Petroleum

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Oil well.jpg
Pumpjack pumping an oil well near Lubbock, Texas.
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An oil refinery in Mina Al Ahmadi, Kuwait.

Petroleum ( /pəˈtrliəm/ ) is a naturally occurring, yellowish-black liquid found in geological formations beneath the Earth's surface. It is commonly refined into various types of fuels. Components of petroleum are separated using a technique called fractional distillation, i.e. separation of a liquid mixture into fractions differing in boiling point by means of distillation, typically using a fractionating column.

Liquid One of the four fundamental states of matter

A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid that conforms to the shape of its container but retains a (nearly) constant volume independent of pressure. As such, it is one of the four fundamental states of matter, and is the only state with a definite volume but no fixed shape. A liquid is made up of tiny vibrating particles of matter, such as atoms, held together by intermolecular bonds. Like a gas, a liquid is able to flow and take the shape of a container. Most liquids resist compression, although others can be compressed. Unlike a gas, a liquid does not disperse to fill every space of a container, and maintains a fairly constant density. A distinctive property of the liquid state is surface tension, leading to wetting phenomena. Water is, by far, the most common liquid on Earth.

Earth Third planet from the Sun in the Solar System

Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. According to radiometric dating and other sources of evidence, Earth formed over 4.5 billion years ago. Earth's gravity interacts with other objects in space, especially the Sun and the Moon, which is Earth's only natural satellite. Earth orbits around the Sun in 365.26 days, a period known as an Earth year. During this time, Earth rotates about its axis about 366.26 times.

Fuel any material that stores energy that can later be extracted, in presence of a oxidizer or a catalyser, or under the effect of a tool, but which is not conserved after the reaction

A fuel is any material that can be made to react with other substances so that it releases energy as heat energy or to be used for work. The concept was originally applied solely to those materials capable of releasing chemical energy but has since also been applied to other sources of heat energy such as nuclear energy.

Contents

It consists of naturally occurring hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and may contain miscellaneous organic compounds. [1] The name petroleum covers both naturally occurring unprocessed crude oil and petroleum products that are made up of refined crude oil. A fossil fuel, petroleum is formed when large quantities of dead organisms, mostly zooplankton and algae, are buried underneath sedimentary rock and subjected to both intense heat and pressure.

Hydrocarbon organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon

In organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons are examples of group 14 hydrides. Hydrocarbons from which one hydrogen atom has been removed are functional groups called hydrocarbyls. Because carbon has 4 electrons in its outermost shell carbon has exactly four bonds to make, and is only stable if all 4 of these bonds are used.

Organic compound Chemical compound that contains carbon (except for several compounds traditionally classified as inorganic compounds)

In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain carbon. Due to carbon's ability to catenate, millions of organic compounds are known. The study of the properties, reactions, and syntheses of organic compounds comprises the discipline known as organic chemistry. For historical reasons, a few classes of carbon-containing compounds, along with a handful of other exceptions, are not classified as organic compounds and are considered inorganic. Other than those just named, little consensus exists among chemists on precisely which carbon-containing compounds are excluded, making any rigorous definition of an organic compound elusive.

Petroleum product useful material derived from crude oil (petroleum)

Petroleum products are materials derived from crude oil (petroleum) as it is processed in oil refineries. Unlike petrochemicals, which are a collection of well-defined usually pure chemical compounds, petroleum products are complex mixtures. The majority of petroleum is converted to petroleum products, which includes several classes of fuels.

Petroleum has mostly been recovered by oil drilling (natural petroleum springs are rare). Drilling is carried out after studies of structural geology (at the reservoir scale), sedimentary basin analysis, and reservoir characterisation (mainly in terms of the porosity and permeability of geologic reservoir structures) have been completed. [2] [3] It is refined and separated, most easily by distillation, into numerous consumer products, from gasoline (petrol) and kerosene to asphalt and chemical reagents used to make plastics, pesticides and pharmaceuticals. [4] Petroleum is used in manufacturing a wide variety of materials, [5] and it is estimated that the world consumes about 95 million barrels each day.

Porosity or void fraction is a measure of the void spaces in a material, and is a fraction of the volume of voids over the total volume, between 0 and 1, or as a percentage between 0% and 100%. Strictly speaking, some tests measure the "accessible void", the total amount of void space accessible from the surface. There are many ways to test porosity in a substance or part, such as industrial CT scanning. The term porosity is used in multiple fields including pharmaceutics, ceramics, metallurgy, materials, manufacturing, hydrology, earth sciences, soil mechanics and engineering.

Gasoline Transparent, petroleum-derived liquid that is used primarily as a fuel

Gasoline, or petrol, is a colorless petroleum-derived flammable liquid that is used primarily as a fuel in spark-ignited internal combustion engines. It consists mostly of organic compounds obtained by the fractional distillation of petroleum, enhanced with a variety of additives. On average, a 42-U.S.-gallon (160-liter) barrel of crude oil yields about 19 U.S. gallons of gasoline after processing in an oil refinery, though this varies based on the crude oil assay.

The use of petroleum as fuel is controversial due to its impact on global warming and ocean acidification. According to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, fossil fuel phase-out, including petroleum, needs to be completed by the end of 21st century to avoid "severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems". [6]

Global warming Current rise in Earths average temperature and its effects

Global warming is the long-term rise in the average temperature of the Earth's climate system. It is a major aspect of current climate change, and has been demonstrated by direct temperature measurements and by measurements of various effects of the warming. The term commonly refers to the mainly human-caused increase in global surface temperatures and its projected continuation. In this context, the terms global warming and climate change are often used interchangeably, but climate change includes both global warming and its effects, such as changes in precipitation and impacts that differ by region. There were prehistoric periods of global warming, but observed changes since the mid-20th century have been much greater than those seen in previous records covering decades to thousands of years.

Ocean acidification Ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earths oceans, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide

Ocean acidification is the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO
2
) from the atmosphere. Seawater is slightly basic (meaning pH > 7), and ocean acidification involves a shift towards pH-neutral conditions rather than a transition to acidic conditions (pH < 7). An estimated 30–40% of the carbon dioxide from human activity released into the atmosphere dissolves into oceans, rivers and lakes. To achieve chemical equilibrium, some of it reacts with the water to form carbonic acid. Some of the resulting carbonic acid molecules dissociate into a bicarbonate ion and a hydrogen ion, thus increasing ocean acidity (H+ ion concentration). Between 1751 and 1996, surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.25 to 8.14, representing an increase of almost 30% in H+ ion concentration in the world's oceans. Earth System Models project that, by around 2008, ocean acidity exceeded historical analogues and, in combination with other ocean biogeochemical changes, could undermine the functioning of marine ecosystems and disrupt the provision of many goods and services associated with the ocean beginning as early as 2100.

United Nations Intergovernmental organization

The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization responsible for maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations, achieving international cooperation, and being a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations. It is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. The UN is headquartered on international territory in New York City; other main offices are in Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna and The Hague.

Etymology

Fractional distillation apparatus. Fractional distillation apparatus.jpg
Fractional distillation apparatus.

The word petroleum comes from Medieval Latin petroleum (literally "rock oil"), which comes from Latin petra', "rock", (from Ancient Greek : πέτρα, romanized: petra, "rock") and Latin oleum , "oil", (from Ancient Greek : ἔλαιον, romanized: élaion, "oil"). [7] [8]

Medieval Latin Form of Latin used in the Middle Ages

Medieval Latin was the form of Latin used in Roman Catholic Western Europe during the Middle Ages. In this region it served as the primary written language, though local languages were also written to varying degrees. Latin functioned as the main medium of scholarly exchange, as the liturgical language of the Church, and as the working language of science, literature, law, and administration.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

The term was used in the treatise De Natura Fossilium , published in 1546 by the German mineralogist Georg Bauer, also known as Georgius Agricola. [9] In the 19th century, the term petroleum was often used to refer to mineral oils produced by distillation from mined organic solids such as cannel coal (and later oil shale) and refined oils produced from them; in the United Kingdom, storage (and later transport) of these oils were regulated by a series of Petroleum Acts, from the Petroleum Act 1863 onwards.

