Economic Sectors: Energy--Hydrocarbons


Figure 1.--Oil and tar was for millenia a substancc of little or no use. The beginning of oil as a vluable profucr was in America. The first known oil well was drilled in China (4th centuru AD) Very little came of it. Edwin Drake drilled the first oil well in America near Titusville, Pennsylvania (1859). A great deal came from it. Here we see an oil field somewhere in the United States during 1924. America at the time was the primary world producer of oil and petroleum products. The history was the 20th century was fundamentally shazped by that simple fact.

Hydrocarbons are organic compoundd consisting exclusively of hydrogen and carbon. Carbon has four electrons in its outermost shell and thus four bonds to make. It is only stable if all four bonds are made. The carbon atoms join together to form the framework of the compound, and the hydrogen atoms attach to them in many different configurations. The various hydrocarbon molecules contain different numbers of carbon anf hydrogen joined together in different patterns. There are two types: Aliphatic Hydrocarbon (open chain) and Cyclic Hydrocarbon (closed chain). Some of the important molecules include: benzene, butane, ethene, hexane, keroscene, methane, napthene, octane, propane, propene, and others. The most important fuels (diesel, gasoline, and aviation fuel) are not molecules, but are made up of a mix of hydrocarbon molecules. The exact mix defends on the crude oil and the refinery process. Oil drilling and petro-chemocals are sometime included within the mining sector. Drilling and mining are different and the product, oil and gas, is not a metal. Hydrocarbons occur in two primary forms: petroleum and natural gas. They at first were used fo lihting and lubricants. When the internal combustion engine was developed, it became a primary fuel. Chemists over time developed many othes uses for oil as a raw material to produce: plastics, fibres, rubbers, solvents, explosives, and industrial chemicals. Just as the 19th century was dominated by coal. The 20th century was dominated dominated by a whole new enery source--oil. Natural gas was at first flared, but by the late-20th century had becoming an increasinly important fuel and like oil as a raw material. Oil at first was used primarily to produce kersoscene for lighting as whale oil availability declined. It was also used as lubricants for industrial machinery. A major impetus for oil was the military competition in Europe leading to World War I. Navies began shifting to oil and airplanes and submarines could hardly be run on coal. The development of the intenal combustion engine also drove the demand of oil. Enviromentl concerns, especilly air quality, also drove the shift. This created a problem for Europe. The great powers (Britain, France, and Germany) had coal, but no oil. Russia had oil in the Caucauses, but was not yet industrualized, albeit rapidly growing. The one industrial power that had oil was the United States. And this made a major difference in World War I. The Allies had all the oil they needed. Germany had very little. Tanks and trucks which the Allies had in large numbers had a huge impact on the battlefield. After World War I which had Americans began buying in large numbers even before the War began to reshape Amnerica and the industrial economy. This did mot occur in Europe. Workers there vcould mot afford cars and manufactuters made mo attempt to produce a car like Ford's Model-T that workers could aford. America continued to dominate the oil industry. And American oil again played a major role in the Allied World War II victory. With the development of Middle Eastern oil fields and the depletion of American fields, a major shift in world trade occurred, The oil producers formed the Organization of Petroleum Exporing Countries (OPEC) to increase oil prices. The Oil Shock and Arab Oil Embargo severely damaged both the American and European ecoonomies. It also caused a massive transfer of wealth from developed countries to oil exporters, especially in the Middle East. The industrialized countries were harmed, but little imprtant benefits were achieved in the oil countries, except greater purchases of comsumer products. Price increases could have wrecked the world economy, but American oil men developed new technologies to reopen depleted fields anf open new fields (fracking and horizontal drilling). This reversed the dcline in Ameican production and has been a major factor in keeping oil prices low. And America has even larger reserves of natural gas. Europeans have talked about using these technologies, but have failed to so. We have seen claims that geological structures are different in Eurioe, but Green opposition to hydrocarbons seem more of a factor. Not producing hydrocarbons has no benecial eniromental imacts, because the Europeans continue to import the hydrcarbons they use in large qauntity. Apparently the Europeans prefer to spend vast sums importing oil and gas from the Russians and Arabs.

