petroleum power

consequences of oil use

The United States does produce oil, but the amount produced is only about one-quarter as much as the nation uses. The United States has only about 1.5% of the worlds proven oil reserves, so most of the oil used by Americans must be imported from other nations. The main oil-producing regions in the United States are the Gulf of Mexico, Texas, Alaska, and California (Figure As in every type of mining, mining for oil has environmental consequences. Oil rigs are unsightly (Figure 1.4), and spills are too common (Figure 1.5). Click image to the left or use the URL below. URL: Offshore well locations in the Gulf of Mex- ico. Note that some wells are located in very deep water. Drill rigs at the San Ardo Oil Field in Monterey, California.



oil use

Most of the compounds that come out of the refining process are fuels, such as gasoline, diesel, and heating oil. Because these fuels are rich sources of energy and can be easily transported, oil provides about 90% of the energy used for transportation around the world. The rest of the compounds from crude oil are used for waxes, plastics, fertilizers, and other products. Gasoline is in a convenient form for use in cars and other transportation vehicles. In a car engine, the burned gasoline mostly turns into carbon dioxide and water vapor. The fuel releases most of its energy as heat, which causes the gases to expand. This creates enough force to move the pistons inside the engine and to power the car. Refineries like this one separate crude oil into many useful fuels and other chemi- cals. Click image to the left or use the URL below. URL:


oil production

In order to be collected, the oil must be located between a porous rock layer and an impermeable layer (Figure 1.1). Trapped above the porous rock layer and beneath the impermeable layer, the oil will remain between these layers until it is extracted from the rock. Oil (red) is found in the porous rock layer (yellow) and trapped by the impermeable layer (brown). The folded structure has allowed the oil to pool so a well can be drilled into the reservoir. To separate the different types of hydrocarbons in crude oil for different uses, the crude oil must be refined in refineries like the one shown in Figure 1.2. Refining is possible because each hydrocarbon in crude oil boils at a different temperature. When the oil is boiled in the refinery, separate equipment collects the different compounds.


oil formation

Oil from the ground is called crude oil, which is a mixture of many different hydrocarbons. Crude oil is a thick dark brown or black liquid hydrocarbon. Oil also forms from buried dead organisms, but these are tiny organisms that live on the sea surface and then sink to the seafloor when they die. The dead organisms are kept away from oxygen by layers of other dead creatures and sediments. As the layers pile up, heat and pressure increase. Over millions of years, the dead organisms turn into liquid oil.


Oil is a liquid fossil fuel that is extremely useful because it can be transported easily and can be used in cars and other vehicles. Oil is currently the single largest source of energy in the world.

instructional diagrams

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in a car engine, gasoline burns to become gases, which expand when heated and move pistons to power the car.

-->  a) true

b) false

crude oil is a mixture of many different

a) hydroxygens

-->  b) hydrocarbons

c) carbon dioxides

d) monoxides

for people to be able to drill for oil, it must

a) be located within a groundwater aquifer.

b) be trapped in a strike-slip fault zone.

-->  c) have collected beneath an impermeable rock layer

d) have reached the surface at a point so people know its there.

refineries help to separate these from crude oil

a) petroleum, carbon dioxide and water vapor.

-->  b) gasoline, diesel and heating oil.

c) hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide and water vapor.

d) gasoline and carbon dioxide

which of these requires oil?

a) fertilizer

b) plastic

c) wax

-->  d) all of the above

crude oil

a) is made entirely of ancient plants that lived in swamps.

b) is what we put in our gas tanks.

c) is a very liquid and volatile hydrocarbon.

-->  d) must be refined to be useful.

which of these locations is not a main-oil producing region for the united states?

-->  a) florida

b) the gulf of mexico

c) texas

d) alaska

the united states produces about one-half as much oil as it uses.

a) true

-->  b) false

when gasoline burns, it turns into this.

a) heat

b) water vapor

c) carbon dioxide

-->  d) all of the above

the consequences of oil use include

a) having to deal with unfriendly nations.

b) oil spills.

c) pollution.

-->  d) all of the above

diagram questions

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