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What is Petroleum?

Petroleum is also known as ‘Black Gold.’ This name provides a clear indication as to how important Petroleum is for everyone. Students should also know that crude oil is also considered to be a highly valued commodity.

It is also referred to as the ‘mother of all commodities.’ This is mainly due to the fact that crude oil is used for the production of gasoline, plastics, pharmaceutical products, synthetic fabrics, and many other things. Petroleum or oil has also been the leading source of energy in the entire world since the 1950s!

Petroleum is usually found in the form of a liquid that occurs naturally during rock formation. It consists of a complex mixture of several molecules of hydrocarbons and other organic compounds. Fossil fuels are also used for obtaining some chemical compounds that are produced by petroleum.

Petrochemicals are produced at only a few manufacturing sites around the world! This means that the use of petroleum as a raw material is highly valuable. One might also find it interesting to note that the word petroleum basically translates to ‘rock oil.’ This word is derived from the Greek word ‘petra’ and the Latin word ‘oleum.’

Petroleum is known as crude oil when it is directly drilled from the ground. Even though human beings have existed on Earth for the last 4000 years, crude oil was pumped from the ground only around 2500 years ago in China. Students should remember that the first crude oil well in the world was drilled in Pennsylvania, United States of America (USA) in 1859.

Also, when it comes to India, then Petroleum or mineral oil is the biggest energy source that is available right after coal. Petroleum is used for supplying heat, lighting power, lubricants for machines, and raw materials for several other products that are required in the manufacturing industry.

Petroleum refineries for fertilizers, synthetic fabric, and other chemical industries also act the role of a ‘nodal industry.’ A large chunk of India's petroleum also occurs in association with anticlines and fault traps in the tertiary age rock formation. It is known to be present in anticlines, domes, folding regions, and where oil is stuck in unfold crests.

What is Petroleum Refining?

According to several sources, petroleum refineries are huge industrial complexes that require lots of processing units and auxiliary installations, including storage tanks and utility units. In this section, we will explain the process of formation of petroleum.

Petroleum refineries also have their specific arrangements and a combination of processes that are required for refining. This process is also largely dependent on the location of the refinery, the economic considerations, and the target products.

Similarly, an oil or petroleum refinery is part of the facility of industrial manufacturing. This is where crude oil is successfully extracted and converted into goods that have a higher value, including gasoline, jet fuel, petroleum naphtha, heating oil, asphalt foundation, liquefied gas, and petroleum kerosene.

It should be noted that in most cases, oil refineries are rather huge. These refineries have massive industrial facilities that are built with extensive pipelines that are running throughout the refinery while holding fluid streams in between.

Students should remember that because of several factors, there are no two refineries that are identical to one another. That being said, there are several characteristics related to petroleum and its refiners that students should be familiar with. Some of those characteristics are:

  • Petroleum is a mixture of several subjects, including kerosene, diesel, gas, petrol, paraffin wax, and lubricating oil.

  • It is important to separate all the constituents of petroleum. This process is known as the refining of crude oil. It is also referred to as the petroleum refining process.

  • Petroleum refining is done in oil refineries and there are three main steps required during the process.

  • In the first step, one has to separate the crude oil into several components by going through the distillation process, During the distillation process, the heavier constituents remain at the bottom while the lighter particulars will rise in the form of vapour of remaining liquid.

  • After that, the components that are very heavy are converted into a gaseous form, diesel, or gasoline. The last step is known as the conversion.

  • There are also several impurities in the products that are received till now. These impurities are removed or treated to obtain the purest form of all the products.

It is important to mention here that the oldest and common way of separating anything into its different parts, components, or factions is with the help of the boiling temperature difference. That process is known as fractional distillation.

There is also a method known as conversion. In this method, chemical processing is used on certain fractions. This helps those components produce other components. This explains the answer to the question of how is petroleum extracted. A good example of this is how chemical processing can help in splitting lengthier chains into smaller chains.

In the final examination, students can be asked to draw a clear diagram of a petroleum refinery. This is why it is suggested that students should go prepared for this question by referring to the image that is attached below.

Students should also remember that in the industry, the refining process is normally known as the ‘downstream’ sector. On the other hand, the ‘upstream’ section has the raw crude oil output. Here, the term downstream is somewhat similar to the idea of sending oil down the supply chain for the idea of sending oil down the supply chain for a commodity.

This is sent to an oil refinery so that the product can be refined into petrol. The downstream phase also consists of the actual sale of petroleum products. This is done to other companies, private individuals, and the government.

The Formation of Petroleum in Nature

It should be noted that petroleum is formed for the remains of dead animals and plants. This happens when any plant or animal dies and they sink to settle on the seabed. After that, it takes millions of years for that life to decompose of organic matter that is mixed with silt and salt.

There are also different bacterias that help in the decomposition of organic matter. It results in various important chemical changes. During the refining process, components that are usually left behind are hydrogen and carbon atoms of larger size.

Also, when it comes to the bottom of the sea, then the matter is not sufficiently decomposed. This is due to a lack of oxygen. It remains on the seabed and is covered by several layers of slip and sand. This entire process of refining takes millions of years of high pressure and temperature. But whenever it does happen, the organic matters decompose and form oil. Students should be familiar with petroleum refining by-products and their uses. Remembering the petroleum products list is also helpful.

Fun Facts about the Uses of Petroleum

Did you know that there are several uses of petroleum? This is true and we have created a list of all the major uses of petroleum. And that list is mentioned below.

  • LPG or Liquefied Petroleum Gas is used every day in the households and professional industry.

  • Petrol and diesel as used in vehicles as fuels. When it comes to heavy motor vehicles, then diesel is preferred.

  • Petrol is used in the dry cleaning process as a solver. Diesel, on the other hand, can be used for running generators.

  • Jet planes and stoves rely on kerosene as their fuels.

  • Wear, tear, and corrosion of machines can be reduced by using lubricants.

  • Ointments, ink, candles, and crayons can be made by using paraffin wax.

  • Roads are made by using asphalt or Bitumen.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Question 1. Describe the Process of Petroleum Refinement or Define Refining of Petroleum.

Answer: Petroleum or oil refining can be aptly described as an automated process. In this procedure, crude oil is removed from the earth and is converted into several important items. Some of those items are cooking oil, heating oil, jet fuel, diesel, kerosene, and asphalt foundation. This is how petroleum is formed.

Question 2. What do You Understand by Petroleum? Mention Some of its Uses.

Answer: Petroleum can be used as heating oil, aviation fuel, electricity-generating oil, road tar, and asphalt. It also helps in producing plastics, additives, and other industrial materials that everyone needs.

Question 3. Mention the Chemical Formula for Petrol.

Answer: The basic chemical formula for petrol meaning is CnH2n+2. This petrol chemical formula is also applicable when it comes to alkanes. This is mainly due to the fact that this formula contains several chemical bonds. One should also remember that the chemical formula for petrol can also be changed. This is why a different answer can be given to the question of define petrol.