Gdańsk
South Baltic Gas Forum
5 - 9 September 2011, Gdańsk, Poland

Petroleum

It consists of naturally occurring hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and may contain miscellaneous organic compounds. The name petroleum covers both naturally occurring unprocessed crude oil and petroleum products that are made up of refined crude oil. A fossil fuel, petroleum is formed when large quantities of dead organisms, mostly zooplankton and algae, are buried underneath sedimentary rock and subjected to both intense heat and pressure.
The term was used in the treatise De Natura Fossilium, published in 1546 by the German mineralogist Georg Bauer, also known as Georgius Agricola. In the 19th century, the term petroleum was often used to refer to mineral oils produced by distillation from mined organic solids such as cannel coal (and later oil shale), and refined oils produced from them; in the United Kingdom, storage (and later transport) of these oils were regulated by a series of Petroleum Acts, from the Petroleum Act 1863 onwards.
More than 4000 years ago, according to Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, asphalt was used in the construction of the walls and towers of Babylon; there were oil pits near Ardericca (near Babylon), and a pitch spring on Zacynthus. Great quantities of it were found on the banks of the river Issus, one of the tributaries of the Euphrates. Ancient Persian tablets indicate the medicinal and lighting uses of petroleum in the upper levels of their society.
The demand for petroleum as a fuel for lighting in North America and around the world quickly grew. Edwin Drake's 1859 well near Titusville, Pennsylvania, is popularly considered the first modern well. Already 1858 Georg Christian Konrad Hunaus had found a significant amount of petroleum while drilling for lignite 1858 in Wietze, Germany. Wietze later provided about 80% of the German consumption in the Wilhelminian Era. The production stopped in 1963, but Wietze has hosted a Petroleum Museum since 1970.
An oil well produces predominantly crude oil, with some natural gas dissolved in it. Because the pressure is lower at the surface than underground, some of the gas will come out of solution and be recovered (or burned) as associated gas or solution gas. A gas well produces predominantly natural gas. However, because the underground temperature and pressure are higher than at the surface, the gas may contain heavier hydrocarbons such as pentane, hexane, and heptane in the gaseous state. At surface conditions these will condense out of the gas to form "natural gas condensate", often shortened to condensate. Condensate resembles gasoline in appearance and is similar in composition to some volatile light crude oils.

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