The Big List of Things You Should Know About OIL

#OIL. How long has oil been used? When were the first oil wells dug and by whom? When did we reach “peak oil” and is there a future for oil in its past?

“Like gold, the human connection with oil goes back centuries. Initially used for heating and light, oil has now become the lifeblood of industrialized nations.”

What follows here is The Big List of Oil DYK…

  1. The history of oil can be divided into four parts:
    1. Prehistory – 1849: Characterized by vast oil reserves, but small-scale use.
    2. 1850-1929: The Era of Oil Excavation, led by the U.S.
    3. 1930-1974: Oil and Environmentalism become global concerns.
    4. 1975-present: Geopolitics and #4IR.
  2. Oil was created from the decomposition of organic materials under intense heat and pressure millions of years ago.
  3. Oil has been used by people for over 5,000 years, once used as a medicine for treating ailments such as gout and frostbite.
  4. Crude oil was first pumped from the ground in Sichuan, China 2,500 years ago.
  5. 1859: Oil was first successfully drilled in the U.S. in Titusville, Pennsylvania.
  6. 1901: The Texas Oil Boom and the modern industrialization of oil production in the U.S. began with a major gusher at Spindletop on January 10th, 1901 near Beaumont, Texas.
  7. 1950’s: The first offshore wells were off the coast of Louisiana.
  8. 2010: The largest oil spill in history, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, spilled 4.2 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
  9. Oil is measured in barrels, which is equal to 42 US gallons or 159 liters.
  10. The US has the 10th largest oil reserve in the world. Venezuela has the largest, with 298.35 billion barrels compared to the US’ 33 billion barrels.
  11. Oil is also referred to as “Texas Tea” and “Black Gold.”
  12. In the past 25 years, there have been more than two dozen oil spills in the US.
  13. Glycerin — a sweet-tasting synthetic ingredient used in toothpaste and other products — is a petrochemical derived from oil.
  14. The word “petroleum” literally translates as “rock oil.” It stems from the Greek word “petra,” meaning rock, and the Latin word “oleum,” meaning oil.
  15. Crude oil is considered the “mother of all commodities” because of its use in the manufacturing of numerous products, including gasoline, synthetic fabrics, plastics and pharmaceuticals.
  16. The states of Texas, Louisiana and California account for over half of all U.S. refining capacity.
  17. One barrel of oil accounts for about:
    1. 19.15 gallons of gasoline
    2. 9.21 gallons of diesel
    3. 3.82 gallons of jet fuel
    4. 1.75 gallons of heating oil and
    5. 7.3 gallons for other petrochemical products like tar, asphalt, and bitumen.
  18. Cushing, Oklahoma, is the designated delivery point for NYMEX crude oil futures contracts.
  19. OPEC countries hold over three-quarters of the world’s proven oil reserves, and that number is rising.
  20. Saudi Arabia’s Ghawar oil field contains about 85 billion barrels of oil (the world’s largest).
  21. Oil is used to make common synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, vinyl and acrylic.
  22. Oil spills account for only about 5% of the oil entering the oceans. The Coast Guard estimates that for U.S. waters, sewage treatment plants discharge twice as much oil each year as tanker spills.
  23. Most of the oil found in the ocean has oozed naturally from the ocean floor.
  24. John D. Rockefeller, who revolutionized and dominated the oil industry in the late 19th and early 20th century, had a net worth measuring $1.4 trillion (today’s dollars) at the time of his death.
  25. The largest oil field in the U.S. is Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, which covers 213,453 acres and originally contained 25 billion barrels of oil.
  26. Canada has the third largest amount of reserves of any country, 97% of which are in oil sands.
  27. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline has shipped over 16 billion barrels of oil since it came online in 1977.
  28. Oil was formed more than 300 million years ago.
  29. If all the corn and soybean production in the U.S was diverted to corn ethanol and soy biodiesel, it would meet only 12% of gasoline demand and 6% of diesel demand.
  30. One gallon (4 liters) of gasoline has about 31 million calories.
  31. In the 19th Century, Gasoline used to be so worthless that petroleum refineries would simply throw it away.
  32. Thomas Midgley came up with the idea of putting lead in petrol, and invented CFC’s. He is said to have caused more damage to the environment than any other single organism ever. He was later killed by one of his own inventions.
  33. Indigenous Australian Aborigines inhale petroleum, and in 2005, the Government of Australia and BP began the usage of opal fuel in remote areas prone to petrol sniffing.
  34. It took 23.5 tonnes of ancient, buried plants to produce 1 litre of petrol.
  35. The Diesel engine is named after the inventor, not the fuel and the original fuel it was developed to run on was peanut oil in 1895.
