The petroleum industry includes the global processes of exploration, extraction, refining, transporting, and marketing petroleum products. The largest volume products of the industry are fuel oil and gasoline. Petroleum is also the raw material for many chemical products, including pharmaceuticals, solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, and plastics.
Many people unfamiliar with the petroleum industry visualize oil existing in "underground lakes" – essentially buried stock tanks. If this were true, finding and producing oil and gas would be extremely simple and inexpensive. The reality is, however, that oil and gas reservoirs are in "solid rock," with the hydrocarbons occupying only the tiny pores and fractures within the rock.
Petroleum (literally meaning 'rock oil') consists of, naturally occurring and through geological processes, generated hydrocarbons and associated non-hydrocarbon substances. Depending on molecular composition, prevailing reservoir temperature and pressure, natural hydrocarbons may occur in a semi-solid, liquid or gaseous phase, respectively referred to as asphaltic bitumen (including tar and natural asphalt), extra-heavy oil, heavy oil, light oil (the latter also referred to as conventional oil) and natural gas.
The most important concerns of the petroleum refining Industry in the near future are: meeting the growing market of cleaner fuels, gradual substitution of scarce light low – sulfur refinery feeds by heavy high – sulfur ones, and the decreasing demand for heavy fuel oil .One solution of the above problems is using residue upgrading processes. Furthermore, economic and strategic reasons promote the exploitation of refining residua and also considerable reserves of very heavy crude oils.
North America and OECD Europe remain major suppliers of both oil and natural gas but are also among the biggest consumers, so have until recently been experiencing an overall rise in energy imports. The impact of high energy prices in 2008, followed by the savage recession of 2009, reversed at least temporarily the demand trend in many countries. Production is generally stagnant, with most countries having reached maturity and struggling to maintain current output.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) is the only national trade association that represents all aspects of America's oil and natural gas industry—an industry which supports 9.2 million American jobs and 7.7 percent of the U.S. economy. Our more than 490 corporate members, from the largest major oil company to the smallest of independents, come from all segments of the industry. They are producers, refiners, suppliers, pipeline operators and marine transporters, as well as service and supply companies that support all segments of the industry.
As a rule of thumb it can take 3-10 years from the decision to explore, through to discovery, testing, development and the delivery of oil from a new field. The time required depends on where the oil is and thus how difficult it is to discover, test and develop. For instance, an offshore oil field in deep water can take much longer to discover and test, due to the challenging technical requirements; drilling in deep water is also difficult and can be very expensive, so the explorers need time to raise the necessary money as well as meet the new technical challenges.
For a president who has drawn withering criticism from the energy industry on issues ranging from the Keystone XL pipeline to environmental restrictions on coal-fired power plants, the White House meeting – and a series of decisions that followed – illustrate his embrace of one fossil fuel. While Obama put his initial emphasis as president on boosting solar panels and wind turbines, natural gas is now front and center even as skepticism about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is rising among Obama’s environmental allies such as the Sierra Club.
The task of finding oil is assigned to geologists, whether employed directly by an oil company or under contract from a private firm. Their task is to find the right conditions for an oil trap – the right source rock, reservoir rock and entrapment. Many years ago, geologists interpreted surface features, surface rock and soil types, and perhaps some small core samples obtained by shallow drilling; modern oil geologists also examine surface rocks and terrain, with the additional help of satellite images.
But even though the oil industry isn't adding as many jobs as many other industries, it is adding jobs faster. Jobs in the various areas that make up the industry grew by 3% last year, a healthy pace of growth. And within those sectors, jobs drilling for oil and natural gas shot up 15.6%.
A top oil industry official delivered a clear warning to President Obama Wednesday: approve the Keystone XL pipeline or face “huge political consequences.” American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard urged Obama to quickly approve the pipeline, which would carry oil sands crude from Alberta, Canada, to refineries along the Gulf Coast. A payroll tax cut package signed into law by Obama last month includes a GOP-backed provision requiring the president to make a final decision on the pipeline within 60 days.