Dictionary of Energy - O


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Occupancy sensors: These are also known as "ultrasonic switchers." When movement is detected, the lights are turned on and remain on as long as there is movement in the room.

Ocean energy systems: Energy conversion technologies that harness the energy in tides, waves, and thermal gradients in the oceans.

Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC): The process or technologies for producing energy by harnessing the temperature differences (thermal gradients) between ocean surface waters and that of ocean depths. Warm surface water is pumped through an evaporator containing a working fluid in a closed Rankine-cycle system. The vaporized fluid drives a turbine/generator.

Octane: A flammable liquid hydrocarbon found in petroleum. Used as a standard to measure the anti-knock properties of motor fuel.

Octane rating: A number used to indicate gasoline's antiknock performance in motor vehicle engines. The two recognized laboratory engine test methods for determining the antiknock rating, i.e., octane rating, of gasolines are the Research method and the Motor method. To provide a single number as guidance to the consumer, the antiknock index (R + M)/2, which is the average of the Research and Motor octane numbers, was developed.

OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer.

Off-highway use: Includes petroleum products sales for use in:

  1. Construction. Construction equipment including earthmoving equipment, cranes, stationary generators, air compressors, etc.
  2. Other. Sales for off-highway uses other than construction. Sales for logging are included in this category. Volumes for off-highway use by the agriculture industry are reported under "Farm Use" (which includes sales for use in tractors, irrigation pumps, other agricultural machinery, etc.)

Off-hours equipment reduction: A conservation feature where there is a change in the temperature setting or reduction in the use of heating, cooling, domestic hot water heating, lighting or any other equipment either manually or automatically.

Off peak: Period of relatively low system demand. These periods often occur in daily, weekly, and seasonal patterns; these off-peak periods differ for each individual electric utility.

Off peak gas: Gas that is to be delivered and taken on demand when demand is not at its peak.

Off-system: Any point not on, or directly interconnected with, a transportation, storage, and/or distribution system operated by a natural gas company within a state.

Offshore: That geographic area that lies seaward of the coastline. In general, the coastline is the line of ordinary low water along with that portion of the coast that is in direct contact with the open sea or the line marking the seaward limit of inland water.
If a state agency uses a different basis for classifying onshore and offshore areas, the state classification should be used (e.g., Cook Inlet in Alaska is classified as offshore; for Louisiana, the coastline is defined as the Chapman Line, as modified by subsequent adjudication).

Offshore reserves and production: Unless otherwise dedicated, reserves and production that are in either state or Federal domains, located seaward of the coastline.

Offsite-produced energy for heat, power, and electricity generation: This measure of energy consumption, which is equivalent to purchased energy includes energy produced off-site and consumed onsite. It excludes energy produced and consumed onsite, energy used as raw material input, and electricity losses.

Offsystem (natural gas): Natural gas that is transported to the end user by the company making final delivery of the gas to the end user. The end user purchases the gas from another company, such as a producer or marketer, not from the delivering company (typically a local distribution company or a pipeline company).

Ohm: A measure of the electrical resistance of a material equal to the resistance of a circuit in which the potential difference of 1 volt produces a current of 1 ampere.

Ohm's Law: In a given electrical circuit, the amount of current in amperes is equal to the pressure in volts divided by the resistance, in ohms. The principle is named after the German scientist Georg Simon Ohm.

Oil: A mixture of hydrocarbons usually existing in the liquid state in natural underground pools or reservoirs. Gas is often found in association with oil. Also see Petroleum.

Oil company use: Includes sales to drilling companies, pipelines or other related oil companies not engaged in the selling of petroleum products. Includes fuel oil that was purchased or produced and used by company facilities for the operation of drilling equipment, other field or refinery operations, and space heating at petroleum refineries, pipeline companies, and oil-drilling companies. Oil used to bunker vessels is counted under vessel bunkering. Sales to other oil companies for field use are included, but sales for use as refinery charging stocks are excluded.

Oil reservoir: An underground pool of liquid consisting of hydrocarbons, sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen trapped within a geological formation and protected from evaporation by the overlying mineral strata.

