains somewhat opaque to the consumer. By breaking it down, we learn that it is nothing but the sum of a series of costs since the purchase of the raw material until the delivery to your home. takes stock of these more or less variable costs that accumulate over the years.

The value of fuel: major share of the price of fuel

* Figures based on the average price of 1000 liters of FOD, in the Aquitaine region, as of February 10, 2015.

The purchase price of crude oil is a significant part of the final price of heating oil since it represents about 50% of the selling price.

This is the most volatile share as the price of crude oil is subject to numerous fluctuations of one week, one month or one year to another. The causes of these variations are various: changes in supply and demand, geopolitics, euro / dollar parity, climate, quality and nature of the product, arrival on the market of new solutions such as shale gas and oil, etc. .

In France, the reference crude is Brent from the North Sea. The price of oil is defined daily on market places and constantly evolves upward or downward.

Refining, an essential step in the manufacture of fuel

Refining is an element that counts in the calculation of the price of heating oil . It involves processing and processing crude oil to produce different products such as heating oil, diesel, kerosene, propane, butane, etc.

Refining is divided into four stages: distillation first, which consists in separating the different components of the oil according to their boiling point. Several cuts are thus made to obtain mixtures of products with similar characteristics. These cuts then undergo a suitable treatment and will each give a different category of products.

Then comes the conversion, which "breaks" the heavy hydrocarbon molecules and thus meets the demand for light products. This step, also called "catalytic cracking", is carried out at a temperature of 500 ° C. 75% of converted heavy products are converted into gas, gasoline and diesel. Hydrocracking, which involves adding hydrogen to the solution, improves the quality of the product obtained. for more info.

The improvement serves to eliminate or greatly reduce dangerous and corrosive molecules, such as sulfur for example. The gas oil is heated to 370 ° C to be desulfurized, using hydrogen and a pressure of 60 bar. Kerosene, butane and propane gases are washed with soda to get rid of mercaptans (sulfur, toxic and nauseating gases) they contain: it is softening.

Mixing is the last essential stage of refining: to be marketable, the improved products must be mixed, in varying proportions, to comply with their technical specifications and adapted to European standards.

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