from The Open University
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
The Bottom Line: Autumn 2015: Crisis at VW: A Bottom Line SpecialSaturday, 10th October 2015 17:30 - BBC Radio 4In this special episode of The Bottom Line, Evan Davis and his guests discuss the emissions scandal at Volkswagen. Read more: The Bottom Line: Autumn 2015: Crisis at VW: A Bottom Line Special
The Great British Year: SpringMonday, 12th October 2015 21:00 - BBC Four
The Secret Life of Books: Series Two: The Faerie QueeneTuesday, 13th October 2015 20:30 - BBC Four
The Secret Life of Books: Series Two: The Faerie QueeneWednesday, 14th October 2015 02:30 - BBC Four
BBC Inside Science: Coral, LIGO and physicsAvailable for over a yearThis week on BBC Inside Science: coral resilience, gravitational waves and Seven Brief Lessons on Physics Read more: BBC Inside Science: Coral, LIGO and physics
The Great British Year: WinterAvailable until Friday, 6th November 2015 22:00
The Bottom Line: Autumn 2015: Crisis at VW: A Bottom Line SpecialAvailable for over a year
The ascent of woman: RevolutionAvailable until Friday, 6th November 2015 02:15
Have the Tunisian elections have started a new democratic era?October 2014 saw Tunisians vote in a return to pluralist democracy in the state. One local... Read more: Have the Tunisian elections have started a new democratic era?
OpenLearn Live: 9th October 2015Completing our tour of Rutland, creating characters & Nobel prizes. Then more free learning... Read more: OpenLearn Live: 9th October 2015
Start writing fiction: characters and storiesThis free course helps you to get started with your own fiction writing, focusing on the central... Try: Start writing fiction: characters and stories now
Introduction to bookkeeping and accountingLearn about the essential numerical skills required for accounting and bookkeeping. This free... Try: Introduction to bookkeeping and accounting now
Earth's physical resources: petroleum
The discovery of of the world's first major underground oilfield in Pennsylvania, USA...
The discovery of of the world's first major underground oilfield in Pennsylvania, USA in 1859 sparked the continuing era of the world's reliance on cheap energy from oil and gas. This unit begins by examining the geological characteristics of petroleum and the key ingredients necessary to form oil and gas accumulations. Then there is a brief description of industrial operations during the life cycle of an oilfield, starting with subsurface analysis and exploration drilling. The unit also highlights the role of safety and environmental management as an integral part of the petroleum business and concludes with a short review of global resources and non-conventional petroleum.
When you have completed this unit, you should be able to explain in your own words, and use correctly, all the bold terms printed in the text. You should also be able, among other things, to do the following:
- Interpret graphs and evaluate tables of data relating to different aspects of petroleum.
- Given basic geological information for a petroleum play, recognise the main ‘ingredients’ (petroleum charge, reservoirs, seals and traps) that contribute to its potential.
- Understand the roles played by different means of exploration in contributing to defining a petroleum play, and its evaluation.
- Describe the various options for petroleum production in different settings.
- Discuss the various hazards to operators and the environment that are presented by exploiting petroleum reserves.
- Understand the criteria used in assessing petroleum reserves globally and in the UK.
- Discuss the conditions under which unconventional petroleum resources form, and the requirements for their future exploitation.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 The chemistry of petroleum – what is petroleum?
- 2 Key ingredients for petroleum accumulation
- 3 Exploring for oil and gas
- 4 Petroleum production
- 5 Safety and the environment
- 6 Oil and gas reserves
- 7 Non-conventional sources of petroleum
- 8 Unit summary
- 9 Glossary
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn and track your progress. Make your learning visible!
Earth's physical resources: Petroleum
Oil and gas seeps have been known since earliest recorded history. Sticky black asphalt was used by the Babylonians as a roofing material, the ancient Egyptians used it to preserve their dead, and Noah supposedly caulked his Ark with it. In Azerbaijan gas seeps have burned for centuries, and therefore it is perhaps surprising that the world's first major underground oilfield was discovered in Pennsylvania, USA only as recently as 1859. That discovery launched an era in which the world became increasingly reliant on cheap energy provided by oil and gas, a reliance assured by the invention of the internal combustion engine in the late 19th century. Only now, as the issues of long-term sustainability and climate change become more apparent, are we beginning to think about unshackling ourselves from that dependency.
This unit begins by examining the geological characteristics of petroleum and the key ingredients necessary to form oil and gas accumulations. Then there is a brief description of industrial operations during the life cycle of an oilfield, starting with subsurface analysis and exploration drilling. The unit also highlights the role of safety and environmental management as an integral part of the petroleum business and concludes with a short review of global resources and non-conventional petroleum.
You will find definitions of terms highlighted in bold in the glossary towards the end of this free course (use the 'Jump to' facility on the navigation bar above).
This unit is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Earth's physical resources: origin, use and environmental impact (S278) which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in.
This is an extract from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Environmental Science courses or view the range of currently available OU Environmental Science courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Tuesday, 3rd January 2012
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.