<i>De Natura Fossilium</i> 1546 book on mining by Georgius Agricola

De Natura Fossilium is a scientific text written by Georg Bauer also known as Georgius Agricola, first published in 1546. The book represents the first scientific attempt to categorize minerals, rocks and sediments since the publication of Pliny's Natural History. This text along with Agricola's other works including De Re Metallica compose the earliest comprehensive "scientific" approach to mineralogy, mining, and geological science.

Mineral oil liquid mixture of higher alkanes from a mineral source, particularly a distillate of petroleum

Mineral oil is any of various colorless, odorless, light mixtures of higher alkanes from a mineral source, particularly a distillate of petroleum, as distinct from usually edible vegetable oils.

Cannel coal type of bituminous coal

Cannel coal or candle coal is a type of bituminous coal, also classified as terrestrial type oil shale. Due to its physical morphology and low mineral content cannel coal is considered to be coal but by its texture and composition of the organic matter it is considered to be oil shale. Although historically the term cannel coal has been used interchangeably with boghead coal, a more recent classification system restricts cannel coal to terrestrial origin, and boghead coal to lacustrine environments.

History

Early

Oil derrick in Okemah, Oklahoma, 1922. Gusher Okemah OK 1922.jpg
Oil derrick in Okemah, Oklahoma, 1922.

Petroleum, in one form or another, has been used since ancient times, and is now important across society, including in economy, politics and technology. The rise in importance was due to the invention of the internal combustion engine, the rise in commercial aviation, and the importance of petroleum to industrial organic chemistry, particularly the synthesis of plastics, fertilisers, solvents, adhesives and pesticides.

More than 4000 years ago, according to Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, asphalt was used in the construction of the walls and towers of Babylon; there were oil pits near Ardericca (near Babylon), and a pitch spring on Zacynthus. [10] Great quantities of it were found on the banks of the river Issus, one of the tributaries of the Euphrates. Ancient Persian tablets indicate the medicinal and lighting uses of petroleum in the upper levels of their society.

The use of petroleum in ancient China dates back to more than 2000 years ago. In I Ching, one of the earliest Chinese writings cites that oil in its raw state, without refining, was first discovered, extracted, and used in China in the first century BCE. In addition, the Chinese were the first to record the use of petroleum as fuel as early as the fourth century BCE. [11] [12] [13] By 347 AD, oil was produced from bamboo-drilled wells in China. [14] [15]

Crude oil was often distilled by Arabic chemists, with clear descriptions given in Arabic handbooks such as those of Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi (Rhazes). [16] The streets of Baghdad were paved with tar, derived from petroleum that became accessible from natural fields in the region. In the 9th century, oil fields were exploited in the area around modern Baku, Azerbaijan. These fields were described by the Arab geographer Abu al-Hasan 'Alī al-Mas'ūdī in the 10th century, and by Marco Polo in the 13th century, who described the output of those wells as hundreds of shiploads. [17] Arab and Persian chemists also distilled crude oil in order to produce flammable products for military purposes. Through Islamic Spain, distillation became available in Western Europe by the 12th century. [18] It has also been present in Romania since the 13th century, being recorded as păcură. [19]

Early British explorers to Myanmar documented a flourishing oil extraction industry based in Yenangyaung that, in 1795, had hundreds of hand-dug wells under production. [20]

Pechelbronn (Pitch fountain) is said to be the first European site where petroleum has been explored and used. The still active Erdpechquelle, a spring where petroleum appears mixed with water has been used since 1498, notably for medical purposes. Oil sands have been mined since the 18th century. [21]

In Wietze in lower Saxony, natural asphalt/bitumen has been explored since the 18th century. [22] Both in Pechelbronn as in Wietze, the coal industry dominated the petroleum technologies. [23]

Modern

Proven world oil reserves, 2013. Unconventional reservoirs such as natural heavy oil and oil sands are included. Oil Reserves.png
Proven world oil reserves, 2013. Unconventional reservoirs such as natural heavy oil and oil sands are included.

Chemist James Young noticed a natural petroleum seepage in the Riddings colliery at Alfreton, Derbyshire from which he distilled a light thin oil suitable for use as lamp oil, at the same time obtaining a more viscous oil suitable for lubricating machinery. In 1848, Young set up a small business refining the crude oil. [24]

Young eventually succeeded, by distilling cannel coal at a low heat, in creating a fluid resembling petroleum, which when treated in the same way as the seep oil gave similar products. Young found that by slow distillation he could obtain a number of useful liquids from it, one of which he named "paraffine oil" because at low temperatures it congealed into a substance resembling paraffin wax. [24]

The production of these oils and solid paraffin wax from coal formed the subject of his patent dated 17 October 1850. In 1850 Young & Meldrum and Edward William Binney entered into partnership under the title of E.W. Binney & Co. at Bathgate in West Lothian and E. Meldrum & Co. at Glasgow; their works at Bathgate were completed in 1851 and became the first truly commercial oil-works in the world with the first modern oil refinery. [25]

Shale bings near Broxburn, 3 of a total of 19 in West Lothian. West Lothian shale bing, Scotland.JPG
Shale bings near Broxburn, 3 of a total of 19 in West Lothian.

The world's first oil refinery was built in 1856 by Ignacy Łukasiewicz. [26] His achievements also included the discovery of how to distill kerosene from seep oil, the invention of the modern kerosene lamp (1853), the introduction of the first modern street lamp in Europe (1853), and the construction of the world's first modern oil well (1854). [27]

The demand for petroleum as a fuel for lighting in North America and around the world quickly grew. [28] Edwin Drake's 1859 well near Titusville, Pennsylvania, is popularly considered the first modern well. Already 1858 Georg Christian Konrad Hunäus had found a significant amount of petroleum while drilling for lignite 1858 in Wietze, Germany. Wietze later provided about 80% of the German consumption in the Wilhelminian Era. [29] The production stopped in 1963, but Wietze has hosted a Petroleum Museum since 1970. [30]

Drake's well is probably singled out because it was drilled, not dug; because it used a steam engine; because there was a company associated with it; and because it touched off a major boom. [31] However, there was considerable activity before Drake in various parts of the world in the mid-19th century. A group directed by Major Alexeyev of the Bakinskii Corps of Mining Engineers hand-drilled a well in the Baku region in 1848. [32] There were engine-drilled wells in West Virginia in the same year as Drake's well. [33] An early commercial well was hand dug in Poland in 1853, and another in nearby Romania in 1857. At around the same time the world's first, small, oil refinery was opened at Jasło in Poland, with a larger one opened at Ploiești in Romania shortly after. Romania is the first country in the world to have had its annual crude oil output officially recorded in international statistics: 275 tonnes for 1857. [34] [35]

The first commercial oil well in Canada became operational in 1858 at Oil Springs, Ontario (then Canada West). [36] Businessman James Miller Williams dug several wells between 1855 and 1858 before discovering a rich reserve of oil four metres below ground. [37] [ specify ] Williams extracted 1.5 million litres of crude oil by 1860, refining much of it into kerosene lamp oil. Williams's well became commercially viable a year before Drake's Pennsylvania operation and could be argued to be the first commercial oil well in North America. [38] The discovery at Oil Springs touched off an oil boom which brought hundreds of speculators and workers to the area. Advances in drilling continued into 1862 when local driller Shaw reached a depth of 62 metres using the spring-pole drilling method. [39] On January 16, 1862, after an explosion of natural gas Canada's first oil gusher came into production, shooting into the air at a recorded rate of 3,000 barrels per day. [40] By the end of the 19th century the Russian Empire, particularly the Branobel company in Azerbaijan, had taken the lead in production. [41]

A poster used to promote carpooling as a way to ration gasoline during World War II. Ride with hitler.jpg
A poster used to promote carpooling as a way to ration gasoline during World War II.