  36. In 2009, a blackout-drunk trader managed to buy $.5 billion in oil futures, causing the price of oil to spike.
  37. The hull of the sunken USS Arizona has been leaking oil since the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.
  38. In 2011, the average salary for an oil rig worker was almost $100k.
  39. WW1 planes used Castor Oil as engine lubricant and the Pilots suffered from persistent diarrhea due to unburnt castor oil coming out of the exhaust.
  40. In 2009, Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon hit a depth of 10,683 meters, making it the deepest well in the world. The record was short-lived, as the Deepwater Horizon blew up just over six months later.
  41. Asphalt was used in ancient Babylon as mortar for buildings and for waterproofing ships.
  42. Tar was first used in 8th century Baghdad to pave roads.
  43. During the reign of the Byzantine Empire, greek fire was a formidable weapon; pouring water on it only intensified its flame.
  44. In 1973, spurred by the Yom Kippur (or Ramadan) War, the Arab members of the OPEC announced that they would cut oil production and not ship oil to United States, Europe, and Japan for supporting Israel.
  45. In 1979, the second oil crisis happened when Ayatollah Khomeini took control of Iran after the Iranian Revolution, forcing the Shah of Iran to flee the country. For the second time in six years, the price of crude oil spiked and gas lines formed at the pump.
  46. The 1970s oil crises were followed by the 1980s oil glut.
  47. Aramco is easily the most profitable company on the planet.
  48. “Peak oil” is a concept from geoscientist M. King Hubbert, 1956.
  49. Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) produce about 43% of the world’s crude oil, and possess almost 81% of the world’s total proven crude oil reserves, according to OPEC and U.S. Energy Information Administration data.
  50. The 13 countries/members of OPEC:
    1. Algeria
    2. Angola
    3. Ecuador
    4. Gabon
    5. Iran
    6. Iraq
    7. Kuwait
    8. Libya
    9. Nigeria
    10. Qatar
    11. Saudi Arabia
    12. United Arab Emirates
    13. Venezuela.
  51. 1971: US oil production peaked.
  52. 1977: Alaska oil pipeline completed.
  53. 1973: Iran nationalizes oil assets.
  54. In ancient times, bitumen was primarily a Mesopotamian commodity used by the Sumerians and Babylonians.
  55. Samuel Downer, Jr. patented “Kerosene” as a trade name in 1859 and licensed its usage.
  56. 1948: Ghawar Field discovered in Saudi Arabia – the largest conventional oil field in the world (about 80 billion barrels).
  57. Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian, claimed that  asphalt was used in the construction of the towers of Babylon, around 2,000 BCE.
  58. As of 2015, the top 10 countries with the world’s largest reserves of crude oil were (in order of largest to smallest reserves):
    1. Venezuela
    2. Saudi Arabia
    3. Canada
    4. Iran
    5. Iraq
    6. Kuwait
    7. United Arab Emirates
    8. Russia
    9. Libya
    10. Nigeria
  59. In 1975, President Gerald Ford established the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
  60. The Jesuit Relations of 1657 states: “As one approaches nearer to the country of the Cats, one finds heavy and thick water, which ignites like brandy, and boils up in bubbles of flame when fire is applied to it. It is, moreover, so oily, that all our Savages use it to anoint and grease their heads and their bodies.”
  61. The U.S. natural gas industry started in 1821 at Fredonia, Chautauqua County, New York, when William Hart dug a well to a depth of 27 feet (8.2 m) into gas-bearing shale, then drilled a borehole 43 feet (13 m) further, and piped the natural gas to a nearby inn where it was burned for illumination.
  62. On August 28, 1859, George Bissell and Edwin L. Drake made the first successful use of a drilling rig on a well drilled especially to produce oil, at a site on Oil Creek near Titusville, Pennsylvania.
  63. The Standard Oil Company was slow to appreciate the economic potential of the Spindletop oil field, and the Gulf Coast generally, which gave greater opportunity to others; Spindletop became the birthplace of oil giants Texaco and Gulf Oil.
  64. Samuel Kier established America’s first oil refinery in Pittsburgh on Seventh avenue near Grant Street, in 1853.
  65. The first commercial oil well in Canada became operational in 1858 at Oil Springs, Ontario (then Canada West).
  66. The BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2007 listed the reserve/production ratio for proven resources worldwide: The study placed the ratio of proven reserves to production in the Middle East at 79.5 years, Latin America at 41.2 years, and North America at 12 years.
