Petroleum, along with oil and coal, is classified as a fossil fuel. Fossil fuels are formed when sea plants and animals die, and the remains become buried under several thousand feet of silt, sand or mud. Fossil fuels take millions of years to form and therefore petroleum is also considered to be a non-renewable energy source.

Petroleum is formed by hydrocarbons (a hydrocarbon is a compound made up of carbon and hydrogen) with the addition of certain other substances, primarily sulphur. Petroleum in its natural form when first collected is usually named crude oil, and can be clear, green or black and may be either thin like gasoline or thick like tar.

In 1859 Edwin Drake sank the first known oil well, this was in Pennsylvania. Since this time oil and petroleum production figure grew exponentially.

Most people tend to believe that petroleum is mostly used to power internal combustion engines in the form of gasoline or petrol. Although our autombiles and other forms of transport do consume the highest quantity of petroleum it is used for a vast array of applications.


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