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The term BBL or bbl is frequently used as the unit of volume for crude oil and products. It refers to 42 U.S. gallons at standard conditions. But why bbl why not just bl? Where did that second b come from? I have been in the business 40 years and I just found out yesterday. Am I the last person to find out?

HAZOP at www.curryhydrocarbons.ca


I think so.

if you look at any unit system or any software to change unit from british to us unit, you will find bbl.

did you hare about PPM ????


BBL is short for Standard Oil Blue Barrel. In the early days of the oil industry they used all kinds of barrels like whisky barrels, and wine barrels, so people did not know how much oil they would get when they bought a hundred barrels of oil. So John D Rockefeller set the standard of 42 us gallons for Standard Oil Company barrels. He painted them blue, hence Blue BarreLs, hence BBL.

HAZOP at www.curryhydrocarbons.ca


WELL...Rockefeller may have "indirectly" set the standard as 42 gal.s, BUT only because the standard large container of the time was a pickle barrel! AND coincidently it had a volume of 42 gal.s ...Not sure WHY I know this! *L*   ...Mark


For those interested in metric equivalents, as shown in Perry VI,

1 Bbl = 42 USG = 158.9873 L
1 USG = 3.785412 L


The "bbl" did originate with Rockerfeller.  Because of fraud and the different size of available barrels, he painted his barrels blue and certified that his blue barrels always had 42 gallons of oil in them.

Because he ruled the transportation part of the oil business in the early days, bbl became the standard measurement.

I reviewed sources of this information in my monthly column at Hydrocarbon Processing magazine, the July 2002 issue.

Bill Crowley
Contributing Editor


WRC, thanks for that HP article. I was really amazed that I had not come across that fact along the way.

HAZOP at www.curryhydrocarbons.ca

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