Economic Sectors: Oil and Petro-chemicals

Figure 1.--Oil and tar was for millenia a substancc of little or no use. The beginning of oil as a vluable profucr was in America. The first known oil well was drilled in China (4th centuru AD) Very little came of it. Edwin Drake drilled the first oil well in America near Titusville, Pennsylvania (1859). A great deal came from it. Here we see an oil field somewhere in the United States during 1924. America at the time was the primary world producer of oil and petroleum products. The history was the 20th century was fundamentally shazped by that simple fact.

Oil drilling and petro-chemocals are often included within the mining sector. Drilling and mining are different and the product, oil and gas, is not a metal. Coal is a kind of in between item, it is mined, but not a metal but used for fuel. It makes just as much sence to cosider them separately. Throughout history, energy has been a driver of both survival and then civilizatio itself. Energy in the raw form of fire appears to be the firsr step in differentiating humans from the other animals, some of which wre preying on early humans. The first major source of energy was wood, burned for warmth, lighting, and cooking. Wood has many uses besides fuel, used as a major building, but for millenia it was also used for fuel. This worked fine when populations were low. Growing populations caused envirimental damage bringing down owhole cibilzations such as Meso-America because of the enviromental damage of curring down forrests. The forests of Euope began disappearing because if the demand for lumber and the use of wood for fuel. The Industrial Revolution (mid-18th century) created an enormous demand for fuel to power machinery, especially with the invention of the stream engine (early-18th century). Early steam engines wre powered by wood, but coal quickly became the preferred fuel and it wood was more expensive and coal pound for pound packed more energy. A pound of coal produced four times as much energy as the same amount of wood and was less expensive as fotest reserves disappeared. Coal-fired railroads dramatically speed up and reduced the cost of land transportation. Steamships did the same for riverine and ocean transport. Machines powered by coal greatly increased productivity and lesened physical toil. Coal powered industrilization enabled Western society to be the first to offer a prosperous life to the average person. Coal dominated the 19th century, nut the 20th century would have dominated by a whole new enery soutce--oil. A major impetus for oil was the military competition in Europe leasing to World War I. Nacies vegan shifting to oil and airplanes and submrines could hardly be run on coal. The developmnt of the intenal combustion engine also drove the demand of oil. Enviromentl concerns, especilly air quality, also drove the shift. This created a problem for Europe. The great powers (Britain, France, and Germany) had coal, but no oil. Russia had oil in the Caucauses, but was not yet industrualized, albeit rapidly growing. The one industrial power that had oil was the United States.


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Created: 8:08 PM 9/28/2017
Last updated: 8:08 PM 9/28/2017