• 12 hours Oil Pares Gains After API Reports Surprise Crude Inventory Build
  • 13 hours Elon Musk Won’t Get Paid Unless Tesla Does “Extraordinarily Well”
  • 13 hours U.S. Regulators Keep Keystone Capacity Capped At 80 Percent
  • 14 hours Trump Signs Off On 30 Percent Tariff On Imported Solar Equipment
  • 16 hours Russian Funds May Invest In Aramco’s IPO To Boost Oil Ties
  • 17 hours IMF Raises Saudi Arabia Growth Outlook On Higher Oil Prices
  • 18 hours China Is World’s Number-2 In LNG Imports
  • 1 day EIA Weekly Inventory Data Due Wednesday, Despite Govt. Shutdown
  • 1 day Oklahoma Rig Explodes, Leaving Five Missing
  • 1 day Lloyd’s Sees No Room For Coal In New Investment Strategy
  • 2 days Gunmen Kidnap Nigerian Oil Workers In Oil-Rich Delta Area
  • 2 days Libya’s NOC Restarts Oil Fields
  • 2 days US Orion To Develop Gas Field In Iraq
  • 4 days U.S. On Track To Unseat Saudi Arabia As No.2 Oil Producer In the World
  • 4 days Senior Interior Dept. Official Says Florida Still On Trump’s Draft Drilling Plan
  • 4 days Schlumberger Optimistic In 2018 For Oilfield Services Businesses
  • 4 days Only 1/3 Of Oil Patch Jobs To Return To Canada After Downturn Ends
  • 5 days Statoil, YPF Finalize Joint Vaca Muerta Development Deal
  • 5 days TransCanada Boasts Long-Term Commitments For Keystone XL
  • 5 days Nigeria Files Suit Against JP Morgan Over Oil Field Sale
  • 5 days Chinese Oil Ships Found Violating UN Sanctions On North Korea
  • 5 days Oil Slick From Iranian Tanker Explosion Is Now The Size Of Paris
  • 5 days Nigeria Approves Petroleum Industry Bill After 17 Long Years
  • 5 days Venezuelan Output Drops To 28-Year Low In 2017
  • 6 days OPEC Revises Up Non-OPEC Production Estimates For 2018
  • 6 days Iraq Ready To Sign Deal With BP For Kirkuk Fields
  • 6 days Kinder Morgan Delays Trans Mountain Launch Again
  • 6 days Shell Inks Another Solar Deal
  • 6 days API Reports Seventh Large Crude Draw In Seven Weeks
  • 6 days Maduro’s Advisors Recommend Selling Petro At Steep 60% Discount
  • 7 days EIA: Shale Oil Output To Rise By 1.8 Million Bpd Through Q1 2019
  • 7 days IEA: Don’t Expect Much Oil From Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Before 2030
  • 7 days Minister Says Norway Must Prepare For Arctic Oil Race With Russia
  • 7 days Eight Years Late—UK Hinkley Point C To Be In Service By 2025
  • 7 days Sunk Iranian Oil Tanker Leave Behind Two Slicks
  • 7 days Saudi Arabia Shuns UBS, BofA As Aramco IPO Coordinators
  • 7 days WCS-WTI Spread Narrows As Exports-By-Rail Pick Up
  • 7 days Norway Grants Record 75 New Offshore Exploration Leases
  • 7 days China’s Growing Appetite For Renewables
  • 8 days Chevron To Resume Drilling In Kurdistan
Alt Text

Iraq Is Troubling The Oil Majors

Oil majors are divided on…

Alt Text

5 Energy Sector Predictions For 2018

The energy recovery is well…

Alt Text

Has Oil Become Overbought?

As oil prices continue their…

Michael McDonald

Michael McDonald

Michael is an assistant professor of finance and a frequent consultant to companies regarding capital structure decisions and investments. He holds a PhD in finance…

More Info

How Much Oil Is Needed To Power Santa’s Sleigh?

How Much Oil Is Needed To Power Santa’s Sleigh?

Every year around the world, hundreds of millions of children wait anxiously for Santa Claus to arrive and bring presents and good cheer. But what if Santa never came? What if this year the reindeer all fall ill, perhaps due to Crazy Reindeer disease (the analog to Mad Cow) and Santa is forced to cancel Christmas? The result would be devastating.

Fortunately, for any children reading, official word from the North Pole is that Santa’s sleigh has some new upgrades this year that allow it to run on good old fashioned jet fuel if the reindeer fail. And with the current glut of oil around the world, fuel prices are so affordable that even if the reindeer are feeling up to their usual task, Old Saint Nick might just give them the night off and choose to fly with fuel nonetheless.

So how much oil does Santa need for his rounds on the night of the 24th?

