In this article we are going to list the 15 biggest oil refining companies in the world. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 5 biggest oil refining companies in the world. But before we get into more detail about the company as well as the global industry pertaining to oil refining, first let’s try to understand what oil refining actually is. Most of you must know that oil is found beneath the surface of the earth and is extracted through onshore and offshore drilling platforms. However, the oil which is extracted is in its natural form not really usable for products such as kerosene, lubricants and fuels. This is where oil refining comes in.
Oil refining is a major activity which involves in turn, several major processes. Oil refining takes place in an oil refinery and the processes include distillation, coking, cracking, reforming as well as post treatment and the refining of products. This process in turn requires a lot of thermal energy and also results in the release of a lot of carbon dioxide and if you’ve learned anything at all related to climate change and what has been causing it, you will know this is not a good thing. The release of CO2 in the air is one of the leading factors of climate change and the oil refining industry has come into fire a lot over the past several decades, but even more so now that awareness is spreading and the effects of climate change aren’t just being talked about but are also being felt as well. Petroleum refineries alone each year release around a billion tons of CO2 which makes up 4% of the total global emissions, and is a completely unstainable number. And in developed countries which can afford to focus on these issues, news rules and regulations have been passed over the several years to make businesses more environmentally friendly and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit the effect of climate change. This has caused a dent in the oil refining industry but this has been more than offset by increased production in developing economies, where rules and regulations are much more lax. And despite these rules, the biggest oil companies have the resources to flout them and escape any serious repercussions. After all, even a fine of a few million dollars is nothing for a company which earns hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue each year. There is a reason why the biggest oil refining companies in the world are also among the companies which are the biggest polluters in the world.
While it may seem to be a simple industry, the refining of crude oil is quite complex and complexities have been increasing over the years, with new challenges cropping up, including lower quality of crude oil which can include tar sand bitumen, extra heavy oil and heavy crude oil. Other issues that the industry is facing are the volatile crude oil prices with the volatility increasing earlier in 2020 when Russia and Saudi Arabia engaged in a price war over oil which decimated the prices and combined with the pandemic, actually resulted in negative future contracts for oil for the first time in history. And of course, as I mentioned earlier, complying with new environmental regulations has also made things tougher, with focus required on clean manufacturing processes and reduced emissions, which can be quite expensive and hit the operating expenses of a company. This is why the oil refining industry needs to combine with the tech industry and come up with a solution that will be both cost effective and able to achieve all requirements.
The global oil refining industry has been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which you may remember affected drastically the prices of oil as demand decreased. This led to a slump in the oil refining industry as well, but is expected to recover in 2021 and post a CAGR of around 1.25% between 2020 – 2025. The biggest oil refinery markets are Asia Pacific and of course, the Middle East whose entire wealth is based on the vast oil reserves. Asia Pacific is still the biggest market with the capacity of around 100 million barrels every single day and 35% of the global capacity, which is why you will not be surprised to find out the the two biggest oil companies in the world belong to China. It is not surprising the most of the biggest oil companies in the world are in our list too, since these companies are often engaged in all parts of the global oil industry supply chain which includes oil refining as well. These are some of the biggest companies in the world heading into 2021 and together, have a combined revenue of more than $2.7 trillion, profits of over $102 billion, and assets of nearly $3.6 trillion. These companies also provide direct employment to at least 3.2 million people and indirectly to millions more. To calculate our rankings, we have taken the average of the revenues, assets, profits and employees, with all of the data being taken from the Fortune 500 list. So let’s take a look at the biggest companies responsible for the global supply of oil, starting with number 15:
Total revenue of the company in 2019 (in billions of dollars): 79,513
Total profit of the company in 2019 (in billions of dollars): 166
Total assets of the company in 2019 (in billions of dollars): 138,549
Total employees of the company in 2019: 32,053
ENI is an Italian company which is considered on of the seven ‘supermajor’ oil companies in the world, and operates in 66 countries.