The American Petroleum Industry: The Age of Illumination, 1859-1899

By Harold F. Williamson; Arnold R. Daum | Go to book overview
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Chapter 11
Postwar refining and refining organization

Between 1867 and 1873, pressure on refineries at large centers to increase the scale of their operations came from numerous sources. There was, for example, the impact of crude production which rose from about 3 million barrels in 1866 to nearly 10 million barrels in 1873. The introduction of tank cars about 1867 enabled refiners to obtain their crude in bulk. Finally, there was an approximate threefold increase in distribution of refined oils to rapidly expanding foreign and domestic markets.

A multiplication of stills, larger stills, and more extensive cracking were the principal methods available to refiners seeking to increase output. But each presented difficulties that had to be solved before it could be applied on a commercial basis. Expansion solely by multiplication of small stills, for example, soon brought diminishing returns, if for no other reason than the inconvenience of spreading operations over a wide plant

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