Well the answer is complicated by a number of factors most importantly, we just don’t know a lot of about Santa’s rounds, the shape of the sleigh, the air speed of the craft, or the weight of all those presents. But, we can take some educated guesses. Related: How Far Will Oil Sink Before Christmas?

One 42 gallon barrel of oil is typically used to make a variety of different products. About 51 percent of the average barrel ends up being used for gasoline, while 12 percent ends up being used for jet fuel. Let’s assume then that Santa’s going to use standard jet fuel, and that 12 percent ratio holds – so for each gallon of jet fuel, we need around 8 gallons of oil. Recognizing that the byproducts of a processed barrel of oil are greater than the original 42 gallons, this 2:1 ratio is still a good place to start as a rough rule of thumb.

Next we need to get a rough idea of Santa’s fuel economy. How many miles does he go on a gallon of jet fuel? It’s not clear how much Santa’s sleigh weighs, or what it is shaped like, but we can probably envision it as something like a cross between a Suburban, a C-5 Galaxy fright aircraft, and an F-22 Raptor fighter jet. The sleigh looks blocky like a Suburban, carries about the same level of cargo as much as C-5 might, yet has the speed of a fighter jet. The fighter jet and c-5 achieve a fuel economy around the range of 0.1 miles per gallon to 0.5 miles per gallon. A 747 for instance burns around 5 gallons of fuel per mile. Related: The End Of The Oil Major?

But of course, those aircraft are all much larger than Santa’s sleigh. (Imagine poor Rudolph trying to pull a Dreamliner!) A Lear Jet uses around 1 gallon of fuel per 2.75 miles (based on a speed of 465 knots or 535 miles per hour). A Piper Cub uses about 1 gallon per 15 miles. Santa’s fuel economy is going to fall off the faster he goes, and to get to all the children of the world in one night, he is going to need to go a lot more than the Piper cub’s 65 knots per hour. Just to take off, Santa is going to need to hit about 180 miles an hour, and probably more than that given the sleigh designer’s seem to have a weak grasp on Bernoulli’s principle. Thus the Suburban is probably a good size comparison for Santa’s sleigh, and one might estimate the sleigh gets about 5 miles to 1 gallon of jet fuel (8 gallons of oil).

Now how far does Santa need to go? There are around 7.3 billion people in the world, which works out to around 1.5 billion households around the planet based on around 5 people per household. Now not everyone celebrates Christmas of course, but many Christians and non-Christians alike do. By some estimates, perhaps 45% of the world’s population celebrates Christmas. That means that Santa needs to visit about 675 million households. With about 7 households per square mile, and assuming that households celebrating Christmas are clustered (which seems logical given religious clustering), that means that Santa has to cover around 94 million square miles of households. Related: Is The Oil And Gas Fire Sale About To Start?

The most efficient mechanism for Santa to cover these households is a very complex mathematical problem. But assuming Santa wants to fly diagonally over each square mile (for a distance of 1.41 miles based on the Pythagorean Theorem), and households are on average distributed proportionally across this each 1 mile block, then Santa will have to fly over 2.41 miles of ground to cover each square mile as efficiently as possible. (You can use a variety of mathematical algorithms to model the most efficient flight path depending on population dispersion – this is just a reasonable approximation based on the assumptions outlined above).

As a result, Santa needs to travel around 226 million miles to deliver all of the presents to the world’s children. This assumes minimal idle time on each rooftop (he’s got to scarf down those cookies quickly), and abstracts away from the extra fuel needed for each takeoff.

Given our 5 miles per gallon of jet fuel efficiency calculated above, that means Santa needs around 45 million gallons of jet fuel for his annual voyage. With jet fuel going for around $1.20 a gallon right now on the spot market, and prices looking historically low, this puts the total fuel cost of Santa’s journey at a bit less than $54 million for one night. On second thought, maybe it’s time to break out the hay for those 8 reindeer.

By Michael McDonald of Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Back to homepage


Leave a comment
  • Jhm on December 17 2015 said:
    Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa, and the magic that powers his sleigh is as renewable as joy in a child's heart.
  • Eric Marsh on December 18 2015 said:
    Aerodynamic drag squares every time that speed doubles. If Santa is going to cover 226 million miles in 24 hours that's an average speed of close to 10,000,000 mph without even including stop time to drop of presents. What about return trips to fill his bag up again? A Ford explorer has a coefficient of drag at about .43. Figuring a frontal area of Santa's sleigh at about 20 square feet the horsepower loss works out to (CD*A*V^3)/150000 or (.43*20*9416666)/150000. So it will take about 5,083,953,703 horsepower to push the sleigh. That's about 678 times the power of a Saturn 5 rocket engine. The Saturn 5 burns 15 tons of kerosene per second. So scaling up for Santa's requirements would give 10167 tons per second or 610000 tons of fuel per hour. At about 300 gallons per ton that would be 183006000 gallons per hour.
    Of course these are not exact figures.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News