The oil industry is fascinating, and there are so many interesting things to learn about it. Here are 5 of the most interesting things you might not know about it.
1. Modern Techniques Helped Halt Whaling
Before petroleum distillation became a common practice, many people used whale oil. This helped to fuel the whaling industry that slaughtered thousands of whales to meet the industrial demand for whale oil. But this has been pretty much stopped by now thanks to the modern methods of distilling petroleum. These methods are much more cost-effective than using whale oil to power industries and machinery. Any whaling that now takes place is completely illegal because the practice was banned in the 1980s.
2. The Profit Margins are Small
Most people assume that the oil industry is awash with money, and in some ways that’s true. But it doesn’t tell the full story. John D. Rockefeller, one of the pioneers of oil drilling in the 19th and 20th century, died with a net wealth of more than $1 trillion. But nowadays, the margins are actually pretty slim. The cost of drilling and exploration is rising steadily, but the price of oil isn’t. Many companies are seeing their profits fall as the price of oil plummets, so there’s actually not that money to be made from oil.
3. The Use of Oil Goes Back to Ancient Times
The use of oil and gas isn’t something that is a modern phenomenon. It’s actually being happening for a very long time. Even civilisations such as ancient Babylon used asphalt to for building ships and homes. And lamp lights used early forms of kerosene. So, human beings have been finding and making use of oil for a long time. In the Byzantine empire, petroleum was thought to be used to create a fire-based weapon against their enemies too. It wasn’t until much later that it was used as a fuel though.
4. Safety is Always the Top Priority
We think of oil exploration and drilling as being incredibly unsafe and risky. But the truth is, most oil rigs are some of the safest places to work. That’s because the first priority in the oil industry is always safety. This must always come before profits, or whatever else might be considered important. Without safety, the risks would be huge. But the checks and the technology that’s used to keep the workplaces safe have been perfected over years. They use a metering station, secure pipes, and vast amounts of checks and balances to avoid human error.
5. Fossil Fuels don’t Actually Derive from Dinosaur Fossils
When we think of fossil fuels, we usually imagine oil being produced by the fossils of dinosaurs. But that’s not actually how scientists believe fossil fuels are produced. It’s actually thought that single-cell forms of plankton from millions of years ago died and then decomposed. This process then creates the fossil fuels in the earth that we now drill for. Other scientists think that no living thing created fossil fuels at all. They think that oil has been there since the formation of the Earth.