WebQuest

Risks and Benefits of Oil Drilling for American Oil

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What Is Crude Oil?

Crude oil is a smelly, yellow-to-black liquid and is usually found in underground areas called reservoirs. Scientists and engineers explore a chosen area by studying rock samples from the earth. Measurements are taken, and, if the site seems promising, drilling begins. Above the hole, a structure called a 'derrick' is built to house the tools and pipes going into the well. When finished, the drilled well will bring a steady flow of oil to the surface.

How Was Crude Oil Formed?

Oil was formed from the remains of animals and plants (diatoms) that lived millions of years ago in a marine (water) environment before the dinosaurs. Over millions of years, the remains of these animals and plants were covered by layers of sand and silt. Heat and pressure from these layers helped the remains turn into what we today call crude oil. The word "petroleum" means "rock oil" or "oil from the earth."

Where Is Oil Produced?

Crude oil is produced in 31 States and U.S. coastal waters. In 2010, 51% of U.S. crude oil production came from five states:

Texas (21%)
Alaska (11%)
California (10%)
North Dakota (6%)
Louisiana (3%)

About one-third of U.S. crude oil was produced from wells located offshore in State and Federally administered waters of
the Gulf of Mexico.

What Products Are Made From Oil?

Other products made from petroleum include:

Ink
Crayons
Dishwashing Liquids
Deodorant
Eye Glasses
Tires
Ammonia
Heart valves
CDs and DVDs

How Does Oil Production Impact The Earth?

Products from oil (petroleum products) help us do many things. We use them to fuel our airplanes, cars, and trucks, to heat our homes, and to make products like medicines and plastics. Even though petroleum products make life easier finding, producing, moving, and using them can harm the environment through air and water pollution.

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