Petroleum, a kind of fossil fuel also known as crude oil, is most commonly used to fuel cars and other modes of transportation, so they can bring people to their respective destinations. Moreover, petroleum is also essential in the production of plastic, asphalt and tyres. Pesticides, detergents, packaging materials and furniture also contain percentages of petroleum. With the continuous advancements in technology and growth in demand of the society, one can definitely say that petroleum is one of the most important sources of energy. The production of petroleum is composed of two parts: upstream and downstream. Upstream refers to the exploration and extraction of oil itself, while downstream refers to the supply and distribution. As the industry continues to grow and expand, impacts on the economy, environment and society cannot be avoided such as oil erosion, oil spills, and reduction of the capacity of the environment to support vegetation and wildlife. In addition, extraction can also cause the immigration of local groups, as their areas may be used as a base for the process. Relationships between countries are also strained, as some fight for the resources available, some compete for who gets which country, who makes the most money out of the resource. The oil industry is doing wonders for the economy though, especially for countries where the oil itself is coming from, since the industry provides jobs for people, therefore decreasing the rate of unemployment. It also provides energy security, and boosts the economy. Royal Dutch Shell is an oil company recognized globally. It is active in 90 countries, and is the second-largest energy company according to Forbes magazine. The researchers conducted a case study on this very company, focusing mainly on the actions they are taking to reduce the negative impacts caused by the industry. Chapter I
Petroleum is a fossil fuel formed from the decay and decomposition of organic matter. When the remains of plants and animals reach the seabed, layers of silt, composed of sand and sediments cover it up, forming a sedimentary rock. As years pass, layers increase and more and more pressure is applied, compressing the material and forming the oil. This formation is due to the heat and pressure applied, changing the remains. Petroleum is stored in porous rocks and its viscosity varies as it is extracted. It is non-renewable, as it takes millions of years to form. As a matter of fact, the oil used today has been formed over the years, since geologic periods.
This form of natural gas has actually been used since the ancient times. Egyptians used petroleum to coat mummies and seal pyramids. Babylonians and Persians used it to pave their streets, walls, and buildings together. American Indians used it for medicine and fuel. Roman emperor, Charles V, used it to treat gout. But during this time, petroleum was only extracted when it bubbled to the surface, making it a scarce resource. In 1854, a lawyer named George Bissell, along with his peers, formed the Pennsylvania Oil Company, aiming to convert petroleum to kerosene to be used in lamps. After this company failed, they formed another one called the Seneca Oil Company, and hired Edwin Drake to drill for oil in a creek in the state. It was not long until he and his crew found oil 69 ½ feet from the ground. He was able to produce thirty-five barrels a day, and was able to sell it for $20 a barrel. His good income convinced a lot to get in the business as well, even if they did not really know much about it. Pretty soon, the market got too chaotic, everyone hoping to find a well as deep as Drake’s, but to no avail, most only got up to four or five feet. John Rockefeller saw the bright future ahead of this industry, and decided to invest in oil refining in Cleveland. Pretty soon, he controlled about 26 of the refineries in Cleveland. A refinery is an...