Access to oil was and still is a major factor in several military conflicts of the twentieth century, including World War II, during which oil facilities were a major strategic asset and were extensively bombed. [42] The German invasion of the Soviet Union included the goal to capture the Baku oilfields, as it would provide much needed oil-supplies for the German military which was suffering from blockades. [43] Oil exploration in North America during the early 20th century later led to the US becoming the leading producer by mid-century. As petroleum production in the US peaked during the 1960s, however, the United States was surpassed by Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union.[ citation needed ]

In 1973, Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations imposed an oil embargo against the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and other Western nations which supported Israel in the Yom Kippur War of October 1973. [44] The embargo caused an oil crisis with many short- and long-term effects on global politics and the global economy. [45]

Today, about 90 percent of vehicular fuel needs are met by oil. Petroleum also makes up 40 percent of total energy consumption in the United States, but is responsible for only 1 percent of electricity generation. [46] Petroleum's worth as a portable, dense energy source powering the vast majority of vehicles and as the base of many industrial chemicals makes it one of the world's most important commodities. Viability of the oil commodity is controlled by several key parameters: number of vehicles in the world competing for fuel; quantity of oil exported to the world market (Export Land Model); net energy gain (economically useful energy provided minus energy consumed); political stability of oil exporting nations; and ability to defend oil supply lines.[ citation needed ]

The top three oil producing countries are Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States. [47] In 2018, due in part to developments in hydraulic fracturing and horizonal drilling, the United States became the world's largest producer. [48] [49] About 80 percent of the world's readily accessible reserves are located in the Middle East, with 62.5 percent coming from the Arab 5: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Qatar and Kuwait. A large portion of the world's total oil exists as unconventional sources, such as bitumen in Athabasca oil sands and extra heavy oil in the Orinoco Belt. While significant volumes of oil are extracted from oil sands, particularly in Canada, logistical and technical hurdles remain, as oil extraction requires large amounts of heat and water, making its net energy content quite low relative to conventional crude oil. Thus, Canada's oil sands are not expected to provide more than a few million barrels per day in the foreseeable future.[ citation needed ]

Composition

Petroleum includes not only crude oil, but all liquid, gaseous and solid hydrocarbons. Under surface pressure and temperature conditions, lighter hydrocarbons methane, ethane, propane and butane exist as gases, while pentane and heavier hydrocarbons are in the form of liquids or solids. However, in an underground oil reservoir the proportions of gas, liquid, and solid depend on subsurface conditions and on the phase diagram of the petroleum mixture. [50]

An oil well produces predominantly crude oil, with some natural gas dissolved in it. Because the pressure is lower at the surface than underground, some of the gas will come out of solution and be recovered (or burned) as associated gas or solution gas. A gas well produces predominantly natural gas. However, because the underground temperature and pressure are higher than at the surface, the gas may contain heavier hydrocarbons such as pentane, hexane, and heptane in the gaseous state. At surface conditions these will condense out of the gas to form "natural gas condensate", often shortened to condensate. Condensate resembles gasoline in appearance and is similar in composition to some volatile light crude oils.[ citation needed ]

The proportion of light hydrocarbons in the petroleum mixture varies greatly among different oil fields, ranging from as much as 97 percent by weight in the lighter oils to as little as 50 percent in the heavier oils and bitumens.[ citation needed ]

The hydrocarbons in crude oil are mostly alkanes, cycloalkanes and various aromatic hydrocarbons, while the other organic compounds contain nitrogen, oxygen and sulfur, and trace amounts of metals such as iron, nickel, copper and vanadium. Many oil reservoirs contain live bacteria. [51] The exact molecular composition of crude oil varies widely from formation to formation but the proportion of chemical elements varies over fairly narrow limits as follows: [52]

Composition by weight
ElementPercent range
Carbon 83 to 85%
Hydrogen 10 to 14%
Nitrogen 0.1 to 2%
Oxygen 0.05 to 1.5%
Sulfur 0.05 to 6.0%
Metals < 0.1%

Four different types of hydrocarbon molecules appear in crude oil. The relative percentage of each varies from oil to oil, determining the properties of each oil. [50]

Composition by weight
HydrocarbonAverageRange
Alkanes (paraffins)30%15 to 60%
Naphthenes 49%30 to 60%
Aromatics 15%3 to 30%
Asphaltics 6%remainder
Unconventional resources are much larger than conventional ones. Total World Oil Reserves Conventional Unconventional.png
Unconventional resources are much larger than conventional ones.

Crude oil varies greatly in appearance depending on its composition. It is usually black or dark brown (although it may be yellowish, reddish, or even greenish). In the reservoir it is usually found in association with natural gas, which being lighter forms a "gas cap" over the petroleum, and saline water which, being heavier than most forms of crude oil, generally sinks beneath it. Crude oil may also be found in a semi-solid form mixed with sand and water, as in the Athabasca oil sands in Canada, where it is usually referred to as crude bitumen. In Canada, bitumen is considered a sticky, black, tar-like form of crude oil which is so thick and heavy that it must be heated or diluted before it will flow. [54] Venezuela also has large amounts of oil in the Orinoco oil sands, although the hydrocarbons trapped in them are more fluid than in Canada and are usually called extra heavy oil. These oil sands resources are called unconventional oil to distinguish them from oil which can be extracted using traditional oil well methods. Between them, Canada and Venezuela contain an estimated 3.6 trillion barrels (570×10^9 m3) of bitumen and extra-heavy oil, about twice the volume of the world's reserves of conventional oil. [55]

Petroleum is used mostly, by volume, for refining into fuel oil and gasoline, both important "primary energy" sources. 84 percent by volume of the hydrocarbons present in petroleum is converted into energy-rich fuels (petroleum-based fuels), including gasoline, diesel, jet, heating, and other fuel oils, and liquefied petroleum gas. [56] The lighter grades of crude oil produce the best yields of these products, but as the world's reserves of light and medium oil are depleted, oil refineries are increasingly having to process heavy oil and bitumen, and use more complex and expensive methods to produce the products required. Because heavier crude oils have too much carbon and not enough hydrogen, these processes generally involve removing carbon from or adding hydrogen to the molecules, and using fluid catalytic cracking to convert the longer, more complex molecules in the oil to the shorter, simpler ones in the fuels.[ citation needed ]

Due to its high energy density, easy transportability and relative abundance, oil has become the world's most important source of energy since the mid-1950s. Petroleum is also the raw material for many chemical products, including pharmaceuticals, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, and plastics; the 16 percent not used for energy production is converted into these other materials. Petroleum is found in porous rock formations in the upper strata of some areas of the Earth's crust. There is also petroleum in oil sands (tar sands). Known oil reserves are typically estimated at around 190 km3 (1.2 trillion (short scale) barrels) without oil sands, [57] or 595 km3 (3.74 trillion barrels) with oil sands. [58] Consumption is currently around 84 million barrels (13.4×10^6 m3) per day, or 4.9 km3 per year, yielding a remaining oil supply of only about 120 years, if current demand remains static.[ citation needed ]

Chemistry

Octane, a hydrocarbon found in petroleum. Lines represent single bonds; black spheres represent carbon; white spheres represent hydrogen. Octane molecule 3D model.png
Octane, a hydrocarbon found in petroleum. Lines represent single bonds; black spheres represent carbon; white spheres represent hydrogen.

Petroleum is a mixture of a very large number of different hydrocarbons; the most commonly found molecules are alkanes (paraffins), cycloalkanes (naphthenes), aromatic hydrocarbons, or more complicated chemicals like asphaltenes. Each petroleum variety has a unique mix of molecules, which define its physical and chemical properties, like color and viscosity.

The alkanes, also known as paraffins, are saturated hydrocarbons with straight or branched chains which contain only carbon and hydrogen and have the general formula CnH2n+2. They generally have from 5 to 40 carbon atoms per molecule, although trace amounts of shorter or longer molecules may be present in the mixture.

The alkanes from pentane (C5H12) to octane (C8H18) are refined into gasoline, the ones from nonane (C9H20) to hexadecane (C16H34) into diesel fuel, kerosene and jet fuel. Alkanes with more than 16 carbon atoms can be refined into fuel oil and lubricating oil. At the heavier end of the range, paraffin wax is an alkane with approximately 25 carbon atoms, while asphalt has 35 and up, although these are usually cracked by modern refineries into more valuable products. The shortest molecules, those with four or fewer carbon atoms, are in a gaseous state at room temperature. They are the petroleum gases. Depending on demand and the cost of recovery, these gases are either flared off, sold as liquefied petroleum gas under pressure, or used to power the refinery's own burners. During the winter, butane (C4H10), is blended into the gasoline pool at high rates, because its high vapour pressure assists with cold starts. Liquified under pressure slightly above atmospheric, it is best known for powering cigarette lighters, but it is also a main fuel source for many developing countries. Propane can be liquified under modest pressure, and is consumed for just about every application relying on petroleum for energy, from cooking to heating to transportation.

