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[Energy] [Column] All About Petroleum - (6) Sweet Petroleum? Sour Petroleum?

by Eco Generation | 23-07-2019 11:01 Comments 2 Comments recommendations 0 recommendations

Sweet Petroleum? Sour Petroleum?



By Science Columnist Ho-Gwan Ko




Although there are exceptions and side effects, countries with abundant oil reserves are usually rich from the oil money. On the other hand, countries that rely on imported petroleum generally reserve a certain amount of petroleum, as imports can become difficult due to natural disasters or international issues such as war.

If a country can steadily produce petroleum at home, it will definitely help to stabilize the economy. However, petroleum does not have the same quality. Watching news related to petroleum, you will hear words like West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Dubai Crude or light or heavy oil. WTI and Dubai Crude are benchmark oils along with Brent Crude from the North Sea for oil prices. Petroleum is produced in various places, and the quality is also different. Therefore, for the convenience of those who buy and sell petroleum, the highly produced and traded three crude oils provide benchmarks for the oil price.

WTI is produced and used only in western Texas, the United States. Dubai oil comes from the Middle East and is used in many parts of Asia including South Korea. Brent Crude is produced in the North Sea of the UK and used in Europe and Africa.

They differ not only in production region but also in quality. The American Petroleum Institute classifies crude oil with its own API standards. API is an indicator that shows how heavy crude is when compared to water. If the API is greater than 10, it is lighter than water and floats on water. If it is less than 10, it is heavier and sinks. As petroleum is lighter than water, the API is usually larger than 10. If the API is greater than 34, it is light oil; if the API falls between 24 and 33, it is intermediate; and if the API is below 24, it is heavy oil. The lightest oil is valuable, because it contains many useful ingredients like gasoline and naphtha.

Another factor that determines the quality of crude oil is the content of sulfur. More sulfur means that the oil needs to go through more desulfurization in the refining process, requiring high production costs. Therefore, it is natural that people prefer crude oil containing less sulfur. When describing the amount of sulfur contained in crude oil, we use an interesting expression. If the oil contains less than 0.5% of sulfur, it is considered sweet, and if the sulfur content is more than 0.5%, we say it is sour.

Therefore, the most valuable and most popular petroleum is low-sulfur light oil. All the above-mentioned three crude oils have different ingredients. WTI is premium crude oil with the API of 40 and a sulfur content of around 0.2%, and Brent Crude is also low-sulfur light oil. Dubai oil, which is widely imported from Asia, is high-sulfur intermediate oil. Although the quality is somewhat low, its short transport distance and low price is a great advantage. However, since the situation in the Middle East is unstable, oil-importing countries are trying to secure various sources.

The effort to find, develop, and secure petroleum will continue throughout the world. Hopefully, as many people as possible can benefit from petroleum by improving the quality of their lives in the process without causing disputes.


Sweet Petroleum? Sour Petroleum?

 Source: Korea National Oil Corporation. https://www.knoc.co.kr/sub11/sub11_4.jsp?page=1&num=38&mode=view&field=&text=&bid=HONGBOPT&ses=USERSESSION



Rachu Khanal

  • Rachu Khanal says :
    Thanks for this great article
    Posted 31-03-2020 07:53

Vazira Ikhtiyorova

  • Vazira Ikhtiyorova says :
    Tbh, as a girl, I wasn't interested in petroleum. However, the article gave me so much information. Great! Thank you!
    Posted 22-02-2020 21:04

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