Oil 101 A Few Fascinating Facts about the Oil Industry

Oil and gas midstream

The year 2013 marked the 100th anniversary of the construction of the first roadside gas station. We have been immersed in the “Gasoline Age” for so long that no one alive remembers what it was like without it, and it is now so ubiquitous that we take it for granted in our day to day lives.

It turns out that oil has a fascinating historical and material timeline from ancient China to the the modern United States.

The Firsts

  • The first known oil was produced as far back as 375AD. The wells were drilled with bamboo during China’s Eastern Jin dynasty.
  • The first pipeline in the U.S. was constructed in 1865 in Pennslyvania after oil was discovered there. Today, there are more than 200,000 miles of pipelines coursing across the nation.
  • The first oil baron was John D. Rockefeller, who established the Standard Oil Company in 1865. Within 60 years of it’s founding, gasoline sales outpaced kerosene sales and powered U.S. military equipment through World War I.
  • The Three Streams

    The oil industry into three major sections: upstream, midstream and downstream.

  • The upstream oil industry, or the exploration and production (EandP) oil industry, is one of the most lucrative and fastest growing sectors of the oil industry, even as alternative energy sources become more viable. The upstream oil industry includes practices like exploratory drilling.
  • Midstream industry represents all aspects of transporting and storing oil.
  • Downstream industry covers all of the processes that refine the oil into the products we use every day.
  • Production Today

    Partially due to a robust upstream oil industry, the U.S. produces 8.7 million barrels of oil per day as of 2014. This makes us the third largest producer of oil behind Russia and Saudi Arabia and and we are heading toward a 20 year high in oil production. While these numbers sound astronomical, the production of oil in the U.S. has dropped significantly since the 1970s due to increased reliance on other oil produces and large successes in alternative energy. It remains to be seen how oil will adapt to the future.