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Globally considered as black gold, oil is top on the world’s list of natural resources. From fueling autos to providing plastics, the uses of petroleum can go on and on about. With the increasing number of human population, we depend so much on petroleum to run smoother lives through faster means of transportation, mass production of everyday consumables and in food preservation amongst other needs. Most petroleum product are used in transportation up to 70%. Internal combustion engines use bunker fuels in ships, jet fuels in air crafts and gasoline and diesel in cars and trains. However, much more depends on 30% of other non-fuel products. Even transportation would need good roads made by bitumen, cars would need tyres of synthetic rubbers made from petroleum by products and the engines would need lubricant oils. Whatever is made of plastic depends on petroleum. And there is hardly anything not made of plastic; not the pen I write with or the computer I need for typing. Unless they are bioplastics, the only way plastics are produced from alkenes, byproducts of petroleum. But if you think plastics could be substituted with pure glass or metal, you might forget to consider that the processes would be in great need of burning oils in those industries. Before the great wealth of oil was discovered, agriculture used to be the mainstay of nations. But the human population has toppled since then, giving almost no room for depending on subsistent farming. In addition to fertilizers and pesticides made from oil derivatives, we need oil to power the machines that would bring us food, to provide materials that would preserve them and to provide domestic fuel to cook them. Pharmaceutical industries make use of oil derivatives for producing drugs. In medicine, artificial implants and medical equipment are composed of oil products. They form a basis for raw materials used in industries to produce paints, waxes, fabrics for clothing, body care and cosmetic products, and where would you think the Vaseline petroleum jelly is made from? With an endless list, petroleum in today’s world is black gold indeed.     Nnenna Okeke is an artist and writer. She currently writes and edits at Connect Nigeria.

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This article was first published on 3rd February 2016

Comments (2)

2 thoughts on “Why Oil is Important”

  • Eye opener. Great work indeed.

    • Many thanks, Mathew. I used to wonder why the world is bent on it. Now we know.

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