Oil shale: A sedimentary rock containing kerogen, a solid organic material.

Oil stocks: Oil stocks include crude oil (including strategic reserves), unfinished oils, natural gas plant liquids, and refined petroleum products.

Oil well: A well completed for the production of crude oil from at least one oil zone or reservoir.

Oil well (casinghead) gas: Associated and dissolved gas produced along with crude oil from oil completions.

Old field: A field discovered prior to the report year.

Old reservoir: A reservoir discovered prior to the report year.

On-highway use (diesel): Includes sales for use in motor vehicles. Volumes used by companies in the marketing and distribution of petroleum products are also included.

On peak: Periods of relatively high system demand. These periods often occur in daily, weekly, and seasonal patterns; these on-peak periods differ for each individual electric utility.

On-system: Any point on or directly interconnected with a transportation, storage, or distribution system operated by a natural gas company.

On-system sales: Sales to customers where the delivery point is a point on, or directly interconnected with, a transportation, storage, and/or distribution system operated by the reporting company.

One sun: Natural solar insulation falling on an object without concentration or diffusion of the solar rays.

One-time fee: The fee assessed a nuclear utility for spent nuclear fuel (SNF) or solidified high-level radioactive waste derived from SNF, which fuel was used to generate electricity in a civilian nuclear power reactor prior to April 7, 1983, and which is assessed by applying industry-wide average dollar-per-kilogram charges to four distinct ranges of fuel burnup so that equivalent to an industry-wide average charge of 1.0 mill per kilowatthour.

Onsite transportation: The direct nonprocess end use that includes energy used in vehicles and transportation equipment that primarily consume energy within the boundaries of the establishment. Energy used in vehicles that are found primarily offsite, such as delivery trucks, is not measured by the MECS (an EIA survey).

Onsystem (natural gas): Natural gas that is sold (and transported) to the end user by the company making final delivery of the gas to the end user. Companies that make final delivery of natural gas are typically local distribution companies or pipeline companies.

OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries): An intergovernmental organization whose stated objective is to coordinate and unify petroleum policies among member countries. It was created at the Baghdad Conference on September 10–14, 1960, by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The five founding members were later joined by nine other members: Qatar (1961); Indonesia (1962); Libya (1962); United Arab Emirates (1967); Algeria (1969); Nigeria (1971); Ecuador (1973–1992); Gabon (1975–1994) and Angola (2007).

Open access: A regulatory mandate to allow others to use a utility's transmission and distribution facilities to move bulk power from one point to another on a nondiscriminatory basis for a cost-based fee.

Open market coal: Coal is sold in the open market, i.e., coal sold to companies other than the reporting company's parent company or an operating subsidiary of the parent company.

Open refrigeration unit: Refrigeration in cabinets (units) without covers or with flexible covers made of plastic or some other material, hung in strips or curtains (fringed material, usually plastic, that push aside like a bead curtain). Flexible covers stop the flow of warm air into the refrigerated space.

Operable capacity: The amount of capacity that, at the beginning of the period, is in operation; not in operation and not under active repair, but capable of being placed in operation within 30 days; or not in operation but under active repair that can be completed within 90 days. Operable capacity is the sum of the operating and idle capacity and is measured in barrels per calendar day or barrels per stream day.

Operable generators/units: Electric generators or generating units that are available to provide power to the grid or generating units that have been providing power to the grid but are temporarily shut down. This includes units in standby status, units out of service for an indefinite period, and new units that have their construction complete and are ready to provide test generation. A nuclear unit is operable once it receives its Full Power Operating License.

Operable nuclear unit (U.S.): A U.S. nuclear generating unit that has completed low-power testing and is in possession of a full-power operating license issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Operable nuclear unit (foreign): A nuclear generating unit outside the United States that generates electricity for a grid.

Operable refineries: Refineries that were in one of the following three categories at the beginning of a given year: in operation; not in operation and not under active repair, but capable of being placed into operation within 30 days; or not in operation, but under active repair that could be completed within 90 days.

