The products obtained from crude oil is used at almost every aspect of human lives, from fuel for all kind of transport, to plastic, containers, to our cosmetics, to tar, asphalt and the list goes on and on. The fact cannot be denier that the product of crude oil forms the major arc of the circumference of the human vicinity. These products make life easy and comfortable for us in many ways. They help in cooking, heating, transport, generation of electricity, adoring the human body, and even to a large extent manufacturing medicines.
Yes, humans cannot do away with the products of crude oil, but how safe is these products? Is it part of the reason why life expectancy is reducing? Is there a way to minimize its effect? And lastly, how do we efficiently use it, to fully benefit from it without putting our lives at risk?
CRUDE OIL is a very high complex mixture of hydrocarbons that are found underground. It is formed from pre-existing plants and animals (fossil) deposits underground over a long time (50 million to about 500 billion years) under conditions of high temperature(350°C – 500°C), pressure, etc.
The process of extraction involves drilling deep down the earth to obtain the extract. The crude oil deposits are on the bedrocks deep down the earth. After the extraction, the oil is processed into intermediate products than to the final product through a general process called fractional distillation.
The oil gives rise to different products when it is being processed in the blast furnace machine. During the refining of crude oil, high heat is applied to the oil, and at every fixed temperature range a particular product is collected as an intermediate then finally processed into finished goods for consumers. For example at a temperature range between 20°C to 200°C, butane and propane are precipitated out which are processed into LPG.
Also at a range between 315°C to 450°C complex kerosene separates, are being processed into kerosene, jet fuel, and diesel. The list goes on and on till lubricating oil, paraffin wax, and asphalt being the last products to be obtained at over 400°C.
The products from crude oil range from gaseous fuel, paraffin wax, bull tar through asphalt, sulfur to petroleum cock. All of these products are obtained at different temperatures and conditions in their raw state. Processing involves adding value to them and transfiguring them to a finished product with consumers’ aesthetic value in mind. These final products include petrol, plastic bag, and containers, pomades, liquefied petroleum gas, aviation fuel, certain vitamins, wax, kerosene, turpentine, etc.
Fuels for transportation and powering machines: All vehicles, airplanes, trains, and ships need fuel to keep them moving. These fuels are used to power the engines of the listed machines. Deiseal, petrol, aviation fuel, and pre-mix fuel are examples of fuel use.
Cosmetics for beatification: some cosmetics are made from petroleum jelly which is a product obtained from the fractional distillation of crude. These cosmetics include; pomades, shampoo, styling gels, and substances for make-up.
Fertilizers and pesticides: Aside from hydrocarbons, crude oil contain Sulphur, nitrogen, and another element in minute proportion. Some of these elements are needed by plants for growth, therefore are used to manufacture fertilizers and other agrochemicals products such as pesticides.
Clothes and plastics: plastics and some clothes are obtained from the car use oil. The crude is just a component, it is mixed with other substances and processed to produce the plastic and the clothes as the final product.
Aside from the numerous importance of crude oil, a lot goes into the extraction, processing, transportation, and storage of raw crude or its products. During these processes, there are huge destruction of the environment and the resources around us. Aside from that, the products from crude also pollute the environment to a higher degree. Below are some of the negatives impacts of crude oil and its products.
OIL SPILLAGE: Sometimes, during the extraction and refinery of crude, it spills into the sea and covers the surface of the seawater. When this happens, oxygen can no longer penetrate the water. This process makes the water oxygen-deficient leading to suffocation and death of aquatic lives.
AIR POLLUTION: When the fuels from vehicles, ships, and planes burn, they release a huge amount of CO2 which pollutes the air and goes a long way to destroy the ozone layer. As a result of the ozone layer destruction, the ultraviolet rays from the sun can penetrate and cause diseases and infections.
DESTRUCTION OF VEGETATION: After detecting the presence of crude oil, it is then extracted by drilling deep down the Earth. The vegetative cover of the area where it is found is destroyed during the process.
POLLUTION OF WATER BODIES: Most of the plastic waste end up in our one water bodies. The sea, rivers lakes, lagoon other water bodies have become a refuse dump for this plastic waste. Meanwhile, these water bodies are the major source of water for thousands of communities.
DAMAGING HUMAN HEALTH: Most petrochemical product contains poisonous substances which are not good for our health. They can cause cancers, bleach your skin or cause other dangerous health implications.
POLLUTION OF THE LAND: It takes a very long time for plastic waste to decay over 50 years, as a result of this, we say they are not biodegradable. They litter the land and some harbor stagnant waters which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Crude oil and its products are of high importance to the survival of man. They make life comfortable, efficient, and easy as we humans especially in the area of transport. For you to see its importance try to imagine a world without fuel, how will the transport sector be like? What of a world without plastic containers, cosmetics, clothes, and many more. Hmm, life will be nomadic.
Aside from all these importances, there should be a way by which we curb or reduce the dangers course as a result of extraction, refining, and processing of product from crude oil. We should focus more on recycling these products since they are not biodegradable. When we recycle these products, we minimize air, water, and land pollination thereby protecting and preserving all forms of life. Extraction and processing should be done in a more careful and controlled manner such that we don’t spill the oil into our water bodies.
Finally, I would like to encourage everyone to protect the environment in their small way. Try recycling some domestic products, try to plant trees, refuse to pollute the environment, see to it that your neighbor is doing the right thing. Do something in your small way to prevent the environment from degrading.
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.