The cycloalkanes, also known as naphthenes, are saturated hydrocarbons which have one or more carbon rings to which hydrogen atoms are attached according to the formula CnH2n. Cycloalkanes have similar properties to alkanes but have higher boiling points.

The aromatic hydrocarbons are unsaturated hydrocarbons which have one or more planar six-carbon rings called benzene rings, to which hydrogen atoms are attached with the formula CnH2n-6. They tend to burn with a sooty flame, and many have a sweet aroma. Some are carcinogenic.

These different molecules are separated by fractional distillation at an oil refinery to produce gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene, and other hydrocarbons. For example, 2,2,4-trimethylpentane (isooctane), widely used in gasoline, has a chemical formula of C8H18 and it reacts with oxygen exothermically: [59]

2 C
8
H
18
(l) + 25 O
2
(g) → 16 CO
2
(g) + 18 H
2
O
(g) (ΔH = −5.51 MJ/mol of octane)

The number of various molecules in an oil sample can be determined by laboratory analysis. The molecules are typically extracted in a solvent, then separated in a gas chromatograph, and finally determined with a suitable detector, such as a flame ionization detector or a mass spectrometer. [60] Due to the large number of co-eluted hydrocarbons within oil, many cannot be resolved by traditional gas chromatography and typically appear as a hump in the chromatogram. This Unresolved Complex Mixture (UCM) of hydrocarbons is particularly apparent when analysing weathered oils and extracts from tissues of organisms exposed to oil. Some of the component of oil will mix with water: the water associated fraction of the oil.

Incomplete combustion of petroleum or gasoline results in production of toxic byproducts. Too little oxygen during combustion results in the formation of carbon monoxide. Due to the high temperatures and high pressures involved, exhaust gases from gasoline combustion in car engines usually include nitrogen oxides which are responsible for creation of photochemical smog.

Empirical equations for thermal properties

Heat of combustion

At a constant volume, the heat of combustion of a petroleum product can be approximated as follows:

,

where is measured in calories per gram and is the specific gravity at 60 °F (16 °C).

Thermal conductivity

The thermal conductivity of petroleum based liquids can be modeled as follows: [61]

where is measured in BTU ·°F−1hr−1ft−1 , is measured in °F and is degrees API gravity.

Specific heat

The specific heat of petroleum oils can be modeled as follows: [62]

,

where is measured in BTU/(lb °F), is the temperature in Fahrenheit and is the specific gravity at 60 °F (16 °C).

In units of kcal/(kg·°C), the formula is:

,

where the temperature is in Celsius and is the specific gravity at 15 °C.

Latent heat of vaporization

The latent heat of vaporization can be modeled under atmospheric conditions as follows:

,

where is measured in BTU/lb, is measured in °F and is the specific gravity at 60 °F (16 °C).

In units of kcal/kg, the formula is:

,

where the temperature is in Celsius and is the specific gravity at 15 °C. [63]

Formation

Structure of a vanadium porphyrin compound (left) extracted from petroleum by Alfred E. Treibs, father of organic geochemistry. Treibs noted the close structural similarity of this molecule and chlorophyll a (right). Treibs&Chlorophyll.png
Structure of a vanadium porphyrin compound (left) extracted from petroleum by Alfred E. Treibs, father of organic geochemistry. Treibs noted the close structural similarity of this molecule and chlorophyll a (right).

Petroleum is a fossil fuel derived from ancient fossilized organic materials, such as zooplankton and algae. [66] [67] Vast amounts of these remains settled to sea or lake bottoms where they were covered in stagnant water (water with no dissolved oxygen) or sediments such as mud and silt faster than they could decompose aerobically. Approximately 1 m below this sediment or[ clarification needed ] water oxygen concentration was low, below 0.1 mg/l, and anoxic conditions existed. Temperatures also remained constant. [67]

As further layers settled to the sea or lake bed, intense heat and pressure built up in the lower regions. This process caused the organic matter to change, first into a waxy material known as kerogen, found in various oil shales around the world, and then with more heat into liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons via a process known as catagenesis. Formation of petroleum occurs from hydrocarbon pyrolysis in a variety of mainly endothermic reactions at high temperature or pressure, or both. [67] [68] These phases are described in detail below.

First phase of diagenesis: anaerobic decay

In the absence of plentiful oxygen, aerobic bacteria were prevented from decaying the organic matter after it was buried under a layer of sediment or water. However, anaerobic bacteria were able to reduce sulfates and nitrates among the matter to H2S and N2 respectively by using the matter as a source for other reactants. Due to such anaerobic bacteria, at first this matter began to break apart mostly via hydrolysis: polysaccharides and proteins were hydrolyzed to simple sugars and amino acids respectively. These were further anaerobically oxidized at an accelerated rate by the enzymes of the bacteria: e.g., amino acids went through oxidative deamination to imino acids, which in turn reacted further to ammonia and α-keto acids. Monosaccharides in turn ultimately decayed to CO2 and methane. The anaerobic decay products of amino acids, monosaccharides, phenols and aldehydes combined to fulvic acids. Fats and waxes were not extensively hydrolyzed under these mild conditions. [67]

Second phase of diagenesis: kerogen formation

Some phenolic compounds produced from previous reactions worked as bactericides and actinomycetales order of bacteria produced antibiotic compounds (e.g., streptomycin). Thus the action of anaerobic bacteria ceased at about 10 m below the water or sediment. The mixture at this depth contained fulvic acids, unreacted and partially reacted fats and waxes, slightly modified lignin, resins and other hydrocarbons. [67] As more layers of organic matter settled to the sea or lake bed, intense heat and pressure built up in the lower regions. [68] As a consequence, compounds of this mixture the began to combine in poorly understood ways to kerogen. Combination happened in a similar fashion as phenol and formaldehyde molecules react to urea-formaldehyde resins, but kerogen formation occurred in a more complex manner due to a bigger variety of reactants. The total process of kerogen formation from the beginning of anaerobic decay is called diagenesis, a word that means a transformation of materials by dissolution and recombination of their constituents. [67]

Catagenesis: transformation of kerogen into fossil fuels

Kerogen formation continued to the depth of about 1 km from the Earth's surface where temperatures may reach around 50 °C. Kerogen formation represents a halfway point between organic matter and fossil fuels: kerogen can be exposed to oxygen, oxidize and thus be lost or it could be buried deeper inside the Earth's crust and be subjected to conditions which allow it to slowly transform into fossil fuels like petroleum. The latter happened through catagenesis in which the reactions were mostly radical rearrangements of kerogen. These reactions took thousands to millions of years and no external reactants were involved. Due to radical nature of these reactions, kerogen reacted towards two classes of products: those with low H/C ratio (anthracene or products similar to it) and those with high H/C ratio (methane or products similar to it); i.e., carbon-rich or hydrogen-rich products. Because catagenesis was closed off from external reactants, the resulting composition of the fuel mixture was dependent on the composition of the kerogen via reaction stoichiometry. 3 main types of kerogen exist: type I (algal), II (liptinic) and III (humic), which were formed mainly from algae, plankton and woody plants (this term includes trees, shrubs and lianas) respectively. [67]

Catagenesis was pyrolytic despite of the fact that it happened at relatively low temperatures (when compared to commercial pyrolysis plants) of 60 to several hundred °C. Pyrolysis was possible because of the long reaction times involved. Heat for catagenesis came from the decomposition of radioactive materials of the crust, especially 40K, 232Th, 235U and 238U. The heat varied with geothermal gradient and was typically 10-30 °C per km of depth from the Earth's surface. Unusual magma intrusions, however, could have created greater localized heating. [67]

Geologists often refer to the temperature range in which oil forms as an "oil window". [69] [67] Below the minimum temperature oil remains trapped in the form of kerogen. Above the maximum temperature the oil is converted to natural gas through the process of thermal cracking. Sometimes, oil formed at extreme depths may migrate and become trapped at a much shallower level. The Athabasca Oil Sands are one example of this. [67]

Abiogenic petroleum

An alternative mechanism to the one described above was proposed by Russian scientists in the mid-1850s, the hypothesis of abiogenic petroleum origin (petroleum formed by inorganic means), but this is contradicted by geological and geochemical evidence. [70] Abiogenic sources of oil have been found, but never in commercially profitable amounts. "The controversy isn't over whether abiogenic oil reserves exist," said Larry Nation of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. "The controversy is over how much they contribute to Earth's overall reserves and how much time and effort geologists should devote to seeking them out." [71]

Reservoirs

Hydrocarbon trap. Structural Trap (Anticlinal).svg
Hydrocarbon trap.