Operable unit: A unit available to provide electric power to the grid. See definition for operating unit below.

Operable utilization rate: Represents the use of the atmospheric crude oil distillation units. The rate is calculated by dividing the gross input to these units by the operable refining capacity of the units.

Operated: Exercised management responsibility for the day-to-day operations of natural gas production, gathering, treating, processing, transportation, storage, and/or distribution facilities and/or a synthetic natural gas plant.

Operating capacity: The component of operable capacity that is in operation at the beginning of the period.

Operating day: A normal business day. Days when a company conducts business due to emergencies or other unexpected events are not included.

Operating expenses: Segment expenses related both to revenue from sales to unaffiliated customers and revenue from intersegment sales or transfers, excluding loss on disposition of property, plant, and equipment; interest expenses and financial charges; foreign currency translation effects; minority interest; and income taxes.

Operating income: Operating revenues less operating expenses. Excludes items of other revenue and expense, such as equity in earnings of unconsolidated affiliates, dividends, interest income and expense, income taxes, extraordinary items, and cumulative effects of accounting changes.

Operating revenues: Segment revenues both from sales to unaffiliated customers (i.e., revenue from customers outside the enterprise as reported in the company's consolidated income statement) and from intersegment sales or transfers, if any, of product and services similar to those sold to unaffiliated customers, excluding equity in earnings of unconsolidated affiliates; dividend and interest income; gain on disposition of property, plant, and equipment; and foreign currency translation effects.

Operating subsidiary: Company that operates a coal mining operation and is owned by another company (i.e., the parent company).

Operating unit: A unit that is in operation at the beginning of the reporting period.

Operating utilization rate: Represents the use of the atmospheric crude oil distillation units. The rate is calculated by dividing the gross input to these units by the operating refining capacity of the units.

Operator, gas plant: The person responsible for the management and day-to-day operation of one or more natural gas processing plants as of December 31 of the report year. The operator is generally a working-interest owner or a company under contract to the working-interest owner(s). Plants shut down during the report year are also to be considered "operated" as of December 31.

Operator, oil and/or gas well: The person responsible for the management and day-to-day operation of one or more crude oil and/or natural gas wells as of December 31 of the report year. The operator is generally a working-interest owner or a company under contract to the working-interest owner(s). Wells included are those that have proved reserves of crude oil, natural gas, and/or lease condensate in the reservoirs associated with them, whether or not they are producing. Wells abandoned during the report year are also to be considered "operated" as of December 31.

Optional delivery commitment: A provision to allow the conditional purchase or sale of a specific quantity of material in addition to the firm quantity in the contract.

Order: A ruling issued by a utility commission granting or denying an application in whole or in part. The order explains the basis for the decision, noting any dispute with the factual assertions of the applicant. Also applied to a final regulation of a utility commission.

Organic content: The share of a substance that is of animal or plant origin.

Organic waste: Waste material of animal or plant origin.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): An international organization helping governments tackle the economic, social and governance challenges of a globalized economy. Its membership comprises about 30 member countries. With active relationships with some 70 other countries, NGOs and civil society, it has a global reach. For details about the organization, visit http://www.oecd.org.

Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC): See “OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries)

Original cost: The initial amount of money spent to acquire an asset. It is equal to the price paid, or present value of the liability incurred, or fair value of stock issued, plus normal incidental costs necessary to put the asset into its initial use.

Original equipment manufacturer(OEM): A company that provides the original design and materials for manufacture and engages in the assembly of vehicles. The OEM is directly responsible for manufacturing, marketing, and providing warranties for the finished product.

Original equipment manufacturer vehicle: A vehicle produced and marketed by an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), including gasoline and diesel vehicles as well as alternative-fuel vehicles. A vehicle manufactured by an OEM but converted to an alternative-fuel vehicle before its initial delivery to an end-user (for example, through a contract between a conversion company and the OEM) is considered to be an OEM vehicle as long as that vehicle is still covered under the OEM's warranty.

Other: The "other" category is defined as representing electricity consumers not elsewhere classified. This category includes public street and highway lighting service, public authority service to public authorities, railroad and railway service, and interdepartmental services.

