The Business Times

How much oil is needed to power Santa's sleigh?

Published Wed, Dec 23, 2015 · 09:50 PM
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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 analogue 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 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. One 42 gallon barrel of oil is typically used to make a variety of different products. About 51 per cent of the average barrel ends up being used for petrol, while 12 per cent ends up being used for jet fuel. Let's assume then that Santa's going to use standard jet fuel, and that the 12 per cent ratio holds - so for each gallon of jet fuel, we need around eight gallons of oil. Recognising 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.

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