Crude oil in barrel
Crude oil is a dirty and polluting fuel source. According to the Energy Information Administration
69% of all the crude oil we use is for transportation. Refiners can only produce 20 gallons of gas from every 42 gallon barrel of crude oil. The rest of the barrel gets turned into other products like diesel fuel, heating oil, jet fuel, and propane. American use about 385 million gallons of gasoline every day. Only 50% is produced domestically, the rest is imported from other countries.
The crude oil industry began in American on August 27, 1859 when Edwin L Drake drilled a 69 1/ 2 half feet well and hit oil near Titusville PA. However crude oil use goes back much farther. In 3000 BC Mesopotamians used rock oil for architectural adhesives, ship caulks, medicines, and roads.
Then in 2000 BC the Chinese refined crude oil for use in lamps and in heating homes.
In 1264 Marco Polo visited the Persian city of Baku and saw crude oil being collected from seeps on the ground. Moving from seeps on the surface to shallow pits and then to hand dug holes up to 115 feet deep in 1594. This could be considered the first crude oil well.
Up until the 1800’s most light came from animal fat. Whale oil because it burned with less odor and smoke was very popular. This whale oil was made from the oil in the nose of a sperm whale. It was very expensive at about 2 dollars per gallon.
In today’s dollars this would cost over 200 dollars a gallon. In 1856 the Unites States at the height of the industry made 4 to 5 million gallons and 6 to 10 million gallons of train oil. In 1857 a clean burning kerosene lamp was invented by Michael Dietz. With this new invention pretty much over night the old whale oil burning lamps fell in popularity. The new and much cheaper kerosene lamps took over as the main source of light.
Raw crude oil and it products were used pretty much just for lamps and burning in steam powered equipment. Then in 1879 when Thomas Edison invented the light bulb this eliminated the need for kerosene. The crude oil industry went into a recession. When kerosene was distilled from crude oil, all the other products that came from it were just thrown out.
Then in 1888 when Karl Benz invented the first car the crude oil industry had a new use. In 1893 the first American car was invented by Frank and Charles Duryea. It also ran gasoline. By the 1920’s American had over 9 million cars on the road.
Compare this to over 125 million now. Wow that is a lot of cars. By the 1950’s crude oil had become our most used fuel. In 1960’s OPEC was formed by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. The group has grown to 11 countries total now.
In 1973 the United States had the first oil embargo. Several countries in OPEC stop selling crude oil to the US because of our support for Israel in the Israel Arab war. OPEC cut production by 25 %. This caused temporally shortages and tripled the price. Some gas stations ran out of fuel, while other had long lines of people waiting.
Then in 1978 – 80 crude oil prices doubled due to the Iranian Revolution. This caused 3.9 million barrels a day shortage. The other counties in OPEC eventually increased production to help out.
Then in 1981 it happened again and prices double yet another time. This really goes to show you how vulnerable we are to other countries drama when we rely on them to power our lives.
The high prices caused less oil to be consumed and crude oil production began to slow. OPEC didn’t like that. So in 1986 Saudi Arabia stopped holding back production and flooded the market with cheap oil. The excess flow of crude oil caused the price to be cut in half.
Through out the late 80’s and early 90’s oil consumption quickly grew due to the cheap price. Today after so many years of cheap oil, it is coming back to bite us. The price has hit record levels. We need to use a better energy source than this.
What it is oil? Well Crude oil is an oily, flammable liquid that is found in nature. Usually underground, but sometimes it seeps up to the surface. Over millions of years, plant and animal remains fall to the bottom of shallow bodies of water. As the water recedes the remains are covered with dirt and sediment layers. It can be clay, silt or other plant material. With the lack of oxygen this material partially decomposes and forms crude oil.
There are several products in a barrel of crude oil. Each product is refined and evaporates at a different temperature. This is how it works. Crude oil is heated and the vapors are sorted with a distillation column. This helps to separate the gases by vapor temperature.
The first product to burn off are gases used for cooking, heating and plastics. Next is Naphtha or Ligroin. This is similar to gasoline and with later be converted back into it. Next is gasoline. Then Kerosene. Then Diesel fuel. Next is lubricating oil, then fuel oil, then finally tar and asphalt. This process goes from lightest to heaviest sorted by temperature.
As you can see there are many products in a barrel of crude oil. This process ranges in temperate from 68 degrees Fahrenheit for cooking gas to 158 degrees F for gasoline to 392 degrees F for diesel fuel all the way up to 1112 degree F for tar. We use these products to make so much of our stuff from fuels to roads to plastic goods.
The advantages of crude oil are these. It was readily available. It is convenient energy source to run cars on. Gasoline is easy to transport. It has been cheap for so long. Plus it was way cheaper than whale oil.
However today the disadvantage of crude oil far out way the advantages. Smoke, pollution, and green house gases are created from burning it. There is a limited amount and we are running out. We rely on foreign sources for our needs. Usually war is used to secure our interests. Just like what we are doing now in Iraq. Plus the price of crude oil keeps rising and it’s getting expensive.
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