  67. “Seven Sisters” was a common term for the seven multinational oil companies of the “Consortium for Iran” cartel, which dominated the global petroleum industry from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s. Alluding to the seven mythological Pleiades sisters fathered by the titan Atlas, the business usage was popularized in the 1950s by businessman Enrico Mattei, then-head of the Italian state oil company Eni.
  68. The “Seven Sisters” industry group consisted of:
    1. Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP)
    2. Gulf Oil (later part of Chevron)
    3. Royal Dutch Shell
    4. Standard Oil Company of California (SoCal, now Chevron)
    5. Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (Esso, later Exxon)
    6. Standard Oil Company of New York (Socony, later Mobil, now part of ExxonMobil)
    7. Texaco (later merged into Chevron).
  69. 1877: Rockerfeller controlled 90% of American refining.
  70. By 1870 kerosene cost 26 cents a gallon.
  71. 1723: Peter the Great (1672-1725) issues special decrees about the order of oil extraction; in a letter to major-general Michael Matyushkin, who governed Baku, he demanded sending “one thousand poods of white oil or as much as possible, and to look for increase in production”. Persian campaign (1722-1723) of Peter I resulted in Baku and Derbent (on the East coast of Caspian) being annexed to Russia.
  72. Prior to the 1973 oil crisis, the Seven Sisters controlled around 85% of the world’s petroleum reserves. Since then, industry dominance has shifted to the OPEC cartel and state-owned oil and gas companies in emerging-market economies, such as:
    1. Saudi Aramco
    2. Gazprom (Russia)
    3. China National Petroleum Corporation
    4. National Iranian Oil Company
    5. PDVSA (Venezuela)
    6. Petrobras (Brazil)
    7. Petronas (Malaysia)
  73. In 1951, Iran nationalized its oil industry then controlled by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP), and Iranian oil was subjected to an international embargo.
  74. 450BCE: Herodotus described oil pits near Babylon.
  75. c100AD – Plutarch described oil bubbling from the ground near Kirkuk in present day Iraq.
  76. 1907: Shell (British) and Royal Dutch merged to form Royal Dutch Shell.
  77. “End of Oil” predicted in 1905: “The available supply of gasoline, as is well known, is quite limited, and it behooves the farseeing men of the motor car industry to look for likely substitutes,” declares a December 13, 1905, article in The Horseless Age.
  78. 1 modern barrel of oil contains the energy equivalent to around 23,200 hours of human work output.
  79. The first commercial application of hydraulic fracturing took place in 1949 near Duncan, Oklahoma.
  80. The supermajors are considered to be:
    1. BP plc
    2. Chevron Corporation
    3. ExxonMobil Corporation
    4. Royal Dutch Shell plc
    5. Total SA
    6. Eni SpA
    7. Phillips 66 Company also sometimes described as forming part of the group
  81. By 1878 Standard Oil will be responsible for roughly 90% of the refining capacity in the U.S.
  82. Emissions from oil-sand crude are 12% higher than from conventional oil.
  83. Edwin Laurentine Drake was born on March 29, 1819.  Drake is known as the ‘father of the petroleum industry’ because the technology he devised revolutionized how crude oil was produced and launched the large-scale petroleum industry.
  84. In ancient Egypt, the use of bitumen was important in preparing Egyptian mummies.
  85. The exploitation of bituminous deposits and seeps dates back to Paleolithic times.
  86. 25 largest oil and gas companies by USD 2015 revenue (in order of highest to lowest revenue):
    1. Saudi Aramco
    2. Sinopec
    3. China National Petroleum Corporation
    4. PetroChina
    5. Exxon Mobil
    6. Royal Dutch Shell
    7. Kuwait Petroleum Corporation
    8. BP
    9. Total SA
    10. Lukoil
    11. Eni
    12. Valero Energy
    13. Petrobras
    14. Chevron Corporation
    15. PDVSA
    16. Pemex
    17. National Iranian Oil
    18. Gazprom
    19. Petronas
    20. Phillips 66 Company
    21. China National Offshore Oil
    22. Marathon Petroleum
    23. PTT
    24. Rosneft
    25. JX Holdings
  87. 6th Century BCE: The army of Kir II, first shah of Achaemenid Empire ( present day Iran), used Absheron oil in weapons of fire to invade castles and cities.
  88. For thousands of years, when oil was more of a curiosity than a necessity for most of humanity, it was found primarily at natural seeps, where liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons leak from the ground much like water flows from natural springs.
  89. 1647: Turkish traveller Evliya Chelebi examines and thoroughly describes Baku oil fields while in Baku. According to his data, Baku oil brought 7000 tumans of annual income to Shah’s treasury and was exported to Persia, Central Asia, Turkey and India.
