Petroleum

Oil sits in deep underground reservoirs. Like other fossil fuels, this liquid is the end-product of millions of years of decomposition of organic materials. Since the ultimate amount of oil is finite and cannot be replenished once it is extracted and burned - it is a nonrenewable resource. Once extracted, oil can be refined into a number of fuel products - gasoline, kerosene, liquefied petroleum gas (such as propane), distillates (diesel and jet fuels) and "residuals" that include industrial and electricity fuels.

Facts

  • Oil is the lifeblood of America’s economy. Currently, it supplies more than 40% of our total energy demands and more than 99% of the fuel we use in our cars and trucks.
    Read more at the Department of Energy.
  • U.S. oil production peaked in 1970. Since 1994 the U.S. has been importing more oil than it produces, and today over two-thirds of the oil we consume is imported, making us the largest importer of oil in the world.
    Read more at the Energy Information Administration.
  • In the event the United States is confronted with a serious disruption in oil supplies, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve can provide an emergency supply of crude oil.   The oil is stockpiled in underground salt caverns along the Gulf of Mexico coastline and can hold up to 700 million barrels of oil.
    Read more at the Department of Energy.
  • Drilling and refining oil produces air pollutants, toxic and hazardous materials, all of which can impact the health and safety of workers and wildlife. Loss of huge stretches of wildlife habitat also occur during drilling.
    Read more at the Power Scorecard.
  • Oil-fired conventional steam plants used for electricity generation require large amounts of water for steam and cooling, and can negatively impact local water resources and aquatic habitats. Sludge and oil residues that are not consumed during combustion become a solid waste burden and contain toxic and hazardous wastes.
    Read more at the Power Scorecard.
  • In 2004, the three countries that consumed the most petroleum products were the United States (20.7 million barrels per day), China (6.4 million barrels per day), and Japan (5.4 million barrels per day).
    Read more at the Energy Information Administration.