Energy Glossary


Petroleum is a fossil fuel which is based on dead biomass, which was converted into petroleum during millions of years. In contrast to coal, biomass composition and physical-chemical process conditions are different from that wich produced coal or natural gas.

Use and energy characteristics of petroleum

Petroleum is a raw material for heavy oils fuels, diesel and gasoline fuel and the base of a variety of organic compounds used by the chemical and pharmaceutical industry.

Petroleum, also called crude oil is a natural product and therefore it has different chemical compositions and physical properties depending on its origin. The energy density of petroleum (crude oil) has a value of about 10kWh / l (= Kilowatt hours per litre).

Petroleum reserves

A scheme of typical oil deposits found in natural gas - crude oil and natural gas are often found in common deposits. The natural gas - in addition to carbon dioxide, for example - provides an increased internal pressure of the deposit, which can carry the oil to the surface. Oil is extracted from a funding body for a long time, the pressure decreases and thus the flow rate. By pressing the pressure of carbon dioxide can be increased again and with it the capacity to be increased.

The flow rate initially increases with increasing use of an oil well, but takes described by the pressure drop after a long production life again. The output thus has a maximum value, in English also known as peak. The total of all sources of oil can expect a peak of the entire oil production. This phenomenon is called Peak Oil.

In addition to the conventional petroleum, there are also non-conventional resources in the form of oil sands and oil shales.

Risks and side effects of petroleum production and usage

There are three main groups, the

  1. Release of oil in its promotion, its transport or its processed
  2. Shortage of oil and therefore low static range of reserves - about 30 years
  3. Release of carbon dioxide, which contributes to the greenhouse effect.

Although oil is a natural product, which is also mined from naturally occurring organisms. However, these decomposition processes slow and crude oil lingers long in the area of oil spillage.

According to current (2010) Crude oil is still 30 years to today s technical and economic conditions are eligible. This time horizon is limited by (1) new mining methods, (2) development of new deposits slid forward (above) and (3) increased efforts to save oil is likely to continue. Especially the development of resources - such as by deep holes or in the form of non-conventional oil resources - will also lead to greater environmental burdens. The oil output in the Gulf of Mexico (2010, Deepwater Horizon, BP) shows that the production methods are promoted, but the civil protection in case of failure of protective devices co-developed was not equally. Another often neglected aspect of a shortage of oil, the supply of this resource for the chemical industry to the plastics industry.

A general problem is the release of carbon dioxide from the burning of petroleum products, used mainly for transportation and personal mobility (petrol, diesel and jet fuel for ground vehicles for aircraft).

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