Earth Science

Natural Resources

Petroleum Power

Study Tip
Just like water must be refined before we can drink it, crude oil must be refined before we are able to use it.

Formation of Crude Oil

Crude oil, or oil in the ground, is thick and dark brown or black. It is a mixture of various hydrocarbons, and can form from dead organisms buried in the ground. Heat and pressure from layers over fossils creates liquid oil.

Study Tip
Just like water must be refined before we can drink it, crude oil must be refined before we are able to use it.
Study Tip
The same way a person may cast a shadow over another person when they stand under the sun, planets or celestial bodies that have aligned themselves cast shadows over one another as well.
OPEC
(OPEC) Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries February 2008

Production of Petroleum

To produce petroleum, crude oil must be trapped between a porous rock layer and an impermeable layer. Oil companies drill into the porous rock to extract crude oil from it. Then, to separate the different types of hydrocarbons, crude oil must be refined in factories.

Use of Oil

Oil is mainly used as fuels, such as gasoline, diesel, and heating oil. It is rich in energy and easily transported. The remaining compounds from oil are used to make waxes, plastics, fertilizers, and other products. In cars, gasoline burns, causing the pistons to move; this powers the vehicle.

Oil (red) is found in the porous  rock layer
Oil (red) is found in the porous rock layer (yellow) and trapped by the impermeable layer (brown). The folded structure has allowed the oil to pool so a well can be drilled into thereservoir.

Consequences of Oil Use

Oil spills, such as the 2010 BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico, occur regularly. In addition, oil is not a renewable resource, and will run out eventually.

Concept Check
  • How is crude oil formed?
  • What are some main uses of oil?
  • What are the consequences of oil use?