Crude Oil

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man

Dear Bob,
I was just inquiring if you know how crude oil is extracted and how it is refined. You spoke briefly about it in the 'Cheapo Gas' essay.
Norella T.

Crude oil is extracted from the ground in many ways. The simplest way is to find a pocket of liquid oil under the ground, drill down to it, and pump it up (just like in the old westerns and cartoons). There are also ways of extracting oil from rocks and things as well. There are many different types of crude oil found throughout the world. Some are better utilized in areas other than automotive grade fuel.

Your next question is a bit more difficult. How is it refined? To put it simply, the oil is broken down into different parts. Think of a bottle of oil and vinegar salad dressing. See how the 2 parts separate? If you wanted to, you could suck all the vinegar out of the bottle and leave just the oil. Crude refining is similar (basically only in concept not in actual procedure). Gasoline is basically extracted from the crude oil. You will also find other things in there as well that could be used for other processes. For instance, the propane that fuels your barbecue (or heats your house if you use that option) is also extracted in a similar way. Now, please bear in mind, that the actual process is much, much more complicated that I have illustrated here. However, the basic concept is there.

Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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