Learning Resource Center
Understanding the basics of oil and gas
It took millions of years to create Liberia's petroleum reservoirs
Basics of Petroleum E&P - courtesy of SCA, World Bank Group
Technically defined, petroleum is a natural yellow-to-black flammable liquid hydrocarbon found beneath the earth’s surface. A hydrocarbon is an organic compound made up of organic and hydrogen atoms.
Millions of years ago, before even the existence of dinosaurs, very small plants and animals lived in the huge oceans that covered the planet. When they died, their remains sank to the bottom of the ocean, piling up over time. Mud and silt that flowed down rivers covered these piles.
Over time – millions of years – these piles became very heavy. The mud and silt became rock. Pressure and heat caused a chemical change in the plant and the organic matter locked in these plants and animals became petroleum, which literally means “rock oil” or “oil from the earth.”
Watch how oil is formed (Science Learning Hub, University of Waikato ©)
Oil and Gas Educational Resources
The following are links to educational materials that will help you explain the basics of oil and gas formation and production to your students: