We explain what petroleum oil is, how it originated, the types there are and their properties. Also, what are its characteristics and various uses.
Petroleum (from the Latin petra , "stone", and oleum , "oil") is a bituminous substance, dark in color and viscous texture . It is composed of a mixture of organic hydrocarbons insoluble in water . It is a non-renewable natural resource of gigantic economic value.
Although petroleum oil has been known since ancient times , it was only with the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century that the scope of its capabilities was understood. It began to be valued as a raw material and source of energy and it began to be called black or crude gold .
Today it is used as a source of obtaining complex materials (derivatives) or fossil fuels such as gasoline. Many countries subsist on the exploitation of this resource and international petroleum oil prices are a source of stability or conflict in many regions of the planet .
On the other hand, petroleum oil and its derivatives have a very high environmental impact . Extraction, the burning of fossil fuels, the mass production of plastics and petroleum oil spills are the dark side of this material .
This "collateral damage" has a negative impact on life on the planet and on the stability of the climate . They lead to the destruction of ecosystems and an increase in greenhouse gases . It has been proven that it causes the acceleration of global warming , that is, climate change.
The origin of this substance is unknown for sure, but there are two theories about it .
One theory considers it a hydrocarbon of fossil origin , that is, the product of the millenary accumulation of large amounts of organic matter. This matter can come from zooplankton and algae , belonging to ancient desiccated lake regions. Over the centuries, the anoxic bottoms (without oxygen ) of these dried up lakes and rivers were covered by layers of sediment.
Thus, the pressure and heat conditions were generated that in theory unleashed the chemical and physical transformation processes. Due to this natural cracking the organic matter was converted into new substances: bitumen, natural gases and oil.
The other theory about its origin considers that it comes from abiogenetic sources , that is, not from organic matter. This position has the support of only the minority of scholars on the subject, since it does not explain many of the contents of petroleum oil, which is clearly organic in nature.
Petroleum Oil, as we have said, is a highly varied mixture of hydrocarbons, which includes the following:
The following types of oil are distinguished, based on their API gravity (scale created by the American Petroleoum Institute), that is, their density:
Its enormous caloric power reaches 11,000 kilocalories per kilogram . These properties will vary according to the type of oil.
To achieve these products, crude is subjected to various refining and distillation processes , such as fractional distillation. Thanks to these processes it is possible to separate and extract its different ingredients.
The petrochemical and refining industry takes care of this, offering raw materials to various secondary industries : pharmaceuticals, automotive, manufacturing, gas, detergents, lubricants, etc.
In addition, it is the main ingredient in fuels , which support various types of human transport on land , air and sea . Petroleum Oil is one of the most useful substances discovered by man .
Oil deposits are found in the lower layers of the earth's crust . From there, the liquid can be extracted using various techniques, according to the nature of the soil and the geographical arrangement, which can be on land or on the seabed or rivers, lakes, etc.
The form of extraction also depends on the type of crude , since some are heavier than others (see point 3).
Its effects can be quite long-lasting and its compounds can pass into the body of animals , entering the food chain . In addition, they can obstruct the photosynthesis of plants , deteriorating animal life by contact or preventing species from behaving in an ordinary way.
Its objective is to achieve joint action in favor of the stability of oil prices . The danger of a fluctuating market is that it causes inequities, poverty and economic crisis not only in the countries that comprise it, but in the rest of the planet.
Currently fourteen countries are members of OPEC : Angola, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Qatar, Ecuador, United Arab Emirates, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria and Venezuela.
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