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[Energy] [Column] All About Petroleum - (2) How Petroleum Has Been Formed

by Eco Generation | 25-06-2019 08:59 Comments 7 recommendations 0

How Petroleum Has Been Formed



By Science Columnist Ho-Gwan Ko




People began using petroleum thousands of years ago. At that time, people did not have the technology to dig into the ground, but they used petroleum that flowed up to the ground due to crustal movements. Black liquid that exudes from the ground and burns well in fire would naturally have attracted attention. Ancient people used petroleum for a variety of purposes.

Some traces have revealed that in the 50th century B.C., - yes, that's right, not the 5th century B.C. - bitumen was used for grain baskets in the Indus Valley Civilization. Bitumen is the sticky, black substance on the roads today. It's also called asphalt. It is made with what remains after refining petroleum, which is sometimes found in nature as well.

In the 30th century B.C., natural bitumen was used for adhesives and waterproofing. The Sumerians of the Mesopotamian region used bitumen in their buildings as mortar between bricks and stones. They also used it for bonding small parts of sculptures or preventing water from getting into boats. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, the Babylonians who followed the Sumerians used bitumen for building Babylon. In ancient Egypt, it was used as a preservative for making mummies. In addition, records or traces of using bitumen or petroleum are found in China and North America.

In ancient times, petroleum was a valuable war weapon, as it burns well. The Persians made fire arrows with petroleum-soaked clothes. In the 7th century, an incendiary weapon called “Greek fire” appeared in the Byzantine Empire. Not easily put out and burning even on water, this weapon was widely used in naval warfare. Although the precise manufacturing method is not known, modern scholars assume that it was made with petroleum.

It was the 4th century when humans first drilled holes in the ground to extract petroleum. In today's Sichuan province in China, people used bamboo to make holes up to 240m under the ground to extract petroleum and natural gas. The petroleum was used to boil seawater to make salt. Shen Kuo from the Song Dynasty of China first coined and used the word 石油 (petroleum) in his book Dream Pool Essays in 1088. The word is still used in East Asia.

Since petroleum was first used, however, its use was limited for thousands of years. The use of petroleum started to grow exponentially in the 19th century. At that time, modernization in Europe increased the need to light up cities. Until then, people had mostly used oil obtained from plants or animals to light lamps, but such resources could not fulfill the lighting demand anymore. In Europe and the United States, whale oil was used a great deal, but the number of whales was decreasing. Made by refining petroleum, kerosene was excellent for burning fuel; more and more people started trying to discover and develop petroleum.

The oil well developed by Edwin Drake in 1859 in Titusville, Pennsylvania in the United States is widely acknowledged as the first modern oilfield. At the same time, many refineries started to be built and refine crude oil and produce different types of petroleum products. Since then, many countries around the world joined the movement of discovering petroleum, and the petroleum industry has become bigger and bigger. Just before the end of the 19th century, oil fields were found in 14 states in the United States, with several in Europe and Asia.

Gasoline-powered internal combustion engines and diesel engines, which emerged in the late 19th century, further expanded the use of petroleum. It started to be used as a fuel for operating machines, going beyond simply lighting the darkness. Today, transportation modes using petroleum are going over land, sea, and sky across the world. If it were not for petroleum, it would have been difficult for the world to become as it is now. The use of petroleum is not limited to this. Merely 200 years after the petroleum industry started to be developed in earnest, petroleum has become an indispensable part of our lives. Details of this will be explained next.




Edwin Drake (right) and his first commerce oil field (building at the back):


Edwin Drake (right) and his first commerce oil field (building at the back)

The Oil and Gas Lease - Part I. Oil And Gas Lawyer Blog. John McFarland. Nov, 26th 2014. https://www.oilandgaslawyerblog.com/the-oil-and-gas-lease-part-i/





  • Rachu Khanal says :
    Thanks for this great article
    Posted 31-03-2020 07:52

Sanjay Poudel

  • Sanjay Poudel says :
    Good info about petroleum
    Posted 14-03-2020 00:31

  • Himadri Gunarathna says :
    What an interesting article Ho-Gwan Ko! Thank you for telling us about the history of the petroleum industry. What enormous strides we have made in 200 years.!
    Posted 13-07-2019 00:53

Sainath Manikandan

  • Sainath Manikandan says :
    Hi Tunza team!

    A very detailed report with quite a lot of information which we weren't aware of. Thanks.
    Posted 11-07-2019 13:41

Muskan Priya

  • Muskan Priya says :
    Thanks for the report @ecogen, :)
    Posted 01-07-2019 17:27

Israel Adeoye

  • Israel Adeoye says :
    Very detailed report. It's great to know that petroleum and its products have been in use since ancient times.

    This article also made me know Edwin Drake oilfield has the first modern oilfield.
    Posted 01-07-2019 06:36

  • Rosa Domingos says :
    Hi Tunza!

    I hope you are well,
    Petroleum has been in known to civilisation for a long time. I knew of how they were used in wars, but I was unaware of the fact that they used it for housing, poetry and boat repairs.

    Thank you for the thought-provoking piece!
    Warm regards.
    Posted 25-06-2019 16:18

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