It made the Rockefellers rich, wars are raged over it, and when its price fluctuates we end up paying more at the gas pump. But what do you really know about oil? Read on to learn more about one of the world’s most precious commodities.
The Chinese Drilled the World’s First Oil Wells in 347 AD
Long before J.D. Rockefeller ventured into the oil business, the Chinese drilled the world’s first oil wells. They used crude bits attached to bamboo poles to create their 800-feet wells as early as 347 AD. These pioneering oilmen burned the oil to evaporate brine and produce salt.
By the 10th century, the oil business was really taking off in China. Complex bamboo pipelines connected these early oil wells to salt springs.
Westerners Use Almost Five Times More Oil Than People in Developing World
Currently, oil use in the developed world averages 14 barrels per person per year. In the developing world, it is only three barrels per person,” Daniel Yergin wrote in his best-selling book The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World. “How will the world cope when billions of people go from three barrels to six barrels per person?”
It’s difficult to predict when that might occur, but for now it’s worth considering how rapidly Westerners are depleting the world’s oil supplies, especially in the United States. America accounts for roughly a quarter of the world’s oil consumption.
Oil Makes More Than You Think
We all know that oil produces the gas in our cars, trucks, and planes. In fact, two-thirds of oil in America powers local transportation. So what is the rest used for?
Oil is a key component in the manufacture of many goods. All plastic products are created with oil’s helping hand, and it’s a component of oil-based lubricants. It’s used to heat some homes, either on its own or as an element in the production of electricity. Oil is also a component of cleaning products from toothpaste to nail polish remover. Oil also helps fertilizers and pesticides used in average homes and the agricultural industry.
America Has More Oil Than You Know
We’ve all heard the political spin that we’re depleting our energy resources and that we’ll run out if we don’t transition to more renewable means. But it turns out that we’ve got plenty of oil in our own backyard.
As much as 20 billion barrels of oil is estimated to lie in the Bakken Shale formation of North Dakota and Montana. It’s thought there’s another 19 billion barrels in the tar sands of Utah, and at least 86 billion barrels in the Outer Continental Shelf. Add the 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil deposits lying in Wyoming’s Green River formation, and you can see why the Institute of Energy Research believes the United States has a 200-year supply of oil.
The biggest obstacle to accessing it is the green lobby who worries about the environmental impact of drilling for this natural resource. But if industry prevails, Goldman Sachs believes the United States will be the world’s top oil producer by 2017.
Oil is a resource many of us take for granted, but there’s much more to this black gold than meets the eye.