Three conditions must be present for oil reservoirs to form:

The reactions that produce oil and natural gas are often modeled as first order breakdown reactions, where hydrocarbons are broken down to oil and natural gas by a set of parallel reactions, and oil eventually breaks down to natural gas by another set of reactions. The latter set is regularly used in petrochemical plants and oil refineries.

Wells are drilled into oil reservoirs to extract the crude oil. "Natural lift" production methods that rely on the natural reservoir pressure to force the oil to the surface are usually sufficient for a while after reservoirs are first tapped. In some reservoirs, such as in the Middle East, the natural pressure is sufficient over a long time. The natural pressure in most reservoirs, however, eventually dissipates. Then the oil must be extracted using "artificial lift" means. Over time, these "primary" methods become less effective and "secondary" production methods may be used. A common secondary method is "waterflood" or injection of water into the reservoir to increase pressure and force the oil to the drilled shaft or "wellbore." Eventually "tertiary" or "enhanced" oil recovery methods may be used to increase the oil's flow characteristics by injecting steam, carbon dioxide and other gases or chemicals into the reservoir. In the United States, primary production methods account for less than 40 percent of the oil produced on a daily basis, secondary methods account for about half, and tertiary recovery the remaining 10 percent. Extracting oil (or "bitumen") from oil/tar sand and oil shale deposits requires mining the sand or shale and heating it in a vessel or retort, or using "in-situ" methods of injecting heated liquids into the deposit and then pumping the liquid back out saturated with oil.

Unconventional oil reservoirs

Oil-eating bacteria biodegrade oil that has escaped to the surface. Oil sands are reservoirs of partially biodegraded oil still in the process of escaping and being biodegraded, but they contain so much migrating oil that, although most of it has escaped, vast amounts are still present—more than can be found in conventional oil reservoirs. The lighter fractions of the crude oil are destroyed first, resulting in reservoirs containing an extremely heavy form of crude oil, called crude bitumen in Canada, or extra-heavy crude oil in Venezuela. These two countries have the world's largest deposits of oil sands.[ citation needed ]

On the other hand, oil shales are source rocks that have not been exposed to heat or pressure long enough to convert their trapped hydrocarbons into crude oil. Technically speaking, oil shales are not always shales and do not contain oil, but are fined-grain sedimentary rocks containing an insoluble organic solid called kerogen. The kerogen in the rock can be converted into crude oil using heat and pressure to simulate natural processes. The method has been known for centuries and was patented in 1694 under British Crown Patent No. 330 covering, "A way to extract and make great quantities of pitch, tar, and oil out of a sort of stone." Although oil shales are found in many countries, the United States has the world's largest deposits. [72]

Classification

Some marker crudes with their sulfur content (horizontal) and API gravity (vertical) and relative production quantity. Crudes.PNG
Some marker crudes with their sulfur content (horizontal) and API gravity (vertical) and relative production quantity.

The petroleum industry generally classifies crude oil by the geographic location it is produced in (e.g., West Texas Intermediate, Brent, or Oman), its API gravity (an oil industry measure of density), and its sulfur content. Crude oil may be considered light if it has low density or heavy if it has high density; and it may be referred to as sweet if it contains relatively little sulfur or sour if it contains substantial amounts of sulfur.[ citation needed ]

The geographic location is important because it affects transportation costs to the refinery. Light crude oil is more desirable than heavy oil since it produces a higher yield of gasoline, while sweet oil commands a higher price than sour oil because it has fewer environmental problems and requires less refining to meet sulfur standards imposed on fuels in consuming countries. Each crude oil has unique molecular characteristics which are revealed by the use of Crude oil assay analysis in petroleum laboratories.[ citation needed ]

Barrels from an area in which the crude oil's molecular characteristics have been determined and the oil has been classified are used as pricing references throughout the world. Some of the common reference crudes are:[ citation needed ]

There are declining amounts of these benchmark oils being produced each year, so other oils are more commonly what is actually delivered. While the reference price may be for West Texas Intermediate delivered at Cushing, the actual oil being traded may be a discounted Canadian heavy oil—Western Canadian Select— delivered at Hardisty, Alberta, and for a Brent Blend delivered at Shetland, it may be a discounted Russian Export Blend delivered at the port of Primorsk. [75]

Industry

Crude oil export treemap (2012) from Harvard Atlas of Economic Complexity. 2012 Crude Oil Export Treemap.png
Crude oil export treemap (2012) from Harvard Atlas of Economic Complexity.
New York Mercantile Exchange prices ($/bbl) for West Texas Intermediate 2000 through Oct 2014. Crude oil price WTI EIA since 2000.svg
New York Mercantile Exchange prices ($/bbl) for West Texas Intermediate 2000 through Oct 2014.

The petroleum industry is involved in the global processes of exploration, extraction, refining, transporting (often with oil tankers and pipelines), and marketing petroleum products. The largest volume products of the industry are fuel oil and gasoline. Petroleum is also the raw material for many chemical products, including pharmaceuticals, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, and plastics. The industry is usually divided into three major components: upstream, midstream and downstream. Midstream operations are usually included in the downstream category.[ citation needed ]

Petroleum is vital to many industries, and is of importance to the maintenance of industrialized civilization itself, and thus is a critical concern to many nations. Oil accounts for a large percentage of the world's energy consumption, ranging from a low of 32 percent for Europe and Asia, up to a high of 53 percent for the Middle East, South and Central America (44%), Africa (41%), and North America (40%). The world at large consumes 30 billion barrels (4.8 km3) of oil per year, and the top oil consumers largely consist of developed nations. In fact, 24 percent of the oil consumed in 2004 went to the United States alone, [77] though by 2007 this had dropped to 21 percent of world oil consumed. [78]

In the US, in the states of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) represents companies responsible for producing, distributing, refining, transporting and marketing petroleum. This non-profit trade association was founded in 1907, and is the oldest petroleum trade association in the United States. [79]

Shipping

In the 1950s, shipping costs made up 33 percent of the price of oil transported from the Persian Gulf to the United States, [80] but due to the development of supertankers in the 1970s, the cost of shipping dropped to only 5 percent of the price of Persian oil in the US. [80] Due to the increase of the value of the crude oil during the last 30 years, the share of the shipping cost on the final cost of the delivered commodity was less than 3% in 2010. For example, in 2010 the shipping cost from the Persian Gulf to the US was in the range of 20 $/t and the cost of the delivered crude oil around 800 $/t.[ citation needed ]

Price

Nominal and inflation-adjusted US dollar price of crude oil, 1861-2015. Crude oil prices since 1861.png
Nominal and inflation-adjusted US dollar price of crude oil, 1861–2015.

After the collapse of the OPEC-administered pricing system in 1985, and a short-lived experiment with netback pricing, oil-exporting countries adopted a market-linked pricing mechanism. First adopted by PEMEX in 1986, market-linked pricing was widely accepted, and by 1988 became and still is the main method for pricing crude oil in international trade. The current reference, or pricing markers, are Brent, WTI, and Dubai/Oman. [81]

Uses

The chemical structure of petroleum is heterogeneous, composed of hydrocarbon chains of different lengths. Because of this, petroleum may be taken to oil refineries and the hydrocarbon chemicals separated by distillation and treated by other chemical processes, to be used for a variety of purposes. The total cost per plant is about 9 billion dollars.

