The Miracle of Oil Production

Gasoline costs less than bottled water at your local service station, but look at what it takes to produce it:

Here is an offshore oil platform being towed out to sea.  As huge as it is, its height is nothing compared to the depth and reach of the network of wells that were drilled from it.


And here is a refinery where the oil is processed into gasoline and other products.  This happens to be the Exxon refinery in Baytown, where I had my first job out of college


I am pretty sure this is Pipestill (distillation tower) #8.   If so, I have climbed through every inch of the tall tower on the left


Here is bottled water production in comparison


  1. Brennan:

    This is an interesting discussion. We often talk about things government does poorly, but providing safe drinking water is something LOCAL government has done quite well for generations. Yet marketing forces (and ignorance) have caused people to eschew safe tap water for over-priced bottled water. Gasoline is much more expensive to produce, yet bottled water costs more per consumer unit. Insanity!

  2. J K Brown:

    Almost all quality tap water is provided by private utility companies. Local government water is what Flint, MI had.

    But tap water is processed for sanitation and some taste, but is dependent upon the pipes and distance that impact taste. If your local tap water comes form a river, then that river is the sewage outfall for cities upstream. Bottled water can be filtered from natural high quality sources, even have taste improved by additives, things you don't need for shower, toilet and other non-internal water uses.

  3. Brennan:

    Good point about private sourcing of tap water. Yet all such are heavily regulated by local governments. In other words, your safe tap water is a "government-owned" single source. Not a defense of government ownership, just a recognition of reality.

  4. brandonberg:

    To be fair, most of the cost of bottled water is probably stuff like the bottle, shelf space, and fixed transaction costs. I used to buy water at a store where you bring in your own bottle to fill, and it was much cheaper than buying it by the pint. Something like 50 cents per gallon. Totally worth it, since my tap water tasted bad.

  5. Daniel Barger:

    Comparing the cost of bottled water to gasoline does nothing but display how stupid the typical consumer is. Smart people don't pay the retail price for bottled water....if they buy it at all they buy it in bulk, by the case. And even then they realize they are doing it for convenience, not for economy. There's a reason that the label on a bottle of Evian is
    NAIVE spelled backwards.

  6. irandom419:

    Also an example of turning something once considered a detriment, into a plus.