The Complete Guide to Oil Processing in Factorio

Being able to break down crude oil into other products is vital to the game so here's how to do it!

Being able to break down crude oil into other products is vital to the game so here's how to do it!

Oil processing is one of the most important things you will have to learn in Factorio. It is a research on the game’s tech tree and a recipe that is used in the oil refinery — but it also produces an item that is widely used in all kinds of processes in the game.

Being able to process oil is a major part aspect of Factorio, so this guide is going to give you all the information you need to start oil processing — including what it is used for and where it’s featured in the game.

Oil refinery in the real world

Where Does Oil Processing Sit on the Factorio Tech Tree?

Oil processing is researched relatively early on in the game, as you are going to need it for a lot of things. It only requires you to research steel processing beforehand, but leads on to many other technologies.

You need oil processing to use: Basic Oil Processing, Chemical Plant, Lubricant, Oil Refinery, Pumpjack, and Solid Fuel from Heavy Oil, Light Oil, and Petroleum Gas.

Oil Processing research is needed to research: Advanced Oil Processing, Flammables, Plastics and Sulfuric Processing.

However, Oil processing is also needed to make Science Pack 3Factorio uses different tiers of science to gauge how far you have progressed through the game, and Science Pack 3 is the third science tier in the game. It introduces the aspect of laboratories in the game which is used to research advanced technologies.

In order to gain access to Science Pack 3, in addition to oil processing, you also need to have completed research in Sulfur Processing, Plastics, Fluid Handling, Advanced Oil Processing, Coal Liquefaction, Flammables and Flame Thrower.

How to Set Up Oil Processing in Factorio

The first thing you need to look at doing is making some Pumpjacks. These are what is used to extract crude oil from the oil fields. You are able to make them after you have researched the initial oil processing technology. Below is the recipe you need to make them.

There are two ways to then move the crude oil to where it is going to be stored/used. You can either make sure that you have a good layout of pipes to transport it or make sure that you have an operational railway/transport network to move the barrels of crude oil. Barrels are useable thanks to the Fluid Handling technology.

The crude oil then makes its way to an Oil Refinery which will require you to have already set up an Electric Network to make it work. An oil refinery produces three outputs — Heavy Oil, Light Oil, and Petroleum Gas. You will need to set which recipe the refinery is going to use so that you know how much crude oil and other raw materials you will be needing.

Make sure you have somewhere for your products to go, as the oil refinery can stop working if there is a backlog. Storage Tanks are also available through Fluid Handling.

Heavy oil and light oil can then be taken to a chemical plant to be broken down to other materials and used in manufacturing substances such as sulfuric acid

On a side note, crude oil itself can also be used as ammo for one of the game’s initial defense systems — Flamethrower TurretsFactorio has a unique combat system which isn’t generally seen in games of this genre, but this will be covered in future guides.

An example of how combat looks in-game

We hope that this look at oil processing and how oil is used in Factorio has given you some idea of how it works how to progress to the next level. Make sure you check out our other Factorio guides for more help with the game.

About the author


It all started with an Atari ST and here I am, all these years later, still loving video games! Indie games are where my heart is and where it'll stay. The world of indie video games is ever evolving and such an interesting arena to be a part of!