Other capital costs: Costs for items or activities not included elsewhere under capital-cost tabulations, such as for and decommissioning, dismantling, and reclamation.

Other demand-side management (DSM) assistance programs: A DSM program assistance that includes alternative-rate, fuel-switching, and any other DSM assistance programs that are offered to consumers to encourage their participation in DSM programs.

Other end users: For motor gasoline, all direct sales to end users other than those made through company outlets. For No. 2 distillate, all direct sales to end users other than residential, commercial/institutional, industrial sales, and sales through company outlets. Included in the "other end users" category are sales to utilities and agricultural users.

Other energy operations: Energy operations not included under Petroleum or Coal. "Other energy" includes nuclear, oil shale, tar sands, coal liquefaction and gasification, geothermal, solar, and other forms of onconventional energy.

Other finished: Motor gasoline not included in the oxygenated or reformulated gasoline categories.

Other gas: Includes manufactured gas, coke-oven gas, blast-furnace gas, and refinery gas. Manufactured gas is obtained by distillation of coal, by the thermal decomposition of oil, or by the reaction of steam passing through a bed of heated coal or coke.

Other generation: Electricity originating from these sources: biomass, fuel cells, geothermal heat, solar power, waste, wind, and wood.

Other hydrocarbons: Materials received by a refinery and consumed as a raw material. Includes hydrogen, coal tar derivatives, gilsonite, and natural gas received by the refinery for reforming into hydrogen. Natural gas to be used as fuel is excluded.

Other industrial plant: Industrial users, not including coke plants, engaged in the mechanical or chemical transformation of materials or substances into new products (manufacturing); and companies engaged in the agriculture, mining, or construction industries.

Other load management: Demand-Side Management (DSM) program other than Direct Load Control and Interruptible Load that limits or shifts peak load from on-peak to off-peak time periods. It includes technologies that primarily shift all or part of a load from one time-of-day to another and secondarily may have an impact on energy consumption. Examples include space heating and water heating storage systems, cool storage systems, and load limiting devices in energy management systems. This category also includes programs that aggressively promote time-of-use rates and other innovative rates such as real time pricing. These rates are intended to reduce consumer bills and shift hours of operation of equipment from on-peak to off-peak periods through the application of time-differentiated rates.

Other oils equal to or greater than 401 degrees Fahrenheit: Oils with a boiling range equal to or greater than 401 degrees Fahrenheit that are intended for use as a petrochemical feedstock.

Other operating costs: Costs for other items or activities not included elsewhere in operating-cost tabulations, but required to support the calculation of a cutoff grade for ore reserves estimation.

Other oxygenates: Other aliphatic alcohols and aliphatic ethers intended for motor gasoline blending (e.g., isopropyl ether (IPE) or n-propanol).

Other power producers: Independent power producers that generate electricity and cogeneration plants that are not included in the other industrial, coke and commercial sectors.

Other refiners: Refiners with a total refinery capacity in the United States and its possessions of less than 275,000 barrels per day as of January 1, 1982.

Other service to public authorities: Electricity supplied to municipalities, divisions or agencies of state or Federal governments, under special contracts or agreements or service classifications applicable only to public authorities.

Other single-unit truck: A motor vehicle consisting primarily of a single motorized device with more than two axles or more than four tires.

Other supply contracts: Any contracted gas supply other than owned reserves, producer-contracted reserves, and interstate pipeline purchases that are used for acts and services for which the company has received certificate authorization from FERC. Purchases from intrastate pipelines pursuant to Section 311(b) of the NGPA of 1978 are included with other supply contracts.

Other trucks/vans: Those trucks and vans that weigh more than 8,500 lbs GVW.

Other unavailable capability: Net capability of main generating units that are unavailable for load for easons other than full-forced outage or scheduled maintenance. Legal restrictions or other causes make these units unavailable.

Outage: The period during which a generating unit, transmission line, or other facility is out of service.

Outer Continental Shelf: Offshore Federal domain.

Output: The amount of power or energy produced by a generating unit, station, or system.

