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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

Last updated on: March 29, 2012 16:49 IST

Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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Crude oil, or petroleum, is recovered mostly through oil drilling. This comes after the studies of geology, sedimentary basin analysis, reservoir characterisation, and it is then refined and separated, most easily by boiling point, into a large number of consumer products, from petrol and kerosene to asphalt and chemical reagents used to make plastics and pharmaceuticals.

Let's have a look at how the black gold is extracted and refined.

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Image: Car lights are seen streaking past an oil rig in Culver City, California.
Photographs: David McNew/Getty Images
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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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Petroleum is used in manufacturing a wide variety of materials, and it is estimated that the world consumes about 88 million barrels each day.

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Image: A gas pump is seen hanging from the ceiling at a petrol station in Seoul.
Photographs: Jo Yong-Hak/Reuters
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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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The use of fossil fuels such as petroleum can have a negative impact on Earth's biosphere, releasing pollutants and greenhouse gases into the air and damaging ecosystems through events such as oil spills.

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Image: A worker is seen on top of a fuel storage tank at an oil refinery in Melbourne.
Photographs: Mick Tsikas/Reuters
Tags: , Earth

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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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Concern over the depletion of the earth's finite reserves of oil, and the effect this would have on a society dependant on it, is a field known as peak oil.

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Image: A muddy run-off splashes beside an oil rig belonging to Zion Oil and Gas in Karkur, northern Israel.
Photographs: Nir Elias/Reuters
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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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The petroleum industry includes the global processes of exploration, extraction, refining, transporting (often by oil tankers and pipelines), and marketing petroleum products.

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Image: A tap is seen at a line production station on a Druzhba pipeline in Brody, some 460km west of Kiev, Ukraine.
Photographs: Gleb Garanich/Reuters
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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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The largest volume products of the industry are fuel oil and gasoline (petrol). Petroleum is also the raw material for many chemical products, including pharmaceuticals, solvents, fertilisers, pesticides, and plastics.

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Image: Labourers work at a PetroChina refinery in Suining, southwest China's Sichuan province.
Photographs: Stringer/Reuters
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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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The industry is usually divided into three major components: upstream, midstream and downstream. Midstream operations are usually included in the downstream category.

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Image: Oil is seen on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.
Photographs: US Navy/Handout/Reuters
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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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Petroleum is vital to many industries, and is of importance to the maintenance of industrial civilisation itself, and thus is a critical concern for many nations.

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Image: A worker wipes the price display board at a petrol station in Manila.
Photographs: Romeo Ranoco/Reuters
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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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Oil accounts for a large percentage of the world's energy consumption, ranging from as low of 32 per cent for Europe and Asia, up to a high of 53 per cent for the Middle East.

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Image: A scientist takes a sample of oil while surveying the conditions of Bartaria Bay near Venice, Louisiana, US.
Photographs: Sean Gardner/Reuters
Tags: , Middle East , Europe , Asia

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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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Other geographic regions' consumption patterns are as follows: South and Central America (44 per cent), Africa (41 per cent), and North America (40 per cent).

The world consumes 30 billion barrels of oil per year, with developed nations being the largest consumers.

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Image: A sign is seen outside a petrol station in Brighton, southern England.
Photographs: Toby Melville/Reuters

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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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The United States consumed 25 per cent of the oil produced in 2007. The production, distribution, refining, and retailing of petroleum taken as a whole represents the world's largest industry in terms of dollar value.

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Image: A gas pump is hung at a gas station in Seoul.
Photographs: Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters

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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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Governments such as the United States government provide a heavy public subsidy to petroleum companies, with major tax breaks at virtually every stage of oil exploration and extraction, including for the costs of oil field leases and drilling equipment.

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Image: Oil worker analyzes a sample of recent extracted crude at the Main Production Platform Urdaneta operated by Shell in the middle of Lake Maracaibo, 65Km from Maracaibo City, in Venezuela.
Photographs: Jorge Silva/Reuters

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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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Imperial Russia produced 3,500 tonnes of oil in 1825 and doubled its output by mid-century. After oil drilling began in what is now Azerbaijan in 1848, two large pipelines were built in the Russian Empire: the 833km long pipeline to transport oil from the Caspian to the Black Sea port of Batumi (Baku-Batumi pipeline), completed in 1906, and the 162km long pipeline to carry oil from Chechnya to the Caspian.

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Image: A worker is seen on a boat as it approaches the Santos-owned Casino rig, located 250km south-west of Melbourne, in Bass Strait, Australia.
Photographs: Santos/Handout/Reuters

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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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At the turn of the 20th century, Imperial Russia's output of oil, almost entirely from the Apsheron Peninsula, accounted for half of the world's production and dominated international markets.

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Image: A man holds a plastic bag with oil from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill south of Freemason Island, Louisiana.
Photographs: Carlos Barria/Reuters

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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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Nearly 200 small refineries operated in the suburbs of Baku by 1884. As a side effect of these early developments, the Apsheron Peninsula emerged as the world's "oldest legacy of oil pollution and environmental negligence".

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Image: An employee walks up a flight of stairs at one of the huge tanks storing strategic oil reserves at Hungarian oil and gas group MOL's main Duna (Danube) refinery in Szazhalombatta, Hungary.
Photographs: Laszlo Balogh/Reuters

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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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In 1878, Ludvig Nobel and his Branobel company "revolutionised oil transport" by commissioning the first oil tanker and launching it on the Caspian Sea.

