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Who Discovered Oil and How Did They Know What to Do With It?

 
 
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2005 12:35 pm
My searches come up with lots of info on the discovery of oil in... (insert country) and the economic consequences, etc.

Does anyone know how oil was first discovered? Who found it? And, how did they know what it was or how to use it?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 47,649 • Replies: 16
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Aug, 2005 04:48 pm
Setanta can probably give you a detailed rundown, but here's my tuppence worth of knowledge.

Humans had known that oil of any kind -- whether squeezed from vegetables, obtained from sperm whales, or scooped up from the ground -- burns quite nicely. The ancients used mainly vegetable oil for their lamps. Later on, whaling became a major industry primarily because of the flammable oil to be obtained from the beasts. Whale oil is what provided the fuel for lights in Colonial times in the USA. There was black stuff bubbling up from the ground here and there, too. But that ruined otherwise good crop land as far as the farmers were concerned. Then, in 1841, I believe, some bright entrepeneur in Pennsylvania discovered that with a suitable pump and platform, he could pump barrels of this black stuff out of the ground and, furthermore, that it could be used in lieu of whale oil if properly processed. Much cheaper at the time than whale oil. Eventually, it virtually put the whaling ships out of business and the petrochemical industry was born.

This is all from memory, mind you, so if any of my facts are wrong or incomplete, please feel free to correct me.
squinney
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Aug, 2005 07:26 am
Thanks, Andrew.

I tried googling oil pennsylvania and got a little more info.

Just amazes me how this kind of thing is discovered and put to use.

This also got me to thinking about the idea of the continents being connected at one time, dinosaurs/ fossils being the the source of oil and how many wells are in the ocean.

Now, how did that happen?
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Aug, 2005 08:29 am
Wikipedia is a good source for these types of questions.

Wiki article on history of petroleum
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Aug, 2005 08:33 am
And read this interesting statement by Ignacy Łukasiewicz (in 1853) who is purported in one article as the founder of the petroleum industry.

Quote:

This lotion is the future wealth of this country, it's the welfare and prosperity for its inhabitants, it's a new source of income for the poor people and a new branch of industry, which shall bear plentiful fruits
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Aug, 2005 11:40 am
ebrown_p wrote:
And read this interesting statement by Ignacy Łukasiewicz (in 1853) who is purported in one article as the founder of the petroleum industry.

Quote:

This lotion is the future wealth of this country, it's the welfare and prosperity for its inhabitants, it's a new source of income for the poor people and a new branch of industry, which shall bear plentiful fruits


Gad! Was this guy a prophet or what.
0 Replies
 
EamonnKeane
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Aug, 2005 06:33 am
I think it was first burned used in China to get salt from sea water
squinney
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Aug, 2005 07:15 am
Yes, according to the Wikipedia link ebrown provided it was China. Wonder what happened to their oil.

Also found it interestng that there is another theory as to its origin. I grew up being taught it was from dinosaur fossils,but now there is a theory that it was part of the earth first developing.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Aug, 2005 07:32 am
Quote:
The ancient Sumerians, Assyrians, and Babylonians used crude oil and asphalt ("pitch") collected from large seeps at Tuttul (modern-day Hit) on the Euphrates for many purposes more than 5,000 years ago. Liquid oil was first used as a medicine by the ancient Egyptians, presumably as a wound dressing, liniment, and laxative.
Liquid oil was first used as a medicine by the ancient Egyptians, presumably as a wound dressing, liniment, and laxative.

Oil products were valued as weapons of war in the ancient world. The Persians used incendiary arrows wrapped in oil-soaked fibres at the siege of Athens in 480 BC. Early in the Christian era the Arabs and Persians distilled crude oil to obtain flammable products for military purposes. Probably as a result of the Arab invasion of Spain, the industrial art of distillation into illuminants became available in western Europe by the 12th century.

Several centuries later, Spanish explorers discovered oil seeps in present-day Cuba, Mexico, Bolivia, and Peru. In North America oil seeps were plentiful and were noted by early explorers in what are now New York and Pennsylvania, where the Indians were reported to have used the oil for medicinal purposes.



Until the beginning of the 19th century, illumination in the United States and in many other countries was little improved over that known by the early Greeks and Romans. The need for better illumination that accompanied the increasing development of urban centres made it necessary to search for new sources of oil, especially since whales, which had long provided fuel for lamps, were becoming harder and harder to find. By the mid-19th century kerosene, or coal oil, derived from coal was in common use in both North America and Europe.

The Industrial Revolution brought on an ever-growing demand for a cheaper and more convenient source of lubricants as well as illuminating oil. It also required better sources of energy. Energy had previously been provided by human and animal muscle and later by the combustion of such solid fuels as wood, peat, and coal. These were collected with considerable effort and laboriously transported to the site where the energy source was needed. Liquid petroleum, on the other hand, was a more easily transportable source of energy. Oil was a much more concentrated and flexible form of fuel than anything previously available.