Fuels

The most common distillation fractions of petroleum are fuels. Fuels include (by increasing boiling temperature range): [52]

Common fractions of petroleum as fuels
FractionBoiling range oC
Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)−40
Butane −12 to −1
Gasoline/Petrol−1 to 110
Jet fuel 150 to 205
Kerosene 205 to 260
Fuel oil 205 to 290
Diesel fuel 260 to 315

Petroleum classification according to chemical composition. [82]

Class of petroleumComposition of 250–300 °C fraction,
wt. %
Par.NapthArom.WaxAsph.
Paraffinic46—6122–3212–251.5–100–6
Paraffinic-naphtenic42–4538–3916–201–60–6
Naphthenic15–2661–768–13Trace0–6
Paraffinic-naphtenic-aromatic27–3536–4726–330.5–10–10
Aromatic0–857–7820–250–0.50–20

Other derivatives

Certain types of resultant hydrocarbons may be mixed with other non-hydrocarbons, to create other end products:

Agriculture

Since the 1940s, agricultural productivity has increased dramatically, due largely to the increased use of energy-intensive mechanization, fertilizers and pesticides.

Use by country

Consumption statistics

Consumption

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimate for 2011, the world consumes 87.421 million barrels of oil each day.

Oil consumption per capita (darker colors represent more consumption, gray represents no data) (source: see file description).
> 0.07
0.07-0.05
0.05-0.035
0.035-0.025
0.025-0.02
0.02-0.015
0.015-0.01
0.01-0.005
0.005-0.0015
< 0.0015 OilConsumptionpercapita.png
Oil consumption per capita (darker colors represent more consumption, gray represents no data) (source: see file description).
   > 0.07
  0.07–0.05
  0.05–0.035
  0.035–0.025
  0.025–0.02
  0.02–0.015
  0.015–0.01
  0.01–0.005
  0.005–0.0015
   < 0.0015

This table orders the amount of petroleum consumed in 2011 in thousand barrels (1000 bbl) per day and in thousand cubic metres (1000 m3) per day: [84] [85]

Consuming nation 2011(1000 bbl/
day)
(1000 m3/
day)
Population
in millions
bbl/year
per capita
m3/year
per capita
National production/
consumption
United States 118,835.52,994.631421.83.470.51
China 9,790.01,556.513452.70.430.41
Japan 24,464.1709.712712.82.040.03
India 23,292.2523.4119810.160.26
Russia 13,145.1500.01408.11.293.35
Saudi Arabia (OPEC)2,817.5447.927406.43.64
Brazil 2,594.2412.41934.90.780.99
Germany 22,400.1381.68210.71.700.06
Canada 2,259.1359.23324.63.911.54
South Korea 22,230.2354.64816.82.670.02
Mexico 12,132.7339.11097.11.131.39
France 21,791.5284.86210.51.670.03
Iran (OPEC)1,694.4269.4748.31.322.54
United Kingdom 11,607.9255.6619.51.510.93
Italy 21,453.6231.1608.91.410.10

Source: US Energy Information Administration

Population Data: [86]

1 peak production of oil already passed in this state

2 This country is not a major oil producer

Production

Top oil-producing countries (million barrels per day). Top Oil Producing Countries.png
Top oil-producing countries (million barrels per day).
World map with countries by oil production (information from 2006-2012). Oil producing countries map.png
World map with countries by oil production (information from 2006–2012).

In petroleum industry parlance, production refers to the quantity of crude extracted from reserves, not the literal creation of the product.

CountryOil Production
(bbl/day, 2016) [87]
1Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 10,551,497
2Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia (OPEC)10,460,710
3Flag of the United States.svg  United States 8,875,817
4Flag of Iraq.svg  Iraq (OPEC)4,451,516
5Flag of Iran.svg  Iran (OPEC)3,990,956
6Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China, People's Republic of 3,980,650
7Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 3,662,694
8Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg  United Arab Emirates (OPEC)3,106,077
9Flag of Kuwait.svg  Kuwait (OPEC)2,923,825
10Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil 2,515,459
11Flag of Venezuela.svg  Venezuela (OPEC)2,276,967
12Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico 2,186,877
13Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria (OPEC)1,999,885
14Flag of Angola.svg  Angola (OPEC)1,769,615
15Flag of Norway.svg  Norway 1,647,975
16Flag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan 1,595,199
17Flag of Qatar.svg  Qatar (OPEC)1,522,902
18Flag of Algeria.svg  Algeria (OPEC)1,348,361
19Flag of Oman.svg  Oman 1,006,841
20Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom 939,760

Exportation

Petroleum Exports by Country (2014) from Harvard Atlas of Economic Complexity. 2014 Petroleum Countries Export Treemap.png
Petroleum Exports by Country (2014) from Harvard Atlas of Economic Complexity.
Oil exports by country (barrels per day, 2006). Oil exports.PNG
Oil exports by country (barrels per day, 2006).

In order of net exports in 2011, 2009 and 2006 in thousand bbl/d and thousand m3/d:

#Exporting nation103bbl/d (2011)103m3/d (2011)103bbl/d (2009)103m3/d (2009)103bbl/d (2006)103m3/d (2006)
1 Saudi Arabia (OPEC)8,3361,3257,3221,1648,6511,376
2 Russia 17,0831,1267,1941,1446,5651,044
3 Iran (OPEC)2,5404032,4863952,519401
4 United Arab Emirates (OPEC)2,5244012,3033662,515400
5 Kuwait (OPEC)2,3433732,1243382,150342
6 Nigeria (OPEC)2,2573591,9393082,146341
7 Iraq (OPEC)1,9153041,7642801,438229
8 Angola (OPEC)1,7602801,8782991,363217
9 Norway 11,7522792,1323392,542404
10 Venezuela (OPEC) 11,7152731,7482782,203350
11 Algeria (OPEC) 11,5682491,7672811,847297
12 Qatar (OPEC)1,4682331,066169
13 Canada 21,4052231,1681871,071170
14 Kazakhstan 1,3962221,2992071,114177
15 Azerbaijan 183613391214553285
16 Trinidad and Tobago 1177112167160155199

Source: US Energy Information Administration

1 peak production already passed in this state

2 Canadian statistics are complicated by the fact it is both an importer and exporter of crude oil, and refines large amounts of oil for the U.S. market. It is the leading source of U.S. imports of oil and products, averaging 2,500,000 bbl/d (400,000 m3/d) in August 2007. [88]

Total world production/consumption (as of 2005) is approximately 84 million barrels per day (13,400,000 m3/d).

Importation

Oil imports by country (barrels per day, 2006). Oil imports.PNG
Oil imports by country (barrels per day, 2006).

In order of net imports in 2011, 2009 and 2006 in thousand bbl/d and thousand m3/d:

#Importing nation103bbl/day (2011)103m3/day (2011)103bbl/day (2009)103m3/day (2009)103bbl/day (2006)103m3/day (2006)
1United States 18,7281,3889,6311,53112,2201,943
2China 25,4878724,3286883,438547
3Japan4,3296884,2356735,097810
4India2,3493732,2333551,687268
5Germany2,2353552,3233692,483395
6South Korea2,1703452,1393402,150342
7France1,6972701,7492781,893301
8Spain1,3462141,4392291,555247
9Italy1,2922051,3812201,558248
10Singapore1,172186916146787125
11Republic of China (Taiwan)1,009160944150942150
12Netherlands948151973155936149
13Turkey65010365010357692
14Belgium6341015979554687
15Thailand592945388660696

Source: US Energy Information Administration

1 peak production of oil expected in 2020 [89]

2 Major oil producer whose production is still increasing[ citation needed ]

Oil imports to the United States by country 2010

Oil imports to US, 2010. Oilimportsus2010.svg
Oil imports to US, 2010.

Non-producing consumers

Countries whose oil production is 10% or less of their consumption.

#Consuming nation(bbl/day)(m3/day)
1Japan5,578,000886,831
2Germany2,677,000425,609
3South Korea2,061,000327,673
4France2,060,000327,514
5Italy1,874,000297,942
6Spain1,537,000244,363
7Netherlands946,700150,513
8Turkey575,01191,663

Source: CIA World Factbook [ failed verification ]

Environmental effects

Diesel fuel spill on a road. Dieselrainbow.jpg
Diesel fuel spill on a road.

