"Petroleum is one of the most valuable natural resources in the world. Some people call petroleum black gold, but it may be better described as the lifeblood of industrialized countries. Fuels made from petroleum provide power for automobiles, airplanes, factories, farm equipment, trucks, trains, and ships. Petroleum fuels also generate heat and electricity for many houses and business places." (http://www.fueloil.com) The word petroleum is a compound word derived from two Latin words meaning "rock oil." This valuable resource is a staple in today's energy consuming world. Not only is it a primary energy source, but in developed countries, it provides jobs, and serves as a pivot point of political power. Today's world is essentially dependant on petroleum for a number of reasons.
Most Petroleum is found as crude oil in underground formations called "traps," collecting in the pores of certain kinds of rock. It is also stored in solid form inside various sands and rocks. Although the world hasn't been extensively dependent on petroleum until recently, its presence has been known for quite some time. It is found in numerous Biblical references, where it is referred to as "pitch," and was used to build walls and ships, mummify the deceased, and pave streets. In the 1600's, missionaries observed American Indians gathering petroleum from surface pools, in order to use it for fuel and medicine. It slowly gained popularity with Americans until 1840, when the invention of kerosene lamps caused a great demand for oil as fuel. This boom was responsible for the formation of a number of pipelines and railroads, built to make the transport of the valuable resource more efficient. America was not the only country to discover the value of petroleum: Italy, Canada, Poland, Peru, Germany, Russia, Venezuela, India, Indonesia, Japan, Trinidad, Mexico, and Argentina soon followed with oil production of their own.