Earlier HistoryMore than four thousand years ago, according to Herodotus and confirmed by Diodorus Siculus,asphalt was employed in the construction of the walls and towers of Babylon; there were oil pits near Ardericca (near Babylon), and a pitch spring on Zacynthus ( Ionian islands, Greece ).Great quantities of it were found on the banks of the river Issus , one of the tributaries of the Euphrates. Ancient Persian tablets indicate the medicinal and lighting uses of petroleum in the upper levels of their society.
The earliest known oil wells were drilled in China in 347 AD or earlier. They had depths of up to about 800 feet (240 m) and were drilled using bits attached to bamboo poles. The oil was burned to evaporate brine and produce salt. By the 10th century, extensive bamboo pipelines connected oil wells with salt springs.The first streets of Baghdad were paved with tar, derived from petroleum that became accessible from natural fields in the region. In the 9th century, oil fields were exploited in the area around modern Baku, Azerbaijan. These fields were described by the Arab geographerAbu al-Hasan 'Alī al-Mas'ūdī in the 10th century, and by Marco Polo in the 13th century, who described the output of those wells as hundreds of shiploads.Petroleum was distilled by the Persian alchemist, Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi (Rhazes), in the 9th century,producing chemicals such as kerosene in the alembic (al-ambiq), and which was mainly used for kerosene lamps.
Through Islamic Spain, distillation became available in Western Europe by the 12th century. It has also been present in Romania since the 13th century, being recorded as păcură.
In 1745 under the Empress Elisabeth of Russia the first oil well and refinery were built in Ukhta by Fiodor Priadunov. Through the process of distillation of the "rock oil" (petroleum) he received a kerosene-like substance, which was used in oil lamps by Russian churches and monasteries (though households still relied on candles).
Oil sands were mined from 1745 in Merkwiller-Pechelbronn, Alsace under the direction of Louis Pierre Ancillon de la Sablonnière, by special appointment of Louis XV. The Pechelbronn oil field was active until 1970, and was the birth place of companies like Antarand Schlumberger. The first modern refinery was built there in 1857.
In 1854, Benjamin Silliman, a science professor at Yale University in New Haven, was the first person to fractionate petroleum by distillation. Meerzoeff built the first modern Russian refinery in the mature oil fields at Baku in 1861. At that time Baku produced about 90% of the world's oil. Edwin Drake's 1859 well near Titusville, Pennsylvania, discussed more fully below, is popularly considered the first modern well. Drake's well is probably singled out because it was drilled, not dug; because it used a steam engine; because there was a company associated with it; and because it touched off a major boom.
The modern US petroleum industry began with Edwin Drake's drilling of a 69-foot (21 m) oil well in 1859, on Oil Creek near Titusville, Pennsylvania, for the Seneca Oil Company (originally yielding 25 barrels per day (4.0 m3/d), by the end of the year output was at the rate of 15 barrels per day (2.4 m3/d)). The industry grew through the 1800s, driven by the demand for kerosene and oil lamps. It became a major national concern in the early part of the 20th century; the introduction of the internal combustion engine provided a demand that has largely sustained the industry to this day. Early "local" finds like those inPennsylvania and Ontario were quickly outpaced by demand, leading to "oil booms" in Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma, and California.
Access to oil was and still is a major factor in several military conflicts of the twentieth century, including World War II, during which oil facilities were a major strategic asset and were extensively bombed.
Until the mid-1950s coal was still the world's foremost fuel, but after this time oil quickly took over. Later, following the 1973 and 1979 energy crises, there was significant mediacoverage on the subject of oil supply levels. This brought to light the concern that oil is a limited resource that will eventually run out, at least as an economically viable energy source.
The top three oil producing countries are Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States. About 80% of the world's readily accessible reserves are located in the Middle East, with 62.5% coming from the Arab 5: Saudi Arabia (12.5%), UAE, Iraq, Qatar and Kuwait. However, with high oil prices (above $100/barrel), Venezuela has larger reserves than Saudi Arabia due to its crude reserves derived from bitumen. [Source: Wikipedia]