Because petroleum is a naturally occurring substance, its presence in the environment need not be the result of human causes such as accidents and routine activities (seismic exploration, drilling, extraction, refining and combustion). Phenomena such as seeps [90] and tar pits are examples of areas that petroleum affects without man's involvement. Regardless of source, petroleum's effects when released into the environment are similar.

Ocean acidification

Seawater acidification. Carbonate system of seawater.svg
Seawater acidification.

Ocean acidification is the increase in the acidity of the Earth's oceans caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO
2
) from the atmosphere. This increase in acidity inhibits all marine life – having a greater impact on smaller organisms as well as shelled organisms (see scallops). [91]

Global warming

When burned, petroleum releases carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Along with the burning of coal, petroleum combustion may be the largest contributor to the increase in atmospheric CO2. [92] [93] Atmospheric CO2 has risen over the last 150 years to current levels of over 390  ppmv, from the 180 – 300 ppmv of the prior 800 thousand years [94] [95] [96] This rise in temperature has reduced the Arctic ice cap to 1,100,000 sq mi (2,800,000 km2),[ citation needed ] smaller than ever recorded. [97] Because of this melt, more oil reserves have been revealed. About 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil resides in the Arctic. [98]

Extraction

Oil extraction is simply the removal of oil from the reservoir (oil pool). Oil is often recovered as a water-in-oil emulsion, and specialty chemicals called demulsifiers are used to separate the oil from water. Oil extraction is costly and sometimes environmentally damaging. Offshore exploration and extraction of oil disturbs the surrounding marine environment. [99]

Oil spills

Oil-spill.jpg
Kelp after an oil spill.
Oil Slick in the Timor Sea September-2009.jpg
Oil slick from the Montara oil spill in the Timor Sea, September, 2009.
PrestigeVolunteersInGaliciaCoast.jpg
Volunteers cleaning up the aftermath of the Prestige oil spill.

Crude oil and refined fuel spills from tanker ship accidents have damaged natural ecosystems in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, the Galápagos Islands, France and many other places.

The quantity of oil spilled during accidents has ranged from a few hundred tons to several hundred thousand tons (e.g., Deepwater Horizon oil spill, SS Atlantic Empress, Amoco Cadiz). Smaller spills have already proven to have a great impact on ecosystems, such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Oil spills at sea are generally much more damaging than those on land, since they can spread for hundreds of nautical miles in a thin oil slick which can cover beaches with a thin coating of oil. This can kill sea birds, mammals, shellfish and other organisms it coats. Oil spills on land are more readily containable if a makeshift earth dam can be rapidly bulldozed around the spill site before most of the oil escapes, and land animals can avoid the oil more easily.

Control of oil spills is difficult, requires ad hoc methods, and often a large amount of manpower. The dropping of bombs and incendiary devices from aircraft on the SS Torrey Canyon wreck produced poor results; [100] modern techniques would include pumping the oil from the wreck, like in the Prestige oil spill or the Erika oil spill. [101]

Though crude oil is predominantly composed of various hydrocarbons, certain nitrogen heterocylic compounds, such as pyridine, picoline, and quinoline are reported as contaminants associated with crude oil, as well as facilities processing oil shale or coal, and have also been found at legacy wood treatment sites. These compounds have a very high water solubility, and thus tend to dissolve and move with water. Certain naturally occurring bacteria, such as Micrococcus , Arthrobacter , and Rhodococcus have been shown to degrade these contaminants. [102]

Tarballs

A tarball is a blob of crude oil (not to be confused with tar, which is a man-made product derived from pine trees or refined from petroleum) which has been weathered after floating in the ocean. Tarballs are an aquatic pollutant in most environments, although they can occur naturally, for example in the Santa Barbara Channel of California [103] [104] or in the Gulf of Mexico off Texas. [105] Their concentration and features have been used to assess the extent of oil spills. Their composition can be used to identify their sources of origin, [106] [107] and tarballs themselves may be dispersed over long distances by deep sea currents. [104] They are slowly decomposed by bacteria, including Chromobacterium violaceum , Cladosporium resinae , Bacillus submarinus , Micrococcus varians , Pseudomonas aeruginosa , Candida marina and Saccharomyces estuari . [103]

Whales

James S. Robbins has argued that the advent of petroleum-refined kerosene saved some species of great whales from extinction by providing an inexpensive substitute for whale oil, thus eliminating the economic imperative for open-boat whaling. [108]

Alternatives

In the United States in 2007 about 70 percent of petroleum was used for transportation (e.g. gasoline, diesel, jet fuel), 24 percent by industry (e.g. production of plastics), 5 percent for residential and commercial uses, and 2 percent for electricity production. [109] Outside of the US, a higher proportion of petroleum tends to be used for electricity. [110]

Vehicle fuels

Petroleum-based vehicle fuels can be replaced by either alternative fuels, or other methods of propulsion such as electric or nuclear.

Brazilian fuel station with four alternative fuels for sale: diesel (B3), gasohol (E25), neat ethanol (E100), and compressed natural gas (CNG). Piracicaba 10 2008 151 Gast station selling four fuels.jpg
Brazilian fuel station with four alternative fuels for sale: diesel (B3), gasohol (E25), neat ethanol (E100), and compressed natural gas (CNG).

Alternative fuel vehicles refers to both:

Industrial oils

Biological feedstocks do exist for industrial uses such as Bioplastic production. [111]

Electricity

In oil producing countries with little refinery capacity, oil is sometimes burned to produce electricity. Renewable energy technologies such as solar power, wind power, micro hydro, biomass and biofuels are used, but the primary alternatives remain large-scale hydroelectricity, nuclear and coal-fired generation.

Future production

US oil production and imports, 1910-2012. US Crude Oil Production and Imports.svg
US oil production and imports, 1910-2012.

Consumption in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has been abundantly pushed by automobile sector growth. The 1985–2003 oil glut even fueled the sales of low fuel economy vehicles in OECD countries. The 2008 economic crisis seems to have had some impact on the sales of such vehicles; still, in 2008 oil consumption showed a small increase.

In 2016 Goldman Sachs predicted lower demand for oil due to emerging economies concerns, especially China. [112] The BRICS (Brasil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) countries might also kick in, as China briefly was the first automobile market in December 2009. [113] The immediate outlook still hints upwards. In the long term, uncertainties linger; the OPEC believes that the OECD countries will push low consumption policies at some point in the future; when that happens, it will definitely curb oil sales, and both OPEC and the Energy Information Administration (EIA) kept lowering their 2020 consumption estimates during the past five years. [114] A detailed review of International Energy Agency oil projections have revealed that revisions of world oil production, price and investments have been motivated by a combination of demand and supply factors. [115] All together, Non-OPEC conventional projections have been fairly stable the last 15 years, while downward revisions were mainly allocated to OPEC. Recent upward revisions are primarily a result of US tight oil.

Production will also face an increasingly complex situation; while OPEC countries still have large reserves at low production prices, newly found reservoirs often lead to higher prices; offshore giants such as Tupi, Guara and Tiber demand high investments and ever-increasing technological abilities. Subsalt reservoirs such as Tupi were unknown in the twentieth century, mainly because the industry was unable to probe them. Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) techniques (example: DaQing, China [116] ) will continue to play a major role in increasing the world's recoverable oil.

The expected availability of petroleum resources has always been around 35 years or even less since the start of the modern exploration. The oil constant, an insider pun in the German industry, refers to that effect. [117]

Peak oil

Global peak oil forecast. GlobalPeakOilForecast.jpg
Global peak oil forecast.

Peak oil is a term applied to the projection that future petroleum production (whether for individual oil wells, entire oil fields, whole countries, or worldwide production) will eventually peak and then decline at a similar rate to the rate of increase before the peak as these reserves are exhausted. The peak of oil discoveries was in 1965, and oil production per year has surpassed oil discoveries every year since 1980. [118] However, this does not mean that potential oil production has surpassed oil demand.

