Re: WWII oil transport

Kenneth Montero


This contemporaneous publication on World War II and rubber should be interesting:

Ken Montero

On 07/25/2022 11:16 PM Kenneth Montero <va661midlo@...> wrote:


For one of the reasons for gas rationing and rubber supply, see:

I stand partially corrected: (1) gasoline rationing to conserve rubber was only one of the reasons for gasoline rationing. (2) Also, much of the USA rubber supply came from Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), which also was taken captive in early 1942 by Japan.

East Coast refineries did have a petroleum shortage due to submarine attacks on coastal tankers,so east coast gasoline rationing occurred earlier than in other parts of the USA. That later was extended to other parts of the USA. Rubber conservation was one of the reasons, but not the only reason.

Gasoline rationing was not popular, and was imposed by the Roosevelt administration despite Congressional opposition:

Bruce, here is a good article about rationing evasion:

Ken Montero

On 07/25/2022 4:09 PM Bruce Smith <smithbf@...> wrote:


I do not believe that your understanding is correct. A number of years ago, Frank Peacock turned me on to the book “A History of the Petroleum Administration for War, 1941-1945”, published by the U.S. Petroleum Administration for War, Washington, 1946. It is an amazing book that clarifies, glorifies, and terrifies, sometime simultaneously. The motivations and policy decisions behind US petroleum production and allocation are discussed at length. While it has been a few years since I read it (cover to cover, I might add), my recollection is that refining capacity was specifically diverted to high octane aviation fuel, and what regular gasoline that was produced was focused on supplying the needs of the Armed Forces (especially the Army). In general, the Army selected gasoline over diesel, while the Marine Corps, having diesel at hand in the ships delivering them to shore, chose diesel. This meant that there were domestic shortages of gasoline. Rubber was directly rationed, so there was no need for an indirect control.

BTW, in case you want to get all glassy eyed about “the greatest generation”, the book will help cure you of that as well. Humans (and Americans) will be what they are, and the lying cheating, and stealing around petroleum and petroleum rationing are well detailed.


Bruce Smith

Auburn, AL

From: <> on behalf of Kenneth Montero <va661midlo@...>
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Date: Monday, July 25, 2022 at 12:56 PM
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Subject: [EXT] Re: [RealSTMFC] WWII oil transport

CAUTION: Email Originated Outside of Auburn.



It is my understanding that the primary reason for gasoline rationing was not due to a shortage of gasoline, but due to a severe shortage of rubber for tires.


Prior to World War 2, almost all rubber came from Malayan (now Malaysian) rubber plantations. When Japanese forces captured this British colony shortly after Pearl Harbor, that source was cut off. Firestone had rubber plantations in Liberia, but were insufficient as a source of supply, and synthetic rubber capacity was very limited. To avoid running out of rubber, gasoline was rationed and speed limits reduced nationally to 45 MPH (along with rationing rubber tires) to restrict driving and, therefore, extend the life of tires, both already installed on motor vehicles and as replacement as tire wore out.


Others on this list may have more detailed information or corrections. If so, please share with us.


Ken Montero

On 07/25/2022 12:12 PM Tim O'Connor <timboconnor@...> wrote:

The U boat problem finally ended in 1943. That's when the rail numbers turned down.
But those two pipelines only reached NY metro not Baltimore or Norfolk or Jacksonville.
There were still refineries all over the place hundreds of miles away from a product pipeline
that could reach the east coast.

But I notice that the TOTAL in 1944 is only very slightly larger than it was in 1941. This
makes me think that more oil was being transported on ocean tankers from the Gulf to Europe
after 1943 thus slowing down the rate of increase to the US east coast.

The numbers also show a sharp decline overall in 1942 that lasted through 1943, indicating
that the railroads could not completely make up for the fall off in coastal shipping - Probably
due to a shortage of tank cars, at least at first. No wonder the country had gas rationing !

 On 7/24/2022 11:39 PM, Bruce Smith wrote:

Daily Deliveries of petroleum to the East Coast (in 1,000s of barrels)

           1941        1942        1943        1944        1945

Tankers(A) 1,421           391         160         276          451

Tank Cars      35          627         852         646         504

Pipeline       54          121         267         663         733

(Information from Tim Gilbert, summarizing American Wartime Transportation, by J.R. Rose)


So you can see that, while 1943 was the biggest year, 1944 deliveries still surpass 1942 and were more than 75% of 1943. Tank car deliveries declined further in 1945, but were still just under 60% of the high of 1943. So, while the "big inch" pipeline helped dramatically. the shipment of petroleum via rail car was still very common throughout the war.



Bruce Smith

Tim O'Connor
Sterling, Massachusetts

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