Petroleum refining industry in the United States is the largest in the world operating 148 refineries. These refineries contribute a major economic value to the U.S. market for providing the chemical industry with vital products. The economic gain, however, is challenged by the increasing competitiveness within the refining sector as well as the unpredictable oil prices. Furthermore, environmental obligations also have been recently advocating low emission rates that may entail additional operating costs to refineries. In this study, we analyze hydrogen production and utilization in the U.S. oil and gas industry to characterize its key role and trends in this energy-intensive industry. We referred to U.S. Department of Energy data and statistics of hydrogen production rates as well as we considered other elementary factors of refineries productivity such as; economics of crude oil, power consumption and chemical outputs. Considering the fact that hydrogen-dependent processes in refining count as a key element in oil refining; it is certainly that efficient production and implementation of hydrogen in processes such as hydro-cracking and hydro-desulfurization will result in cost saving opportunities for refineries. From this point of view, we highlight the economic and environmental advantages of solar cracking of natural gas as an alternative way of hydrogen production. Hydrogen production in refineries could possibly benefit from utilizing this alternative method on both local and global levels. Economically, this study explains how solar cracking could save about $62 million in hydrogen production for U.S. refineries. Even though the momentum of desulfurization acts are not yet strong in the U.S., major European refining investments are in jeopardy if not soon to utilize enhanced desulfurization facilities in response to demands of lower sulfur content of refined products. A comprehensive expenditures model is presented in this study to monitor primary areas of saving in hydrogen production from the early stages of establishing a hydrogen production plant. Further alternatives showing potential are also included as future considerations for the refinery sector.

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