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Understanding Why Crude Oil is More Valuable Than Gold

While there are plenty of non-renewable resources like copper and iron that are integral to the technology we use in our lives, it’s likely that crude oil is the most important non-renewable resource. Truly understanding how useful oil is requires you to know what products are created from it as well as the various processes’ byproducts.

Major Drilling

The large amount of products derived from crude oil make it extremely versatile. Everything from paraffin, an ingredient needed to make wax paper, to diesel fuel and lubricants are manufactured from it. This means that everyone, regardless of whether they drive a heavy truck for a living or are a stay-at-home mom, uses crude oil at some point. The image below, provided by Rig Source, give a great in depth look into all of the different uses.

Rig source

How Useful is Crude Oil?

The usefulness of crude oil stems from how the hydrocarbon molecules reposition and form when petroleum is heated in a large distillation tower.

When boiled, crude oil produces refinery gases that can then be made into things like propane, anesthetics and polypropylene, which is the plastic used to make Tupperware. Similar household products are made when petroleum is heated to relatively low temperatures.

It’s when you begin to heat oil to about 185 degrees F that it becomes a household name. Crude oil heated to this range creates Naphtha, which can be used in the creation of everything from paraffin to plastics that do not change shape.

When crude oil becomes a bit hotter, it becomes viable for use as a fuel. Kerosene and diesel are created between 350 to 650 degrees F.

Lubricating oil, such as the kind used in petroleum jelly or car engines, results when oil is heated from 650 to 1050 degrees F.

When petroleum is heated higher than 1,050 degrees F, it creates commercial fuel used in ships and power plants.

Though the refinery process is somewhat efficient in creating these final products, there is still some residue created. Asphalt is the natural byproduct created, but it is still essential for things like paving new roads and putting water-tight roofing on houses.

The versatility of crude oil and the wide range of products it can make when refined make it one of the most important non-renewable resources in the world. Realizing just how important this “black gold” is will allow future generations to have access to it, both from reclaimed oil byproducts and the large amount of untapped sources that still lay dormant underground.

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