The oil and gas industry is over a hundred years old. It originated in the late nineteenth century and grew rapidly due to the needs for transport during the First World War. With the mass production of automobiles in the 1930s, oil became a staple of modern life.
Upstream, midstream and downstream oil
Oil and gas industry operations are usually divided into upstream, midstream and downstream oil. The upstream oil industry is concerned with exploration and includes prospecting for oil wells and seeking new sources and locations for oil and natural gas extraction. Midstream oil operations deal with transportation of oil and gas, particularly through pipelines. Downstream oil company operations refer to the process of refining crude oil for use.
Oil: then and now
The oil industry has a very old history, and the earliest oil wells were bamboo drilled wells in China, dating back to 347 AD. The beginning of the modem oil and gas industry can be dated to the late nineteenth century. The Standard Oil Company was formed in 1865 by John D. Rockefeller, the first oil “baron”. He began his his career in refining.
By the end of the First World War, oil was established as a critical military asset. It was used to power ships, tanks and trucks, and came to be seen as a strategic energy source. Gasoline sales outpaced kerosene by 1919.
Transporting oil: pipelines
The first oil pipeline in the U.S. was built in Pennsylvania in 1865, after oil was discovered there in 1859. Pipelines are used to transport both crude and refined petroleum products, including gasoline, home heating oil, diesel, aviation fuel, jet fuel and kerosene. The size of pipelines can vary from 8 to more than 30 inches in diameter. At the present time, there are around 200,000 miles of pipeline carrying oil and refined products in the U.S.
The history of the modern world has been tied to the history of oil. And future changes in the industry will continue to shape history.