Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Formation of Oil in the Earth’s Surface

Oil is one of three fossil fuels found in the earth’s surface formed about 300 millions of years ago before the time of the dinosaurs during the Carboniferous Period. At the time, the land was covered with swamps filled with huge trees, ferns, large leafy plants and rich vegetation. The oceans were filled with algae another form of vegetation made up of billions of tiny plants. On the land, as the trees and plants died and fell to the bottom of the swamp, they formed layers of a spongy material known as peat. Then over hundreds of many years, the peat was covered by sand, clay and minerals, which turned into a type of rock called sedimentary. In the oceans, the algae attracted diatoms, tiny sea creatures the size of a pinhead. As the diatoms died, they fell to the ocean floor and were buried under layers of sand and sedimentary. As the earth changed, shifted, and folded, it squeezed the diatoms capturing their energy. When this movement happened, both oil and natural gas got trapped in pockets between folds of rock in the different layers of the earth. Oil is also found to exist within the rock itself where it is more porous.

Oil has been used as an energy resource for more than 6,000 years. The ancient Babylonians, Sumerians, and Assyrians used crude oil and asphalt or "pitch" collected on the Euphrates River from large seeps (places where the ground leaks oil up from below the surface). Before electricity, oil was used in lamps to provide light. The ancient Egyptians also used liquid oil as a medicine for wounds.

Today, to find oil, companies like Triple Diamond Energy drill through the layers of earth deep below the surface to the deposits. Oilrigs pump
the oil from below and then it is usually sent through pipelines or by ship to destinations for it to be stored in large tanks until it is needed to be used. By heating the thick black crude oil at the refineries, it can be split into various types of products.

Many different products started as oil. These products include almost everything made of plastic, farm fertilizers, gasoline, diesel fuel, oil for aviation and ships, jet fuel, home heating oil, and oil to burn in power plants that make electricity.

The importance of oil in our life is many-fold. There is a limit to how much oil there is. It took millions of years to create and once it is tapped out, it is gone. Fossil fuels are not renewable. So, it is essential we save them by conserving energy.

Thursday, October 25, 2007