Posted by JR Olson | Posted in natural resources | Posted on 24-11-2014
As an integral fuel and energy source for societies around the world, oil has shaped social and political debates in the United States for more than a century and a half, ever since it was first tapped in Titusville, Pennsylvania on August 27, 1859.
The United States far and away consumes more oil than any other country in the world. The U.S. consumes nearly 6.8 billion barrels of oil annually, which accounts for one-quarter of the amount of the world’s proved oil reserves, or oil that is ready for production and use. This use powers nearly everything Americans use, including automobiles, manufacturing plants, entertainment venues, etc. How we came to be a nation dependent on oil as a primary energy source aligns with the way in which oil has been used over the ages by different types of civilizations.
Earliest Recorded Use of Oil
Oil was first produced in the United States in the late 1850s but the discovery and use of oil dates much earlier. It is thought that one of the earliest uses of oil was by the Persian military in 480 B.C., who fired arrows soaked in oil at Athenians during the Greco-Persian War. Holy Roman Emperor (Pope) Charles V adopted the use of oil imports from Venezuela as a treatment for gout in 16th century Rome.
The Middle East, China, and South America all have large petroleum deposits. Chinese wells were created around 347 A.D. with the use of bamboo pole, some of which measured as deep as 800 feet. By 1815, residents of Prague were using oil as a fuel source to light street lamps.
Use of Oil in the United States
During the Revolutionary War, Native Americans in support of colonial troops taught the American military how to use oil to treat frostbite. After the war, Seneca Oil — named after the Native American tribe residing in upstate New York — became a popular tonic and cure-all for post-revolutionary settlers.
After oil drilling commenced in Pennsylvania, Texas, Oklahoma and the gulf region, the primary use of petroleum oil was for the production of kerosene, used as a fuel for lamps. Gasoline, as a by-product of the production process for kerosene, had little to no commercial use at the time, since the automobile had yet to be invented. Kerosene remained a widely used fuel source for lighting until the invention of the incandescent light bulb.
The Important Uses of Oil
The development of the auto industry in the United States and throughout the world further expanded commercial use for oil. Although kerosene was no longer necessary as a primary energy source for lighting homes and neighborhoods, oil production increased at greater levels to meet the demands of a newly mobile society. As the U.S. and the rest of the world plunged into two world wars and various other conflicts, the need for oil as a fuel source grew greater.
In addition to fuel for cars, the list of products made from oil include diesel, floor wax, motorcycle helmets, roofing, electric blankets, footballs, bandages, and countless other products. In fact, from a 42-gallon barrel of oil — which creates nearly 20 gallons of gasoline — nearly 150 products are made from oil.
Marty Princeton, a former fund manager, currently writes on natural resources, precious metals, investment, stock portfolios and other such topics. He believes strongly that there can be considerable returns on oil and gas investments and encourages readers to look further into investing in this area.