Oil Exploration And Refining

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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1) Explain the methods commonly used to explore for oil and gas, use diagrams to assist your answer.

Petroleum, or oil as it is more commonly referred to, is a natural fuel formed from the decay of plants and animals buried beneath the ground for millions of years under tremendous heat and pressure. Formed by a similar process, natural gas often is found in separate deposits and sometimes mixed with oil. Because oil and gas are difficult to locate, exploration and drilling are key activities in the oil and gas extraction industry. Oil and natural gas furnish about three-fourths of our energy needs, fueling our homes, workplaces, factories, and transportation systems. In addition, they provide the raw materials for plastics, chemicals, medicines, fertilizers, and synthetic fibers.

Using a variety of methods, on land and at sea, small crews of specialized workers search for geologic formations that are likely to contain oil and gas.

Sophisticated equipment and advances in computer technology have increased the productivity of exploration. Maps of potential deposits are now made using remote sensing satellites. Seismic prospecting-a technique based on measuring the time it takes sound waves to travel through underground formations and return to the surface-has revolutionized oil and gas exploration. Computers and advanced software analyze seismic data to provide 3-dimensional models of subsurface rock formations. This technique lowers the risk involved in exploring by allowing scientists to locate and identify structural oil and gas reservoirs and the best locations to drill. 4-D or "time-lapsed" seismic technology tracks the movement of fluids over time and enhances production performance even further. Another method of searching for oil and gas is based on collecting and analyzing core samples of rock, clay, and sand in the earth's layers.

After scientific studies indicate the possible presence of oil, an oil company...