The stage was set for the first well specifically drilled for oil, a project undertaken by Edwin L. Drake in northwestern Pennsylvania. The completion of the well in August 1859 established the groundwork for the petroleum industry and ushered in the closely associated modern industrial age. Within a short time inexpensive oil from underground reservoirs was being processed at already existing coal-oil refineries, and by the end of the century oil fields had been discovered in 14 states from New York to California and from Wyoming to Texas. During the same period, oil fields were found in Europe and East Asia as well.


source: Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved August 21, 2005, from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service

The word petroleum (literally "rock oil" from the Latin petra, "rock" or "stone", and oleum, "oil"), btw, was first used in 1556 in a treatise published by the German mineralogist Georg Bauer, known as Georgius Agricola.
0 Replies
 
Asherman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Aug, 2005 09:49 am
Our distant ancestors probably noted that the fats dripping from meat on a spit often catches fire. From there it is a short step to saving bits of fat for the express purpose of making fire easily. If fat works, then why not the viscous pressing of fruits etc.? This may have been how humans came to burn oil, which after all is highly refined products of fat.

In and around Baku oil and natural gasses are present in large quantities and near the surface of the earth. Very ancient authors talk about the land at times spontaneously breaking into flame. This is the region where Zarathustra lived, and whose people worshiped fire long before the invention of literacy. Pools of the black stuff in that area accompanied by invisible natural gas (wich is naturally odorless) was used as fuel very, very early. The Baku petroleum fields produced some of the first modern oil millionaires in the 19the century, provided a motive for Hitler's drive to the East, and are still today highly productive. This is the source of much of the Russian oil reserves.

I don't believe that anyone fully understands the formula for Greek Fire, but almost certainly a petroleum product must have been one of the constituents. Greek Fire was one of the terrors of ancient warfare, especially aboard wooden naval vessels. As near as I understand it Greek Fire was something like a modern flamethrower. It was projected outward as a long flame that that stuck to its targets and burned exceptionally hot. Some writers believe that Greek Fire was delivered by catapult. Perhaps both systems were used.

During the roughly 1,000 years between the fall of Rome and the beginning of the Renaissance, castles were designed so that burning oil could be dumped from the ramparts onto the enemy crowded beneath the curtain walls. During the 19th century whaling was founded upon the extremely fine oils that could be rendered from whale carcasses. The invention of kerosene refined from oil pumped from the ground pretty much killed the whaling industry, if you'll pardon my pun.

The use of petroleum and fat products as medicine and cosmetics may be as old as the use of oil as fuel. How effective were petroleum products as medicine and eye-liner? Though they must have developed quite a stench in olden times, petroleum remains an important ingredient in many chemical formulations, medicine and cosmetics.

Hope that helps a bit.
0 Replies
 
JamesMorrison
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Aug, 2005 11:33 am
I found it interesting that in the production of the substitute for whale oil, kerosene, by the distillation of petroleum, a pesky "waste product" with little known use was merely dumped into streams to get rid of it. This waste product was gasoline.

The history of gasoline and the attempts at adjusting its natural point of ignition when compressed in the internal combustion engine is interesting. This attribute of gasoline is known as its octane number. Many equate higher octane ratings with gasoline that yields more power and therefore worth more money at the pump. This is simply not true. One can get more power from higher octane fuel, but this extra energy is a result of engines that are designed to run with higher compression ratios. Higher ratios simply mean that the gas/air charge is squeezed into a smaller volume in the combustion chamber. The physics involved then allows the production of more power. Higher octane fuel simply allows the gas/fuel charge to be ignited at the correct time in the engine power cycle and prevent "Pre-ignition", "Dieseling" or "Run On".
However, with today's engine computers this is much less problematic in today's cars. The computer allows the engine to adjust to different conditions using other real-time methods.

Simply put, if the vehicle's manual says it is OK to use 87 octane (Regular) there is absolutely no advantage to using fuel with a higher octane rating. Doing so, we merely waste money. Further, the Gas companies' claim that other additives such as cleaning agents adds legitimate value must be weighed against the cost of not using them, if any. That is, what is the extra cost of this type of detergent gas as opposed to that incurred by an injector cleaning job?

JM
0 Replies
 
michaeldoc
 
  2  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 03:27 pm
Well, I heard that it happened like this. Come and listen to the story of a man named Jed, a poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed. Then one day he was shooting at some food, when up from the ground came a bubbling crude, oil that is, black gold, Texas tea. Well the first thing you know ole Jed's a millionare. The kinfolk said "Jed move away from there". They said "Californie is the place you ought to be" so they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly, Hills that is, swimming pools, Movie stars!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Reyn
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 06:02 pm
@michaeldoc,
michaeldoc wrote:
...so they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly, Hills ...

So, if they loaded up the truck immediately upon discovering oil, is this putting the cart before the horse?
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NSFW (view)
NSFW (view)
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Nov, 2012 03:14 pm
@fuckyouthunder,
you been carrying this grudge of 7 years Shocked
0 Replies
 
fuckyouthunder
 
  0  
Reply Mon 19 Nov, 2012 03:16 pm
@EamonnKeane,
alrighty then
0 Replies
 
 

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