How to Distinguish Crude Oil from Petroleum

When you are considering crude oil investments you will be better informed when you know a little more about the products involved. You may well know that some of the oil taken from the ground will eventually go into your gas tank as petroleum. Your children may have updated you during environmental and green lessons to inform you that soda bottles started life as oil, so what is the difference between crude oil and petroleum?

First, A History Lesson

The experts tell us that millions of years ago tiny plants and animals were buried under layers of sand and mud. Over time they decomposed, forming a mixture of hydrocarbons. These can be gaseous at one end of the scale and virtually solid at the other. This mixture is known as crude oil.

As you consider your crude oil investments you may guess that oil refineries are involved in a major way at some stage that crude oil, taken from the ground, is changed to another product before it can be used.

You might be surprised to know that crude oil varies in both color and thickness. In some areas of the world the oil is virtually colorless. It can also be black and thick in other areas. In the majority of oilfields, the crude oil is usually extremely thin and looks like brown treacle.

A Brief Technical Lesson

The diverse sources of crude oil that vary in color and viscosity can also vary in its composition. The lighter hydrocarbons may be higher in number and value within some crude oils while others may have extra heavy hydrocarbons.

Technicians measure the content of the hydrocarbons and refineries use the data to make informed decisions about which crude oil it will purchase and which is most suitable for its customers that require oil to make certain products.

As you consider your crude oil investments you may already know that crude oil is removed from wells that can be on land or under the sea bed. In some circumstances water, sand and gases, are often mixed with the crude oil, which makes it appear like caramel as it floats on the water. This blend will include the sand. Emulsifying agents are used to remove the water and the sand will naturally settle away from the oil and water. This process must be completed before it can be moved by pipelines, tankers or ships, as it is transported to the next location.

Gases are removed before the crude oil is taken from the well.

What Are Petroleum Products?

Petroleum and petroleum products are formed after the crude oil and other liquids are processed within refineries. Hydrocarbons are extracted within gas processing plants, whereas blending facilities are used to produce petroleum products. The term, petroleum, as we know it includes petroleum products and crude oil.

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