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Petroleum: Uses and Composition Introduction Petroleum is a natural resource, which is usually yellow to black in color and is found in the Earth’s crust. It consists of various organic compounds. Petroleum is prepared over years after large quantities of dead organisms are decomposed under sedimentary rocks with intense heat and pressure. Petroleum refers to both, the crude oil recovered from the ground and the petroleum products that are made out of the refined petroleum. After it is drilled from the ground, it is then separated from other minerals such as kerosene and other chemical reagents. Petrol is then used to manufacture a variety of products. The use of petroleum and other fuels obtained from the ground do have a negative impact on the earth’s environment and biosphere because these release a number of pollutants and greenhouse gases. The largest amount of oil produced in the world is by Saudi Arabia, followed by Russia and United States.

Uses Petroleum, due to its composition of different hydrocarbons, can be used for various purposes. It can be treated and distilled to extract any component from it. The most common factors retrieved after distillation of petroleum are fuels. These include, Liquified Petroleum Gas, Kerosene, Petrol, Butane, Jet Fuel, Fuel Oil and Diesel Fuel. Other derivatives of petrol include waxes, lubricants, Sulphuric acid, paraffin wax, aromatic petrochemicals and many others. Moreover, nearly all pesticides and many fertilizers are made out of petrol. This is the primary reason of the boost of the agriculture industry since 1940s.

Composition: Petroleum includes hydrocarbons in all formations i.e. solid, liquid and gaseous. On surface pressure and temperature, methane, ethane, propane and butane remain gasses, while pentane and other heavy hydrocarbons occur as liquids and solids. When retrieved from an oil well, the crude oil will consist of some natural gas as well. The crude oil may consist of fifty to ninety percent of light oils, while the remainder consists of heavy oils. The hydrocarbons in the solution mostly include gaseous forms of alkanes and cycloalkanes. It also consists of Nitrogen Oxygen and Sulfur and some metals such as nickel and copper.


A gas well whereas, mostly comprises of heavy and light hydrocarbons, both in gaseous forms. When in condensed form, these are called condensate. Condensate resembles petrol in appearance and has similar physical properties to crude oil. Petroleum retrieved from different places may vary in composition and therefore will have different physical and chemical properties. It may vary greatly in color and viscosity, etc.




Petroleum, due to its composition of different hydrocarbons, can be used for various purposes. It can be treated and distilled to extract an...