The History Of Oil

Energy is one of the biggest resource commodities we know of. We have gone through many transitions in order to obtain energy – from wood to whale oil to coal to finally, oil. So although we all rely on oil on a daily basis, how did we get oil in the first place?

Many believe Captain Edwin Drake was the first to drill oil in 1859. However, evidence has arisen that suggests otherwise.

Archaeologists believe the use of oil dates back to cavemen. So 40 000 years ago cavemen were extracting oil to improve their weapons made of sticks and stones, using oil as an adhesive.

The use of oil developed, as did society in 3 000 BC, and people were using oil and natural gas to waterproof canoes, baths, baskets and drains. They were also using it to construct buildings.

Natural asphalt was used for the construction of walls and towers by Babylonians in ancient Mesopotamia.

In 1000 BC the ancient Greeks built a temple around the Mountain Parnassus that hosted a Priestess known as the Oracle of Delphi. Her prophecies were supposedly inspired by the divine flame that was emitted from the mountain. This ‘divine’ flame was a result of lightning that struck a crack in the rock where natural gas was seeping out of the mountain.

It was in 500 BC when gas became a commodity, and the Chinese were the driving force behind it. They would search for natural gas seeping out the ground, create pipelines made from bamboo shoots, and then lead these pipes to the base of a large pot. The natural gas would feed the fire in order to separate the salt from the water in the pot, thus producing drinkable water.

The next notable use of oil was in 1821 in the USA. It was William Hart who drilled the first 27-foot oil well in New York, Fredonia. His find was directed by the Native Americans. When Hart asked them where the natural gas was, he was pointed to “Burning Creek”, which the Native Americans worshipped due to the natural gas flowing out of it. The find was a success because seeping gas generally means that there is a large reservoir beneath the surface where the high-pressure literally pushes out the high-quality oil.

That is how Captain Drake knew to drill in Titusville – by finding spots that had natural gas seeping forth. It was made easier because the Seneca tribe used to use the oil from the “Oil Creek” for remedies. Seneca Oil, the company that had commissioned Captain Drake to drill, abandoned him and the progress was doomed to fail when the well was about to collapse. Captain Drake had the perseverance to continue in the face of adversity and displayed great ingenuity when he decided to drill with a drive pipe. In the end, Captain Drake was the first to drill with an alternative method to the borehole method.

Since then oil has been in large demand and many believe we are consuming crude oil faster than nature can produce it. Most of the easy-to-get oil has already been drilled so the future of oil looks most uncertain. There are talks of deep-sea drilling, which is incredibly expensive, and other alternative means of obtaining energy. However, the best way to conserve our lifestyle at the moment is to conserve and recycle oil.

Image Attribution: Paweena Oil & Gas,sa
Hi, my name is Terrence Stoker. Recently there have been so many debates in oil conferences about the future of oil, so I thought it would be interesting to research the history of oil.