What Is Petroleum?
Petroleum is an oil that is found underground. Sometimes we call it oil. Oil can be as thick and black as tar or as thin as water. Petroleum has a lot of energy. We can turn it into different fuels—like gasoline, kerosene, and heating oil. Most plastics are made from petroleum, too. Petroleum is also known as a fossil fuel which means it is made out of plants and animals from centuries ago.
Is It Renewable?
Where Is It Found?
How It Produces Energy
Conventional Steam-Oil is burned to heat water to create steam to generate electricity.
Combustion Turbine-Oil is burned under pressure to produce hot exhaust gases which spin a turbine to generate electricity.
Combined Cycle Technology-Oil is first combusted in a combustion turbine, using the heated exhaust gases to generate electricity. After these exhaust gases are recovered, they heat water in a boiler, creating steam to drive a second turbine.
Uses and Products of Petroleum
Who Uses It?
Consumption and Production
- United States: 18,835.5
- United Kingdom: 1,607.9
- South Korea: 2,230.2
- Saudi Arabia: 2,817.5
- Russia: 3,145.1
- Mexico: 2,132.7
- Japan: 4,464.1
- Italy: 1,453.6
- Iran: 1,694.4
- India: 3,292.2
- Germany: 2,400.1
- France: 1,791.5
- China: 9,790.0
- Canada: 2,259.1
- Brazil: 2,594.2
- Saudi Arabia: 11,150,000
- Russia: 10,210,000
- United States: 9,023,000
- China: 4,073,000
- Canada: 3,592,000
- United Arab Emirates: 3,087,000
- Kuwait: 2,682,000
- Iraq: 2,638,000
The Environmental Impact
1) High Energy Density – Oil has one of the highest energy densities which means that a small amount of oil can produce a large amount of energy. This makes it very useful as its high energy density has made it the preferred choice for use as fuel in automobiles.
2) Easy Availability, Infrastructure for Transport and Use – Oil is widely distributed in almost all parts of the world. Also there exists a massive infrastructure to transport oil to other places through ships, pipelines and tankers. This means that oil is available throughout the world.
3) Crucial for wide variety of Industries – Besides Transport,Oil is a critical component in a wide variety of other industries. It is difficult to think of a commodity which has such a huge role to play in a wide variety of human products from Vaseline, cloth, medicines etc.
4) Easy to Produce and Refine – Oil is not very difficult to produce though most of the low cost locations have already been depleted. Now Oil is being mined off the coasts in seas and also tar sands. Oil Refinery Technology is also quite old and mature which implies that refining of oil to get valuable products like diesel, petrol is also quite easy.
5) Constant Power Source and Reliability - Unlike solar and wind energy, oil can produce power 24/7 and is highly reliable. Oil engines are a mature technology and highly reliable to work with.
1) Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) – One of the biggest Disadvantages of Oil is that it releases Carbon Dioxide which has been sequestered for millions of years in the dead bodies of plant and animals. This transfers the Carbon from the Earth to the Environment leading to the Global Warming Effect. Global Treaties have failed in putting a Cost on this, though individual countries are tying to account for this through Carbon Taxes and Cap and Trade.
2) Pollution of Water and Earth – Oil Spills have caused massive pollution of water bodies as massive oil supertankers lead oil. This leads to the death of thousands of animals and fishes every year beside devastating the local ecology. The BP Oil Spill caused billions of dollars in losses and even to this day small Oil Spills keep happening.
3) Growth in Terrorism and Violence – Oil is drilled in some of the worst dictatorships like Saudi Arabia, African countries. This Oil Money goes directly into the hands of these despots who have amassed trillions of dollars. They give rise to violence and growth in terrorism as this oil money is used to fund these organizations. Osama Bin Laden comes from one of the richest Saudi families. However the powerful Oil Money also manages to suppress the voices of protest.
4)Emission of Harmful Substances like Sulfur Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Acid Rain - Oil Plants emit harmful substances such as Sulfur Dioxide which cause health hazards among the surrounding population and Acid Rain. While modern equipment has reduced the emission of these harmful substances, it is still very harmful to humans.
5) Leads to production of very harmful and toxic materials during refining, Plastic is one of the most harmful substances – Oil exists as a mixture of hydrocarbons with traces of sulfur and other compounds. Refining of Oil leads to production of harmful gases and solids like Carbon Monoxide and Plastic.