Hubbert applied his theory to accurately predict the peak of U.S. conventional oil production at a date between 1966 and 1970. This prediction was based on data available at the time of his publication in 1956. In the same paper, Hubbert predicts world peak oil in "half a century" after his publication, which would be 2006. [119]

It is difficult to predict the oil peak in any given region, due to the lack of knowledge and/or transparency in accounting of global oil reserves. [120] Based on available production data, proponents have previously predicted the peak for the world to be in years 1989, 1995, or 1995–2000. Some of these predictions date from before the recession of the early 1980s, and the consequent reduction in global consumption, the effect of which was to delay the date of any peak by several years. Just as the 1971 U.S. peak in oil production was only clearly recognized after the fact, a peak in world production will be difficult to discern until production clearly drops off. [121] The peak is also a moving target as it is now measured as "liquids", which includes synthetic fuels, instead of just conventional oil. [122]

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in 2010 that production of conventional crude oil had peaked in 2006 at 70 MBBL/d, then flattened at 68 or 69 thereafter. [123] [124] Since virtually all economic sectors rely heavily on petroleum, peak oil, if it were to occur, could lead to a "partial or complete failure of markets". [125] In the mid-2000s, widespread fears of an imminent peak led to the "peak oil movement," in which over one hundred thousand Americans prepared, individually and collectively, for the "post-carbon" future. [126]

Unconventional oil

Unconventional oil is petroleum produced or extracted using techniques other than the conventional methods. [127] [128] The calculus for peak oil has changed with the introduction of unconventional production methods. In particular, the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has resulted in a significant increase in production from previously uneconomic plays. [129] Analysts expected that $150 billion would be spent on further developing North American tight oil fields in 2015. The large increase in tight oil production is one of the reasons behind the price drop in late 2014. [130] Certain rock strata contain hydrocarbons but have low permeability and are not thick from a vertical perspective. Conventional vertical wells would be unable to economically retrieve these hydrocarbons. Horizontal drilling, extending horizontally through the strata, permits the well to access a much greater volume of the strata. Hydraulic fracturing creates greater permeability and increases hydrocarbon flow to the wellbore.

See also

Notes

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Oil sands, tar sands, crude bitumen, or more technically bituminous sands, are a type of unconventional petroleum deposit. Oil sands are either loose sands or partially consolidated sandstone containing a naturally occurring mixture of sand, clay, and water, saturated with a dense and extremely viscous form of petroleum technically referred to as bitumen. The oil sands have long been referred to as tar sands; however, industry groups dispute this name due to its negative environmental associations.

Abiogenic petroleum origin is a body of hypotheses which propose that petroleum and natural gas deposits are mostly formed by inorganic means, rather than by the decomposition of organisms. Thomas Gold's deep gas hypothesis states that the origin of some natural gas deposits were formed out of hydrocarbons deep in the earth's mantle. Theories explaining the origin of petroleum as abiotic, however, are generally not well accepted by the scientific community.

Unconventional oil is petroleum produced or extracted using techniques other than the conventional method. Oil industries and governments across the globe are investing in unconventional oil sources due to the increasing scarcity of conventional oil reserves. Unconventional oil and gas have already made a dent in international energy linkages by reducing US energy import dependency.

Oil reserves proven oil reserves in the ground

Oil reserves denote the amount of crude oil that can be technically recovered at a cost that is financially feasible at the present price of oil. Hence reserves will change with the price, unlike oil resources, which include all oil that can be technically recovered at any price. Reserves may be for a well, a reservoir, a field, a nation, or the world. Different classifications of reserves are related to their degree of certainty.

Petroleum coke

Petroleum coke, abbreviated coke or petcoke, is a final carbon-rich solid material that derives from oil refining, and is one type of the group of fuels referred to as cokes. Petcoke is the coke that, in particular, derives from a final cracking process—a thermo-based chemical engineering process that splits long chain hydrocarbons of petroleum into shorter chains—that takes place in units termed coker units. Stated succinctly, coke is the "carbonization product of high-boiling hydrocarbon fractions obtained in petroleum processing ." Petcoke is also produced in the production of synthetic crude oil (syncrude) from bitumen extracted from Canada’s oil sands and from Venezuela's Orinoco oil sands.

Heavy crude oil is highly-viscous oil that cannot easily flow to production wells under normal reservoir conditions.

Petroleum reservoir

A petroleum reservoir or oil and gas reservoir is a subsurface pool of hydrocarbons contained in porous or fractured rock formations. Petroleum reservoirs are broadly classified as conventional and unconventional reservoirs. In case of conventional reservoirs, the naturally occurring hydrocarbons, such as crude oil or natural gas, are trapped by overlying rock formations with lower permeability. While in unconventional reservoirs the rocks have high porosity and low permeability which keeps the hydrocarbons trapped in place, therefore not requiring a cap rock. Reservoirs are found using hydrocarbon exploration methods.

Asphaltene Heavy organic molecular substances that are found in crude oil,

Asphaltenes are molecular substances that are found in crude oil, along with resins, aromatic hydrocarbons, and saturates. The word "asphaltene" was coined by Boussingault in 1837 when he noticed that the distillation residue of some bitumens had asphalt-like properties. Asphaltenes in the form of asphalt or bitumen products from oil refineries are used as paving materials on roads, shingles for roofs, and waterproof coatings on building foundations.

An oil is any nonpolar chemical substance that is a viscous liquid at ambient temperatures and is both hydrophobic and lipophilic. Oils have a high carbon and hydrogen content and are usually flammable and surface active.

Renewable fuels are fuels produced from renewable resources. Examples include: biofuels and Hydrogen fuel. This is in contrast to non-renewable fuels such as natural gas, LPG (propane), petroleum and other fossil fuels and nuclear energy. Renewable fuels can include fuels that are synthesized from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. Renewable fuels have gained in popularity due to their sustainability, low contributions to the carbon cycle, and in some cases lower amounts of greenhouse gases. The geo-political ramifications of these fuels are also of interest, particularly to industrialized economies which desire independence from Middle Eastern oil.

Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin

The Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) is a vast sedimentary basin underlying 1,400,000 square kilometres (540,000 sq mi) of Western Canada including southwestern Manitoba, southern Saskatchewan, Alberta, northeastern British Columbia and the southwest corner of the Northwest Territories. It consists of a massive wedge of sedimentary rock extending from the Rocky Mountains in the west to the Canadian Shield in the east. This wedge is about 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) thick under the Rocky Mountains, but thins to zero at its eastern margins. The WCSB contains one of the world's largest reserves of petroleum and natural gas and supplies much of the North American market, producing more than 16,000,000,000 cubic feet (450,000,000 m3) per day of gas in 2000. It also has huge reserves of coal. Of the provinces and territories within the WCSB, Alberta has most of the oil and gas reserves and almost all of the oil sands.

Extraction of petroleum removal of petroleum from the earth

The extraction of petroleum is the process by which usable petroleum is drawn out from beneath the earth's surface location.

Canada's oil sands and heavy oil resources are among the world's great petroleum deposits. They include the vast oil sands of northern Alberta, and the heavy oil reservoirs that surround the small city of Lloydminster, which sits on the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan. The extent of these resources is well known, but better technologies to produce oil from them are still being developed.

Predicting the timing of peak oil

Peak oil is the point at which oil production, sometimes including unconventional oil sources, hits its maximum. Predicting the timing of peak oil involves estimation of future production from existing oil fields as well as future discoveries. The most influential production model is Hubbert peak theory, first proposed in the 1950s. The effect of peak oil on the world economy remains controversial.

Safaniya Oil Field oilfield in Saudi Arabia

Safaniya Oil Field, operated and owned by Saudi Aramco, is the largest offshore oil field in the world. It is located about 265 kilometres (165 mi) north of the company headquarters in Dhahran on the coast of the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia. Measuring 50 by 15 kilometres, the field has a producing capability of more than 1.2 million barrels per day.

Tight oil light crude oil contained in petroleum-bearing formations of low permeability, often shale or tight sandstone

Tight oil is light crude oil contained in petroleum-bearing formations of low permeability, often shale or tight sandstone. Economic production from tight oil formations requires the same hydraulic fracturing and often uses the same horizontal well technology used in the production of shale gas. While sometimes called "shale oil", tight oil should not be confused with oil shale, which is shale rich in kerogen, or shale oil, which is oil produced from oil shales. Therefore, the International Energy Agency recommends using the term "light tight oil" for oil produced from shales or other very low permeability formations, while the World Energy Resources 2013 report by the World Energy Council uses the terms "tight oil" and "shale-hosted oil".

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