Oil is a major source of fuel for vehicles, homes, businesses, and industries. The world consumes about 4 million barrels per day (BPD) of oil. Countries in Asia lead the consumption list at around 250 million BPDs. On the other end of the spectrum are countries like Eritrea that consume only 2 thousand barrels per day (BPD). Other places including some parts of Europe have almost phased out the use of oil mainly because it is a non-renewable resource. As a result, solar energy has been playing a big role as a replacement for oil.
What is Oil?
Oil or petroleum is a naturally occurring viscous liquid consisting of hydrocarbons with many carbon atoms and small amounts of sulfur, nitrogen, and oxygen. Crude oil is a mixture of different types of hydrocarbons, mixed with impurities such as water, sand, and gum-like substances called asphaltite.
Types of Oil Extraction
Oil can be extracted from the ground by drilling through the earth’s crust. This method has been used since 1859 where James Miller was credited for drilling the first oil well in Titusville Pennsylvania. The second way to extract oil is to pump it out directly from reservoirs located deep within the earth’s surface. Thirdly, oil can be lifted out using natural pressure found 1 mile below the surface of the earth. This method is generally used offshore since there are restrictions on locating oil-producing wells near residential areas because of environmental hazards associated with its extraction. A fourth way to obtain the oil is to heat it in thin sheets of aluminum. A thin sheet of aluminum with oil found in the crevices will become liquid and rise causing reservoirs of oil underneath to flow out. This method can also be used in thin porous layers which are not commercially viable for drilling or pumping methods.
Uses of Oil
Most countries are heavily dependent on oil as a major source of energy. It is estimated that 99% of all transportation systems run on oil. Industries, homes, businesses, etc burn petroleum products to generate power leading to pollution, acid rain, and greenhouse effect leading to global warming. Only 5% of hydrocarbon compounds are used in the form of refining into specific products like diesel, petrol, kerosene, and fuel oils for heating, cooking, etc.
Oil can also be used to manufacture certain chemical products like rubber tires, paint, plastic polymers which have a very long life. It is also used in the confectionery industry in the preparation of chocolate and baked goods. Petroleum derivatives are found in a wide range of items from chewing gum, cosmetics, food preservatives, computers, and photographic film.
Oil has been instrumental in bringing about many major changes in the world economy. For example, up until 1850, there were no cars or trucks or planes that ran on oil since it was not readily available then. In 1886 John D Rockefeller formed Standard Oil Company with his close friend Henry Flagler where they gained a monopoly over the oil trade by controlling all aspects of production and distribution. Eventually, the monopoly was broken up and many companies like Mobile, Texaco, etc emerged (Nussbaum, 2008).
Oil is a non-renewable but major source of energy for most countries. It has been used since ancient times as lamp fuel and today makes up 40% of all energy production in the US where it is also used as a heating medium. Countries such as Russia rely heavily on oil to power their economy. Oil can be found almost anywhere with Saudi Arabia having some of the largest known reserves.
Types of Gas Extraction
Gas is another fossil fuel that can be extracted from blocks of porous sedimentary rock called gas reservoir rocks where pockets of natural gases collect (Shell Global, 2011).
Uses of Gas
Gas too is used as fuel but to a lesser extent than oil. Natural gas can be converted into synthetic gas or methanol for easy use in automotive engines. It also finds uses in several industries like fertilizer manufacturing, food processing, and plastics manufacturing.
Natural gas has become an important source of energy after the advent of electricity where it provides power to several factories and homes across the world (Busch, 2010). About 20% of all energy produced today comes from burning natural gas which makes up for a major part in heating homes, cooking food, and generating power. Heating bills have come down considerably since the last few decades due to the increased usage of natural gas as a heating medium. Another important use is in the agricultural sector where it is used to produce fertilizers as well as fuel farm machinery (Natural Gas, 2011).
Types of Natural Gas Extraction
Natural gas is extracted by drilling vertically into the ground to reach layers containing natural gas. It can also be found in shale formations but extraction becomes difficult since it requires extensive procedures like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
Types of Oil and Gas Extracted and Their uses in Different Applications
-Oil refers to a wide range of different compounds which are all hydrocarbons with no oxygen present which change depending on their molecular structure (Shell Global, 2011).
-It is estimated that there could still be 60 billion barrels of undiscovered oil equivalent to 10 years worth of existing production (Nussbaum, 2008).
-Oil is used as a fuel and its derivatives like petroleum form the base for manufacturing synthetic rubber tires. It can also be processed mechanically at high pressure to produce hydrogen and carbon monoxide which are used in the chemical industry (Shell Global, 2011).
-Around 40% of all energy produced today comes from burning oil gas whereas natural gas produces around 20% of all energy ( Busch, 2010 ).
-Natural Gas refers to any one of several combustible gases including methane with the molecular formula CH4. It is mostly found in geologic formations below Earth’s surface such as under oceans and oceanic crust. Methane is considered the cleanest fossil fuel since it emits around 30% less carbon dioxide when used as fuel (Shell Global, 2011).
-Natural gas is used to produce fertilizers, generate electricity, and for industrial purposes where it can be converted into synthetic gas or methanol. It also acts as a heating medium in homes which has become cheaper with the advent of natural gas. Most importantly, since its flammable, it can be used in automotive engines both directly and indirectly via gasoline.
We must conserve oil today because no more discoveries are being made unlike previously when its discovery led to an industrial revolution bringing about drastic changes in society. They are getting rarer every day but without this fuel, our modern technology would come to a halt.
This article is sponsored by Target Energy Solutions
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