Oven: An appliance that is an enclosed compartment supplied with heat and used for cooking food. Toaster ovens are not considered ovens. The range stove top or burners and the oven are considered two separate appliances, although they are often purchased as one appliance.

Overburden: Any material, consolidated or unconsolidated, that overlies a coal deposit.

Overburden ratio: Overburden ratio refers to the amount of overburden that must be removed to excavate a given quantity of coal. It is commonly expressed in cubic yards per ton of coal, but is sometimes expressed as a ratio comparing the thickness of the overburden with the thickness of the coalbed.

Owned reserves: Any reserve of natural gas that the reporting company owns as a result of oil and gas leases, fee-mineral ownership, royalty reservations, or lease or royalty reservations and assignments committed to services under certificate authorizations by FERC. Company-owned recoverable natural gas in underground storage is classified as owned reserves.

Owned/rented: (As used in EIA's consumption surveys.) The relationship of a housing unit's occupants to the structure itself, not the land on which the structure is located. "Owned" means the owner or co-owner is a member of the household and the housing unit is either fully paid for or mortgaged. A household is classified "rented" even if the rent is paid by someone not living in the unit. "Rent-free" means the unit is not owned or being bought and no money is paid or contracted for rent. Such units are usually provided in exchange for services rendered or as an allowance or favor from a relative or friend not living in the unit. Unless shown separately, rent-free households are grouped with rented households.

Owner occupied: (As used in EIA's consumption surveys.) Having the owner or the owner's business represented at the site. A building is considered owner occupied if an employee or representative of the owner (such as a building engineer or building manager) maintains office space in the building. Similarly, a chain store is considered owner occupied even though the actual owner may not be in the building but headquartered elsewhere. Other examples of the owner's business occupying a building include State-owned university buildings, elementary and secondary schools owned by a public school district, and a post office where the building is owned by the U.S. Postal Service.

Owners equity: Interest of the owners in the assets of the business represented by capital contributions and retained earnings.

Ownership: (See Owned/rented above.)

Ownership of building: (As used in EIA's consumption surveys.) The individual, agency, or organization that owns the building. For certain EIA consumption surveys, building ownership is grouped into the following categories: Federal, State, or local government agency; a privately owned utility company; a church, synagogue, or other religious group; or any other type of individual or group.

Overriding royalty: A royalty interest, in addition to the basic royalty, created out of the working interest; it is, therefore, limited in its duration to the life of the lease under which it is created.

Oxidize: To chemically transform a substance by combining it with oxygen.

Oxygenated gasoline: Finished motor gasoline, other than reformulated gasoline, having an oxygen content of 2.7 percent or higher by weight and required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be sold in areas designated by EPA as carbon monoxide (CO) nonattainment areas. See Nonattainment area. Note: Oxygenated gasoline excludes oxygenated fuels program reformulated gasoline (OPRG) and reformulated gasoline blendstock for oxygenate blending (RBOB). Data on gasohol that has at least 2.7 percent oxygen, by weight, and is intended for sale inside CO nonattainment areas are included in data on oxygenated gasoline. Other data on gasohol are included in data on conventional gasoline.

Oxygenated gasoline (includes Gasohol): Finished motor gasoline, other than reformulated gasoline, having an oxygen content of 2.7 percent or higher by weight. Includes gasohol. Note: Oxygenated gasoline excludes oxygenated fuels program reformulated gasoline (OPRG) and reformulated gasoline blendstock for oxygenate blending (RBOB).

Oxygenates: Substances which, when added to gasoline, increase the amount of oxygen in that gasoline blend. Ethanol, Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE), Ethyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (ETBE), and methanol are common oxygenates.

Ozone: A molecule made up of three atoms of oxygen. Occurs naturally in the stratosphere and provides a protective layer shielding the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation. In the troposphere, it is a chemical oxidant, a greenhouse gas, and a major component of photochemical smog.

Ozone precursors: Chemical compounds, such as carbon monoxide, methane, nonmethane hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides, which in the presence of solar radiation react with other chemical compounds to form ozone.

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