How much is oil worth?

June 3, 2009

back alley
Creative Commons License photo credit: tvol

Ever wonder how common items such as coffee, beer, or detergent compare to the price of oil? Don’t worry, I have already done the math for you. By breaking down the measurements into smaller units, you can compare the price of a glass of milk to a cup of oil, but I don’t recommend drinking it.

1 barrel of oil (bbl) contains 42 gallons.
1 gallon contains 16 cups.
Therefore, 1 barrel contains (42 * 16) = 672 cups.
If a barrel of oil today costs $68, then a cup of oil would come out to $0.10

That’s right; a nice cold glass of oil would only cost you 10 cents. Some of you coffee drinkers may notice that a Grande Latte from Starbucks, which contains about 2 cups of liquid, costs$3.10. The same amount of oil would be about 20 cents.
Lets take that a bit further. How much would a barrel of Grande Latte cost?
Remember that there are 672 cups of liquid in a barrel, and that a cup of Grande Latte is $1.55 a cup.

The cost of a barrel of Grande Latte (is it still a Grande if it is in a barrel?) = $1041.60. But think how long you could stay awake!

Grande Lattes not quite your cup of tea? Here is a list of the prices at Starbucks in case you don’t like lattes. 

Now let’s move on to something a little harder, and a little more alcoholic:

Beer provides more of a challenge because it does not come in gallons or cups, but in bottles measured in fluid ounces (fl.oz.).

In a six-pack there are 6 bottles of 12 fl.oz. each. If a six pack costs $8, then each bottle would cost $1.33 (cost of the six pack) /6 = per bottle price.

8 fl.oz. = 1 cup
If each bottle in a six pack has 12 fl.oz., then there are 72 fl.oz. of liquid. This comes out to 9 cups. At 8$ a sixpack, this comes out to just $0.11 per fl.oz. That means each cup of beer would cost 88 cents. That seems cheap compared to a Grande Latte at $1.55 a cup, but a bit pricy compared to oil at $0.10 a cup.

At $0.88 a cup, a barrel of beer would cost $591. For those of you interested:

2 percent milk by Anna Sattler
Creative Commons License photo credit: G & A Sattler

(672 * 8 = number of fl.oz in a barrel) / 12 fl.oz / bottle = the number of bottles in the barrel.
This means there are 448 bottles of beer in your $591 barrel of beer.

You can continue on with any number of liquids.  

Milk is an easy one to work with because it already comes in gallons.
If 1 gallon of milk is $2, then to get the price per barrel you simply multiply by 42, so milk comes out to be $84 per barrel.
You can go the other way and figure out that milk (16 cups in a gallon) costs $0.13 per cup.

I have included a few household items here for you to compare:

Grand Latte
Tide Detergent

Try these conversions with your other favorite liquids such as water, juice, shampoo and sun screen!

Authored By Daniel Burch

An inveterate punster, amateur chef, and fencer, Daniel B has a double degree in History and Museum Science from Baylor. He currently serves as the Assistant Program Coordinator for the Wiess Energy Hall and Adult Education at HMNS.

2 responses to “How much is oil worth?”

  1. Lyndell says:

    How much per serving or use size?

  2. Daniel B says:

    A per serving size can vary depending on item.

    A Grande Latté is one serving with 188 calories. So that’s 1 serving (2 cups or 16 fl.oz.) for $3.10

    A bottle of Beer is 1 serving of 12 fl.oz. with 150 calories for $1.33

    In a gallon of milk there are 16 serving of 8 fl.oz. each with 91 calories for $0.13

    In Coca cola 1 serving can is 12 fl.oz. with 140 calories for $.36

    Nyquil dose is 1 fl.oz. for $0.75

    Tide Detergent is 1.5 fl.oz. for each load for $0.30

    Listerine is 1 fl.oz. for $0.25

    And crude oil?

    You can’t do much with unrefined crude oil, but if you turn into other products, like gasoline.

    You get 19.15 gallons of gasoline from 1 barrel of crude oil or about 45% of a barrel of crude oil

    (See the DoE’s EIA )

    1 gallon of gasoline is about $2.40

    So if you drive about 7 miles to work or school (14 mile round trip)and your car gets about 25 miles per gallon, then you use .56 of a gallon (or 17360 calories). Then it would cost you $1.34 to get to and from school and you would have used 3% of the gasoline that comes out of 1 barrel of crude oil or 1% of a barrel of crude oil

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