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Short history of oil extraction

settala gas

Oil or rock gold represents a liquid mixture of alkane hydrocarbons and is found in deposits in the upper layers of the earth's crust. In addition, called black gold, a viscous, flammable liquid represents the main energy source of modernity. There is also talk of crude oil, that is the one extracted from the field and which has not yet been processed.

Ancient use of oil

In antiquity, people were familiar with oil and used it to fuel lamps and for medical use, particularly as a laxative and soothing agent. There was no shortage of wartime uses for petroleum, described in Homer's Iliad as an everlasting fire that could not be extinguished by water and with which arrows were sprinkled before being shot at enemy ships to set them on fire.

The use of oil was also known in the Middle East and Marco Polo speaks of it in The Million in these words:

"Anchor I say to you that in this Great Erminia (Armenia) is the ark of Noah on a great mountain, in the borders of mezzodie in towards the east, near the realm which is called Mosul, who are Christians, who are iacopini and nestarini (Nestorians), of whom we shall say beforehand. From toward the northwest it borders on Giorgens (present-day Georgia), and in these borders is a fountain, where so much oil rises and in such abundance that 100 ships would be loaded with it at a time. But it is not good for eating, but so well for burning, and good for mange [6] and other things; and for all that quarter there is no other oil burning."

(Marco Polo, the Million)

The introduction of oil to the West

Oil was subsequently brought to the West by Arab expansionism and here it was used as a medicine with open-air sources in Sicily that became spas. The coinage of the term petroleum is attributed to the German mineralogist Georg Bauer (1494-1555), who adopted it in his 1546 treatise De Natura Fossilium, although there is evidence that the Persian philosopher and scientist Avicenna coined it five centuries earlier.

Oil has been exploited in Burma since 1700, as a primary source of income and in 1885 when the British invaded the country, oil extraction passed into the hands of Burma-Shell. Oil extraction dates back to 1593, when a 35-meter well was created on the Abseron peninsula in Azerbaijian and the Russians built the first refinery here in 1837.

The birth of the modern oil industry

The birth of the modern oil industry dates back to 1850 in the United States by Edwin Drake: on August 27, 1859, the world's first profitable oil well was opened. The industry grew slowly during the 1800s and did not become of national (US) interest until the early twentieth century.

This century introduces the internal combustion engine that sustains this industry and leads to the rapid depletion of oil fields in Pennsylvania and Ontario with the oil boom in Texas, California and Oklahoma. Nations with large oil reserves begin to use for industrial purposes.

Although in the 1950s coal was still the most used fuel in the world, oil was gradually establishing itself as covering 90% of global fuel needs in the twenty-first century. Public interest in black gold is accentuated with the energy crisis of 1973 and 1979 and there is talk of the end of oil, given that it is a limited and non-renewable resource.

The trend in the price of oil

The price of a barrel of oil increased from 11 in 1998 to about 147 dollars, and then fell back (due to the global recession, but also from the "profit taking" of speculators), to 45 in December 2008. Subsequently, the Crude oil prices resumed their rise to consolidate above $ 100 in March 2011. Given the high volatility of the price of a barrel, OPEC considered cutting production to raise the cost of black gold. (To give an example: if a barrel increases by a dollar, the United Arab Emirates will receive over 100 million dollars in earnings). However, the king of Saudi Arabia ʿAbd Allāh has said he is willing to increase oil extraction to bring it back to a reasonable price.

Today oil has taken on particular value because it is a source of energy that is easy to use and transport and used for the movement of vehicles and the production of industrial chemicals. Access to this resource has led to wars such as the Gulf War and the largest reserves of black gold are found in the unstable region of the Middle East.

Given the non-renewable nature of oil, companies and governments are now studying alternative energy sources, even if none seems to be able to replace oil today. In particular, attention is turning to hydrocarbons and natural gas of which Settala Gas is an important producer and seller. Contact us for more information on hydrocarbons and their use in every industrial environment!