  90. 1938: Oil discovered in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
  91. 1975: Venezuelan oil industry nationalized.
  92. By 1895 petroleum oil was just seven cents a gallon.
  93. Railroad oil tank cars become an oilfield innovation on April 10, 1866, when James and Amos Densmore of Meadville, Pennsylvania, were granted a patent for their “Improved Car for Transporting Petroleum.”
  94. OPEC was established in 1960 with five founding members:
    1. Iran
    2. Iraq
    3. Kuwait
    4. Saudi Arabia
    5. Venezuela
  95. In 1933, Standard Oil secured the first contract to drill for oil in Saudi Arabia.
  96. In 1911, the Supreme Court declared that the Standard Trust had operated to monopolize and restrain trade, and it ordered the trust dissolved into thirty-four companies.
  97. When Marco Polo in 1264 visited the Persian city of Baku, on the shores of the Caspian Sea in modern Azerbaijan, he saw oil being collected from seeps. He wrote that “on the confines toward Geirgine there is a fountain from which oil springs in great abundance, inasmuch as a hundred shiploads might be taken from it at one time.”
  98. 325BCE: Alexander the Great used flaming torches of petroleum products to scare his enemies.
  99. 9th Century AD – Arabian traveler Baladzori (Al-Belazuri Ahmed) describes in “The Conquest of the countries” that political and economic life on Absheron had been long connected with oil.
  100. 1781: Count Marko Voynovich (1750-1807) finds signs of oil and gas on the bottom of the Caspian Sea near the island Zhiloy (Chilov), near the Absheron peninsula.
  101. 1816: Start of the U.S. manufactured gas industry – the Gas Light Company of Baltimore.
  102. 1872: Rockerfeller took over 22 of his competitors (The Cleveland Massacre) to increase Standard Oil share of market to 25%.
  103. 1924: Teapot Dome scandal – political manipulation in providing ‘friends’ with the right to develop the US Naval Oil Reserves resulted in the resignation of the Secretary of the Interior (Albert Fall) and Secretary of the Navy (Edwin Denby).
  104. 1938: Mexico nationalizes foreign oil companies, all assets placed under the control of Pemex
  105. 1939-1945: World War II – control of oil supply from Baku and Middle East played a huge role in the events of the war and the ultimate victory of the allies. Cutting off the oil supply considerably weakened Japan in the latter part of the war.
  106. 1967: Great Canadian Oil Sands Ltd (later Suncor) began production of tar sands north of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada – first commercial production of the largest oil resource in the world.
  107. Ancient Greeks & Romans, including Pliny the Elder, observed “eternal fires” around the Absheron peninsular (in modern Azerbajian), along with others in Persia and Turkmenia. These eternal fires, created by natural seepage & ignition of gas from the ground, were thought to have inspired Zoroastrainism, one of the world’s oldest religions.
  108. By 1865, after the American Civil War, petroleum cost 59 cents per gallon.
  109. Natural bitumen deposits are reported in many countries, but in particular are found in extremely large quantities in Canada.
  110. Proven reserves of bitumen contain approximately 100 billion barrels of oil, of which 70.8%, is in Alberta, Canada.
  111. The crude bitumen contained in the Canadian oil sands is described by the National Energy Board of Canada as “a highly viscous mixture of hydrocarbons heavier than pentanes which, in its natural state, is not usually recoverable at a commercial rate through a well because it is too thick to flow.”
  112. Vast deposits of bitumen – over 350 billion cubic metres (2.2 trillion barrels) of oil in place – exist in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. If only 30% of this oil could be extracted, it could supply the entire needs of North America for over 100 years.
  113. Top 25 Oil fields: greater than 1 billion barrels (160 million cubic metres)
    1. Ghawar Field – Saudi Arabia
    2. Burgan Field – Kuwait
    3. Gachsaran Field – Iran
    4. Ahwaz Field – Iran
    5. Sugar Loaf Field – Brazil
    6. Cantarell Field – Mexico
    7. Ku-Maloob-Zaap – Mexico
    8. Bolivar Coastal Field – Venezuela
    9. Aghajari Field – Iran
    10. Lula Field – Brazil
    11. Safaniya Oil Field – Kuwait/Saudi Arabia
    12. Esfandiar Field – Iran
    13. Rumaila Field – Iraq
    14. Tengiz Field – Kazakhstan
    15. Kirkuk Field – Iraq
    16. Shaybah Field – Saudi Arabia
    17. Agha Jari Field – Iran
    18. Majnoon Field – Iraq
    19. Samotlor Field – Russia
    20. Shaikan Sheikh Adi Field – Iraq
    21. Romashkino Field – Russia
    22. Prudhoe Bay – United States
    23. Sarir Field – Libya
    24. Priobskoye Field – Russia
    25. Lyantorskoye Field – Russia
  114. 1539: Intended as a gout treatment for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, oil is exported from Venezuela.