Chemistry

Hydrocarbons are organic compoundd consisting exclusively of hydrogen and carbon. Carbon has four electrons in its outermost shell and thus four bonds to make. It is only stable if all four bonds are made. The carbon atoms join together to form the framework of the compound, and the hydrogen atoms attach to them in many different configurations. The various hydrocarbon molecules contain different numbers of carbon anf hydrogen joined together in different patterns. There are two types: aliphatic hydrocarbon (open chain) and cyclic hydrocarbon (closed chain). Some of the important molecules include: benzene, butane, ethene, hexane, keroscene, methane, napthene, octane, propane, propene, and others. The most important fuels (diesel, gasoline, and aviation fuel) are not molecules, but are made up of a mix of the various hydrocarbon molecules. The exact mix defends on the crude oil and the refinery process.

Sector

Oil drilling and petro-chemocals are sometime included within the mining sector. Drilling and mining are different and the product, oil and gas, is not a metal.

Forms

Hydrocarbons occur in two primary forms: petroleum (oil) and natural gas. At first the primary focus was oil. Natural gas was a byproduct of oil drilling and flared. But after World War II natural gas has become increasingly important. At first natural gas was mostly home for bhome heating, but it is now used for the amew purposes as oil. And it is both cheaper and much more abudant. They at first were used fo lighting and lubricants. When the internal combustion engine was developed, it became a primary fuel. Chemists over time developed many othes uses bfor oil as a raw material to produce: plastics, fibres, rubbers, solvents, explosives, and industrial chemicals.

Chronology

Just as the 19th century was dominated by coal. The 20th century was dominated dominated by a whole new enery source--oil. Oil played a major role in the economy and history of the 20th century. Natural gas was at first flared, but by the late-20th century had becoming an increasinly important fuel and like oil as a raw material. There is a great interet among Greens to reduce hydrocarbon usage because of emission and the green house impact. There is, however, a vast misunderstanding among the Greens and public in general concerning the ability of renewables to produce the amount of energy needed by modern society and the cost of production.

The 19th century

Oil at first was used primarily to produce kersoscene for home lighting. Whale oil had been used for lighting in the early-19th century. But as whalers depleted the whale populations and a human populations grew, a new lighting source was needed. This proved to be keroscene which is what crude oil refineries mostly sought to mproduce. Oil was also used as lubricants for industrial machinery.

The 20th century

A major impetus for oil was the military competition in Europe leading to World War I. Navies began shifting to oil and airplanes and submarines could hardly be run on coal. The developmnt of the intenal combustion engine also drove the demand of oil. Enviromentl concerns, especilly air quality, also drove the shift. This created a problem for Europe. The great powers (Britain, France, and Germany) had coal, but no oil. Russia had oil in the Caucauses, but was not yet industrualized, albeit rapidly growing. The one industrial power that had oil was the United States. And this made a major difference in World War I. The Allies had all the oil they needed. Germany had very little. Tanks and trucks which the Allies had in large numbers had a huge impact on the battlefield. After World War I which had Americans began buying in large numbers even before the War began to reshape Amnerica and the industrial economy. This did mot occur in Europe. Workers there vcould mot afford cars and manufactuters made mo attempt to produce a car like Ford's Model-T that workers could aford. America continued to dominate the oil industry. And American oil again played a major role in the Allied World War II victory. With the development of Middle Eastern oil fields and the depletion of American fields, a major shift in world trade occurred, The oil producers formed the Organization of Petroleum Exporing Countries (OPEC) to increase oil prices. The Oil Shock and Arab Oil Embargo severely damaged both the American and European ecoonomies. It also caused a massive transfer of wealth from developed countries to oil exporters, especially in the Middle East. The industrialized countries were harmed, but little imprtant benefits were achieved in the oil countries, except greater purchases of comsumer products. The major oilmproducers continue to be major consumers of, but have not developed the capability of producing goods and services other than oil and oil related or financed good and ervices.e