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Image: British Petroleum oil refinery as seen in Whiting, Indiana.
Photographs: John Gress/Reuters

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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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The first modern oil refineries were built by Ignacy Lukasiewicz near Jaslo (then in the dependent Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria in Central European Galicia), Poland from 1854-56.

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Image: Oilfield pumping units of PetroChina Daqing Oilfield Company Limited at Daqing, northeast China's Heilongjiang province.
Photographs: China Daily/Reuters

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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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These were initially small as demand for refined fuel was limited. The refined products were used in artificial asphalt, machine oil and lubricants, in addition to Lukasiewicz's kerosene lamp.

As kerosene lamps gained popularity, the refining industry grew in the area.

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Image: Containers filled with oil cleaned up from the oil spill site are seen at Beilianggang port in Dalian, Liaoning province, China.
Photographs: Sheng Li/Reuters
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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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In Canada, oil extraction began in 1858 in Oil Springs, Ontario. The first oil drilling in the United States began in 1859, when oil was successfully drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania.

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Image: An employee of Indonesian oil company Pertamina walks on the top of drums at the oil storage depot in Jakarta.
Photographs: Beawiharta Beawiharta/Reuters

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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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In the first quarter of the 20th century, the United States overtook Russia as the world's largest oil producer.

By the 1920s, oil fields had been established in many countries including Canada, Poland, Sweden, the Ukraine, the United States, Peru and Venezuela.

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Image: Garret Graves with the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority shows his hand after collecting oil samples in Pass A Loutre near Venice, Louisiana, US.
Photographs: Sean Gardner/Reuters

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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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The first successful oil tanker, the Zoroaster, was built in 1878 in Sweden, designed by Ludvig Nobel. It operated from Baku to Astrakhan. A number of new tanker designs were developed in the 1880s.

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Image: A driver waits to fill his vehicle with diesel fuel at a petrol station in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province.
Photographs: Stringer/Reuters

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In the early 1930s the Texas Company developed the first mobile steel barges for drilling in the brackish coastal areas of the Persian Gulf.

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Image: A worker turns a valve to release drilled oil, near the Dead Sea, Israel.
Photographs: Eliana Aponte/Reuters

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In 1937 Pure Oil Company (now part of Chevron Corporation) and its partner Superior Oil Company (now part of ExxonMobil Corporation) used a fixed platform to develop a field in 14 feet of water, one mile offshore of Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.

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Image: A mother collects diesel fuel from a leakage in Indonesia's state oil and gas firm oil pipeline in north Jakarta.
Photographs: Beawiharta Beawiharta/Reuters

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After World War II ended, the countries of the Middle East took the lead in oil production from the United States.

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Image: Oil spill on water is seen near an oil production facility at Maracaibo lake near the coastal town of Barranquitas, Venezuela.
Photographs: Isaac Urrutia/Reuters

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Amazing images show how oil is extracted

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Important developments since World War II include deep-water drilling, the introduction of the Drillship, and the growth of a global shipping network for petroleum relying upon oil tankers and pipelines.

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Image: India's Reliance Industries KG-D6's floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel is seen off the Bay of Bengal.
Photographs: Handout/Reuters
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In the 1960s and 1970s, multi-governmental organisations of oil-producing nations Opec and Oapec played a major role in setting petroleum prices and policy.

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Image: Workers of Iraq's state-run South Oil Company walk at a crude processing facility at Nahr Bin Umar field, north of Basra, Iraq.
Photographs: Atef Hassan/Reuters
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Oil Spills and their cleanup have become an issue of increasing political, environmental, and economic importance.

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Image: An aerial view shows oil that seeped from a well operated by Chevron at Frade, on the waters in Campos Basin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Photographs: Rogerio Santana/Handout/Reuters
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The petroleum industry generally classifies crude oil by the geographic location it is produced in (e.g. West Texas Intermediate, Brent, or Oman), its API gravity (an oil industry measure of density), and its sulfur content.

Crude oil may be considered light if it has low density or heavy if it has high density; and it may be referred to as sweet if it contains relatively little sulfur or sour if it contains substantial amounts of sulfur.

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Image: Labourers work at a well head in a PetroChina oil field in Tongnan, southwest China's Sichuan province.
Photographs: Stringer/Reuters
Tags: , API , West Texas , Oman

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The geographic location is important because it affects transportation costs to the refinery.

Light crude oil is more desirable than heavy oil since it produces a higher yield of petrol, while sweet oil commands a higher price than sour oil because it has fewer environmental problems and requires less refining to meet sulfur standards imposed on fuels in consuming countries.

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Image: Workers check equipment at the Al-Shuaeba oil refinery, about 15km southeast of the Iraqi city of Basra.
Photographs: Atef Hassan/Reuters
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Each crude oil has unique molecular characteristics which are understood by the use of crude oil assay analysis in petroleum laboratories.


Image: An employee of the Canadian Pacific Rubiales Petroleum Company ascends an oil storage tank in Campo Rubiales field in Meta, eastern Colombia.
Photographs: Jose Miguel Gomez/Reuters
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