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Petroleum. What is petroleum used for?

Petroleum is one of our most important fuels, and the petroleum industry is one of the largest in the world. The United States, Russia and Venezuela are the largest producers. Countries in the Middle East also produce large quantities, and they have the greatest known reserves of petroleum, too.

What is petroleum used for? When petroleum is released from impurity, its various chemical parts are separated and some become lubricants, some asphalt, some gasoline, and other interesting materials for rubber, plastics and other. Petroleum may be used for many things, for example: natural gas, crude oil, viscous etc. More details about it are possible to read below.

What is petroleum used for: A steel pipe - Petroleum engineering training:

Petroleum engineering training: Engineers drill for petroleum in the Libyan desert - What is petroleum used for

What is petroleum used for:

A steel pipe is being lowered 3,730 feet into the ground from a tall oil derrick in Gomez, Texas. The pipe, which has a diameter of 20 inches, is put together in sections and lowered into the hole that has been dug by drills.

Petroleum engineering training:

Engineers drill for petroleum in the Libyan desert. The money earned by Libya for its petroleum, which was discovered in the 1950's, has greatly increased the wealth of the country and led to a fast rise in the living standards of the people

By refining crude petroleum in various ways, we obtain gasoline, or gas, for our automobiles; fuel oils for heating and producing power in ships, industry and diesel engines; kerosene (paraffin) for jet and rocket engines and for home heating; and all kinds of oil and greases to lubricate machinery. In addition, we obtain a host of useful chemicals, called petrochemicals, by processing petroleum.

Petroleum, often simply called oil, is a complicated mixture of substances called hydrocarbons, which are compounds of hydrogen and carbon only. It was formed millions of years ago from the remains of animals and plants, which lived in the seas.

The remains decayed and were buried by layer upon layer of mud and sand, which turned into rock. Heat, pressure and decay changed the remains into drops of oil and also natural gas.
A lot of the oil and gas worked its way through porous rock to the surface and escaped. But much was trapped in non-porous rock layers.

What is petroleum used for: typical modern oil tanker

What is petroleum used for: Alaska

A cross-section of a typical modern oil tanker shows how much space is devoted to the storage of oil.

Petroleum is found in many parts of the world. This tall oil derrick is in Alaska, where great deposits of petroleum were found in 1969. The United States is the world's leading petroleum producer

In a fault trap, oil has accumulated behind a wedge of non-porous rock which has slipped down into the oil-bearing rock layer. Oil may also be trapped in the top of a rock fold or where an oil-bearing layer tapers to a wedge. It may also collect on top of huge domes of salt thrust up from deep underground.

What is petroleum used for: distillation process

Petroleum engineering training: Seismographs

What is petroleum used for:

In the primary distillation process, hot crude oil is fed in at the foot of the fractionating column and mixed with steam. Various constituents, or fractions, of the crude oil separate at various points of the column

Petroleum engineering training:

Seismographs are used in oil exploration. Shock waves caused by an explosion are reflected back to the ground from the surfaces between the different layers of rock. In the picture, an anticline (upfold) has been found

Prospecting, or looking for petroleum, is a skilled job and petroleum engineering training is the important work which should be spent with all workers. Oil geologists do not look for oil directly but they try to find traps in which oil may lie. They use a variety of instruments to help them, including magnetometers and gravity meters. But their most useful instrument is the seismograph. The oil prospector sets off an explosion and records the vibrations at various distances by seismograph. This will tell him the shape and depth of underlying rocks.

When the oilmen decide to drill for oil, they set up a tall derrick to hoist equipment into the drill hole. Most oil wells are bored by rotary drilling. The drill consists of lengths of pipe joined together, with a sharp cutting bit at the bottom. A steel turntable on the derrick floor grips and turns the pipe. A liquid drilling mud is pumped through the pipe to cool the bit and to flush out rock cuttings. The well is lined with casing as it is drilled.

What is petroleum used for: A de-gassing station

What is petroleum used for:  A petrochemical plant at Longview

A de-gassing station seen through a heat haze caused by flares from burning gas

A petrochemical plant at Longview, Texas.

When oil is found, it usually flows to the surface naturally. Water below, or compressed gas above, pushes the oil out of the well. The crude oil is taken from the wells to oil refineries, often in different countries, to be processed. Pipelines and tankers are means of transporting the oil.

What is petroleum used for? At the refinery, the first step in processing is distillation, or fractionating, which separates the crude oil into its constituents, or fractions. The oil is heated in a furnace and passed into a fractionating column. The fractions separate into different trays in the column according to their boiling points. Gasoline and light oils condense at the top, heavy fuel oils at the bottom.

The heavy oils can be cracked, or broken down, into useful products such as gasoline. In thermal cracking, they are broken down by heat and pressure. In catalytic cracking, they are heated with a catalyst - a substance which helps the reaction but does not itself change.

The gaseous fractions from the column and from cracking can be 'built up' into gasoline. Polymerization and alkylation are processes in which the small gas molecules combine to form larger ones. These gases are also used as a starting point to make petrochemicals. They are converted into plastics and synthetic rubber, solvents for paints, antifreeze mixtures, and man-made fibers.

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