Oil has been used for lighting purposes for many thousands of years. In areas where oil is found in shallow reservoirs, seeps of crude oil or gas may naturally develop, and some oil could simply be collected from seepage or tar ponds.
Historically, we know the tales of eternal fires where oil and gas seeps ignited and burned. One example is the site where the famous oracle of Delphi was built around 1,000 B.C. Written sources from 500 B.C. describe how the Chinese used natural gas to boil water.
It was not until 1859 that “Colonel” Edwin Drake drilled the first successful oil well, with the sole purpose of finding oil. The Drake Well was located in the middle of quiet farm country in northwestern Pennsylvania, and sparked the international search for an industrial use for petroleum.
The oil was collected in the wooden tank pictured in the foreground. As you will no doubt notice, there are many different-sized barrels in the background. At this time, barrel size had not been standardized, which made statements like “oil is selling at $5 per barrel” very confusing (today a barrel is 159 liters (see units on p. 141). But even in those days, overproduction was something to be avoided. When the “Empire well” was completed in September 1861, it produced 3,000 barrels per day, flooding the market, and the price of oil plummeted to 10 cents a barrel. In some ways, we see the same effect today. When new shale gas fields in the US are constrained by the capacity of the existing oil and gas pipeline network, it results in bottlenecks and low prices at the production site.
Soon, oil had replaced most other fuels for motorized transport. The automobile industry developed at the end of the 19th century, and quickly adopted oil as fuel. Gasoline engines were essential for designing successful aircraft. Ships driven by oil could move up to twice as fast as their coal- powered counterparts, a vital military advantage. Gas was burned off or left in the ground.
Despite attempts at gas transportation as far back as 1821, it was not until after World War II that welding techniques, pipe rolling, and metallurgical advances allowed for the construction of reliable long distance pipelines, creating a natural gas industry boom. At the same time, the petrochemical industry with its new plastic materials quickly increased production. Even now, gas production is gaining market share as liquefied natural gas (LNG) provides an economical way of transporting gas from even the remotest sites.
With the appearance of automobiles and more advanced consumers, it was necessary to improve and standardize the marketable products. Refining was necessary to divide the crude in fractions that could be blended to precise specifications. As value shifted from refining to upstream production, it became even more essential for refineries to increase high-value fuel yield from a variety of crudes. From 10-40% gasoline for crude a century ago, a modern refinery can get up to 70% gasoline from the same quality crude through a variety of advanced reforming and cracking processes.
according to their use in the oil and gas industry production stream:
Includes prospecting, seismic and drilling activities that take place before the development of a field is finally decided.
Typically refers to all facilities for production and stabilization of oil and gas. The reservoir and drilling community often uses upstream for the wellhead, well, completion and reservoir only, and downstream of the wellhead as production or processing. Exploration and upstream/production together is referred to as E&P.
Broadly defined as gas treatment, LNG production and regasification plants, and oil and gas pipeline systems.
Where oil and condensates are processed into marketable products with defined specifications such as gasoline, diesel or feedstock for the petrochemical industry. Refinery offsites such as tank storage and distribution terminals are included in this segment, or may be part of a separate distributions operation.
These products are chemical products where the main feedstock is hydrocarbons. Examples are plastics, fertilizer and a wide range of industrial chemicals.