The 21st century

Hydro carbon price increases could have wrecked the world economy, but American oil men developed new technologies to reopen depleted fields anf open new fields (fracking and horizontal drilling). This reversed the dcline in Ameican production and the United States is now a major producer of oil and natural gas. This has been a major factor in keeping oil prices low in America and around the world. And America has much larger larger reserves of natural gas, largely untapped. Europeans who have to import ,ost of their oil and natural gas have talked about using these technologies, but have failed to so. There have been some limited attempts. We have seen claims that geological structures are different in Europe. We are unable to assess those claims at this time. Green opposition to hydrocarbons seem more of a factor in preventing fracking and horizontal drilling in Europe. Not producing hydrocarbons has no benecials ebniromental imacts, because the Europeans continue to import the hydrcarbons they use in large quantity. They also use coal even though natural gas is much more clean burning. Some European countries are turning against nuclear which means they will have to use more coal and/or hydrocarbons. There is great interest in renewables, but the technology does not exist at this time to replace hydrocarbons with newnewals. Renewable energy production can be increased, but at this time it is generally more expensive and can only replace a small part of hydrcarbon demand. And there are a range of problems with renewables. Apparently the Europeans prefer to spend vast sums importing oil and gas from the Russians and Arabs.

Country Trends

Hydrocarbons had only limited economic use in the 19th century. As industrial economies developed, interest in hydrocarbons increased as lubricants became more important. This began in the United States, primarily because the United States had a subtantial oil resource. The first well was drilled in Pennsylvania (1859). The oil industry would eventually shit to Texas. Lubricants were important that the major use of oil at first was kerosene for lightening. It is only as the use of oil products for fuel become apparent that other countries began to take a major interest in oil. And the next country unsurpringly was Britain. This was because oil had many advantages overr coal as a fuel for naval vessels which was a great advantage to the Royal Navy. The U.S. Navy also shifted from coal to oil. Britain did not have a domestic oil resource, but had good relation with the United States and command of the oceans. Germany did not make the change because they did not have significant domestic sources of petroleum and realkized that if a war broke out the British Royal Navy could prevent imports. Oil was dicoivered in the Persian Gulf (Iraq and Iran) which is why the Germans became interested in a Berlin to Bagdad Railroad. The Royal Navy blockladed Gemany in Workd War I. After the War, the British whi had seized Iraq from the Ottomans began developing the oil resource. The United States began developing oil in Venezuela. The oil majors developed oil fields in Mexico which were natioanlized after the Revolution. The British and Dutch develped oil resources in the Dutch East Indies (DEI--Indonesia) and British Borneo (Malaysia). The Soviet Union developed oil fields in the Caucaus that had been discovered before World War I during the Tsarist era. The oil majors discovered oil resources in Arab countries (especially Saudi Arabia) during the inter-War era, but they would not be developed until after the War. Adolf Hitler after sizing power in Germany began planning for war (1933). And part of that paln wa to build and synfuel industry. This and fiields in Romanian would power the Wehrmacht. Eventually the need for oil would lure Hitler into the Soviet Union (1941). Japan, another country intent on wae, like its Axis ally had no domestic oil resources. And even worse was dependent on Anerican oil. As part of a plan to seize the oil fields in what they called the Southern Resource Zone (SRZ), the Japanese attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor bringing America into the War (1941). American oil would play an inmprtant role in the Allied victory. After the War, American economic expanion resulting in ever increasing oil consumption and eventually the need to imprt oil. The Arab countries became major exporters resulting in a massive wealth transfer. The Organiztion of Petroleum Exporting Counties (OPEC) was founded (1960). Britain and Norway began developed North Sea oil reducing Europe's depebdence on Arab oil somewhat (1965). As part of the effort to destoy Israel, the Arab countries instituted an oil emmbargo (1973). Sadam Hussein needing funds for his war with the mullahs in Iran, invaded Kuwait (1990), touching off the Gulf War (1990-91). OPEC's constant price increases help American oil men develop new method for extracting hydrocarbons (both oil and gas) eventually leading to American self-suffiency. Russia was developing an industrail economy. After the implosion of the Soviet Union, the Russian economy has become based on largely exporing raw material--primarily hydrocarbons. China after adopting market reforms (capitalism) has become a major industrial power. It has a oil indudry, but has to import large quantiies of hydrocarbons. The Venezuelan shift to Communism has in other countries has destoyed the economy, becoing the only starving oil rich country.







HBC






Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main Economic Sector page]
[Return to the Main Economics page]
[About Us]
[Introduction] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Climatology] [Clothing] [Disease and Health] [Economics] [Freedom] [Geography] [History] [Human Nature] [Ideology] [Law]
[Nationalism] [Presidents] [Religion] [Royalty] [Science] [Social Class]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Children in History Home]






Created: 8:08 PM 9/28/2017
Last updated: 7:41 PM 4/3/2019