Top 5 things you should know about oil

Oil is one of the most widely used fossil fuels in the world and is found in thousands of items we encounter every day. Although everyone is reliant on oil, few people realize just how complex this resource actually is. To help demystify a few aspects of this complex fossil fuel, we’ve collected five facts you should know.

  1. There are many different types of oil. Crude oil generally refers to the unrefined product that is found in vast underground reservoirs. Oil can also be found on the surface of the Earth in naturally occurring tar pits. Crude oil is used to make all other petroleum products by a process called refining.

  2. Like coal and natural gas, oil is a fossil fuel formed from the remains of ancient marine organisms. Oil is a non-renewable source of energy. As Natural Geographic states, “it took millions of years for it to form, and when it is extracted and consumed, there is no way for us to replace it."

  3. In North America oil is generally measured in “barrels”. For reference, an oil barrel is about 42 gallons or 159 liters. Oil producers in Europe and Asia measure oil in metric tons – there are about 6 to 8 barrels of oil in 1 metric ton.

  4. Crude oil is classified as light, medium, heavy or extra heavy. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and other industry organizations classify oil by density. Conventional oil is less dense than unconventional. Conventional crude oil flows naturally and can be pumped to the surface without being heated or diluted. Unconventional crude oil cannot be pumped without being heated or diluted due to its thick, dense state.

  5. Petroleum is used in everyday household items. You may have already used petroleum today when you drove to work or school (crude oil refined to gasoline). The computer, tablet or smartphone you're reading this on is made with oil, as are surfboards or the football you like to toss around. And that’s just scratching the surface!

Stay tuned for our next oil article when we’ll we check out where oil is found and how it is extracted.

If you are curious and want to learn more about oil here are a couple great links to check out:

Test your energy IQ: which of these products are made from petroleum?

Oil and natural gas provide us with much more than fuel.

Persistent low oil prices would hamper Canada’s economy

Economic growth would be slowed by 23% through 2021, says CERI study

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