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Petroleum Industry

The processes of oil exploration, extraction, purification, transportation, and sales are controlled by the petroleum industry. It produces petrol and fuel oil as its main products. Petrol or gasoline is an important source of energy in many industrialized nations, especially in the Middle East and Americas. It is worth mentioning that developed nations are the biggest consumers of oil with the U.S. consuming about a quarter of oil produced worldwide.

Private companies in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, Iraq, Venezuela, Kuwait, Nigeria, Libya, the United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia own the largest reserves of oil. However, in China and the Russian Federation state owned companies have the rights to extract, refine, and sell oil. In 1960, countries-exporters of oil established the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Its mandate is to unify and somehow coordinate the petroleum policies of the member countries. Today, twelve countries are members of the organization.

The petroleum industry is usually divided into several main steps. Firstly, exploration and development takes place, and then crude oil or natural gas is produced. This step is often called an upstream industry’s component. Secondly, oil is transported to customers all around the world. The second industry’s component is known as a downstream. Thirdly, the transportation of oil and natural gas products incorporates building and maintaining pipelines and marine transport. Service and supply industry plays the vital role as well. Service providers offer the necessary technical solutions to improve technological processes.

Though oil companies pay a huge amount of taxes and provide millions of jobs, their operations have significant environmental impacts. Petroleum industry is the largest source of emissions of volatile organic compounds, which contribute to the formation of smog. When fossil fuels are combusted, the greenhouse gases are produced, along with by-products that include heavy metals and sculpture dioxide. The latter contributes to the acid rains that destroy vegetation. Oil spills in the ocean became a serious problem for the coastal ecosystems.

Today, governments and environmental groups are looking for technologies that will allow people to displace oil and natural gas. Some research seems promising, for instance biofuels supplement petroleum, and electric engines are used in different countries. Either way, it is hard to predict when people will be able to go without petroleum. Therefore, the industry must take responsibility for environmental risks and improve technological processes. On the other hand, consumers should use oil and natural gas in ways that are more efficient and so reduce the overall consumption level.


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