First Advisor

Thomas Harvey

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geography






Petroleum -- Oregon -- Transportation, Petroleum industry and trade -- Oregon, Oil spills -- Oregon



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, ix, 102 p.)


Since no local crude oil sources exist, every drop of petroleum consumed in Oregon originates from outside sources and is distributed multi-modally to consumers. As population continues to increase and oil sources dwindle, this reliance may add financial and environmental risks to Oregonian' s quality of life. This paper examines Oregon's oil distribution system, and analyzes the risks oil movements pose in the state. A comprehensive understanding of oil distribution in Oregon can best be gained geographically. Pipelines, ships, barges, railroads and trucks play different roles in this system, yet data for these transport modes are maintained by different groups and unstandardized. Therefore, the data must be normalized to present a map of how oil is being moved around the state. This study sets all levels to a barrels (42 U.S. gallons) per month (assumed 30 days) standard. Oil's role in the economy of our state, most noticeably in the sale of motor gasoline, creates different types of risk. The most obvious risk results from transportation, and Oregon is plagued daily by unintended releases. A second type of risk, supply risk, exists because of our reliance on the petroleum networks of Alaska, Washington and California, and was evident during the 1974 oil embargo. Lastly, economic risk should theoretically be present since Oregon is a downstream consumer from adjacent states. During times of shortages, Oregon should be at the mercy of those who provide its supply. The data do not support this, but suggest that oil is purely a global commodity, and price and supply are determined worldwide in response to typical marketing forces. The distribution systems detailed herein are dynamic, and outside forces such as the proposed export of Alaskan crude oil, the increased exploration of offshore oil fields, and the development of a cross-Cascades pipeline may alter this scheme. Oregonians can ensure the most effective petroleum distribution systems only by understanding them and their associated risks.


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