  115. 1556: The word petroleum, Latin for “rock oil,” is first cited in a work by German mineralogist Georg Bauer.
  116. During the Revolutionary War, Native Americans taught George Washington’s troops how to treat frostbite using oil.
  117. It was not until the 19th century that scientific — and entrepreneurial — innovation began to change the world of oil. Within 11 of years of the first oil well in the United States, John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil. The following years saw an oil boom in the American West, the mass-production of the automobile, and other technological developments that created an explosion of oil excavation, distribution, and use.
  118. 1877: The world’s first oil tanker, the steam-powered Zoroaster, is built by the Nobel brothers to transport kerosene in the Caspian.
  119. During World War I, strategists for all the major powers increasingly perceived oil as a key military asset due to the adoption of oil-powered naval ships, new horseless army vehicles such as trucks and tanks, and even military airplanes. Use of oil during the war increases so rapidly that a severe shortage developed in 1917-18.
  120. The middle third of the 20th century saw tremendous changes in the oil industry. Beginning with Standard Oil’s activities in Saudi Arabia, oil prospecting began a global expansion; in fact, the internationalization of oil excavation and distribution played an important role in World War II, as better access aided the Allied effort. Meanwhile, scientific discoveries and inventions fueled a market for petroleum products in plastics, synthetics, and other industries. But along with the benefits of technology came, eventually, the awareness of environmental damage and risk in connection with the oil industry.
  121. 1935: Du Pont scientist Wallace Carothers invents Nylon, the first purely synthetic fiber, using petroleum-based hydrocarbons.
  122. The Allied forces’ access to oil was considered a crucial factor in their victory over the Axis powers in World War II. Recognizing the limited supply of oil resources and its importance to the future of the nation, oil policy becomes a high priority for the U.S. at the end of the war. Some experts point to a 1945 meeting between President Roosevelt and Saudi Arabia’s King Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud as a formative point in the future of U.S.-Saudi relations.
  123. 1951: Robert Banks and fellow research chemist Paul Hogan discover two new types of plastic, called crystalline polypropylene and high-density polyethylene (HDPE), while working for Phillips Petroleum. The plastics, first marketed under the brand name Marlex, are responsible for many of the common plastic products found today such as milk jugs, carpeting, and housewares. One of the first uses for Marlex was to make Wham-O hula hoops.
  124. 1989: The oil tanker Exxon Valdez is pierced when it hits a reef off Prince William Sound in southern Alaska. The supertanker dumps 39,000 tons of oil into the sound. Though not the largest oceanic spill in history, the incident is an ecological disaster for the coastal community.
  125. Oil exploration peaked in the 1960s.
  126. In 2006, just 10 oilfields accounted for 29.9% of the world’s estimated proven reserves and 20.4% of the world’s production.
  127. Of the top 10 modern producing fields, the youngest  was discovered in 1976 (Cantarell, Mexico – now in decline).
  128. The youngest of the top 20 producing fields was discovered in 1985 (Marlim, Brazil – now in decline).
  129. The average age of the 19 largest oil fields is almost 70 years.
  130. The last four non-OPEC oilfields found with a productive capacity that exceeded one million barrels a day production were:
    1. China’s Daquing field, discovered in 1959
    2. Western Siberia’s Samotlor, discovered in 1965
    3. Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay, discovered in 1968
    4. Mexico’s Cantarell field, discovered in 1976
  131. Only three oilfields discovered in the 1980s still produce over 200,000 barrels per day (as at 2008):
    1. Brazil’s Marlim field (530,000 barrels per day)
    2. Columbia’s Cusiana/Cupiagua field (300,000 barrels per day)
    3. Norway’s Draugen field (215,000 barrels per day)
  132. The 2008 “Great Recession” may have been the first “peak-oil” recession.
  133. A dollar in your pocket is essentially a claim on the energy contained in a barrel of oil.
  134. In 2007 the IEA predicted that 64 million barrels per day (mbpd) of new oil capacity will be required to come onstream between by 2030 in order to meet an anticipated demand (if demand grows at 1.6% per year). Assuming an average conventional oil discovery size creates an additional supply of 20,000 bopd (the current world conventional field average) this represents 3200 conventional fields, or 1391 fields every 10 years. In the 1990s just over 400 conventional fields were discovered, less than 1/3rd of the required discovery rate. 2.5% of these fields (10) produced (at 2001) over 100,000 barrels per day.

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