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Petroleum (/ p ə ˈ t r oʊ l i ə m /) is a naturally occurring, yellowish-black liquid found in geological formations beneath the Earth's surface. It is commonly refined into various types of fuels.

In petroleum industry parlance, production refers to the quantity of crude extracted from reserves, not the literal creation of the product. It is the leading source of U.

CIA World Factbook [ not in citation given ]. Because petroleum is a naturally occurring substance, its presence in the environment need not be the result of human causes such as accidents and routine activities seismic exploration, drilling , extraction, refining and combustion.

Phenomena such as seeps [83] and tar pits are examples of areas that petroleum affects without man's involvement. Regardless of source, petroleum's effects when released into the environment are similar. Ocean acidification is the increase in the acidity of the Earth's oceans caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide CO 2 from the atmosphere.

This increase in acidity inhibits all marine life — having a greater impact on smaller organisms as well as shelled organisms see scallops. When burned, petroleum releases carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Along with the burning of coal, petroleum combustion may be the largest contributor to the increase in atmospheric CO 2.

About 13 percent of the world's undiscovered oil resides in the Arctic. Oil extraction is simply the removal of oil from the reservoir oil pool. Oil is often recovered as a water-in-oil emulsion, and specialty chemicals called demulsifiers are used to separate the oil from water.

Oil extraction is costly and sometimes environmentally damaging. Offshore exploration and extraction of oil disturbs the surrounding marine environment. The quantity of oil spilled during accidents has ranged from a few hundred tons to several hundred thousand tons e.

Smaller spills have already proven to have a great impact on ecosystems, such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Oil spills at sea are generally much more damaging than those on land, since they can spread for hundreds of nautical miles in a thin oil slick which can cover beaches with a thin coating of oil. This can kill sea birds, mammals, shellfish and other organisms it coats. Oil spills on land are more readily containable if a makeshift earth dam can be rapidly bulldozed around the spill site before most of the oil escapes, and land animals can avoid the oil more easily.

Control of oil spills is difficult, requires ad hoc methods, and often a large amount of manpower. Though crude oil is predominantly composed of various hydrocarbons, certain nitrogen heterocylic compounds, such as pyridine , picoline , and quinoline are reported as contaminants associated with crude oil, as well as facilities processing oil shale or coal, and have also been found at legacy wood treatment sites.

These compounds have a very high water solubility, and thus tend to dissolve and move with water. Certain naturally occurring bacteria, such as Micrococcus , Arthrobacter , and Rhodococcus have been shown to degrade these contaminants. A tarball is a blob of crude oil not to be confused with tar , which is a man-made product derived from pine trees or refined from petroleum which has been weathered after floating in the ocean.

Tarballs are an aquatic pollutant in most environments, although they can occur naturally, for example in the Santa Barbara Channel of California [94] [95] or in the Gulf of Mexico off Texas. Their composition can be used to identify their sources of origin, [97] [98] and tarballs themselves may be dispersed over long distances by deep sea currents. Robbins has argued that the advent of petroleum-refined kerosene saved some species of great whales from extinction by providing an inexpensive substitute for whale oil , thus eliminating the economic imperative for open-boat whaling.

In the United States in about 70 percent of petroleum was used for transportation e. Biological feedstocks do exist for industrial uses such as Bioplastic production. In oil producing countries with little refinery capacity, oil is sometimes burned to produce electricity. Renewable energy technologies such as solar power , wind power , micro hydro , biomass and biofuels are used, but the primary alternatives remain large-scale hydroelectricity , nuclear and coal-fired generation.

Consumption in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries has been abundantly pushed by automobile sector growth. The — oil glut even fueled the sales of low fuel economy vehicles in OECD countries. The economic crisis seems to have had some impact on the sales of such vehicles; still, in oil consumption showed a small increase.

In Goldman Sachs predicted lower demand for oil due to emerging economies concerns, especially China. In the long term, uncertainties linger; the OPEC believes that the OECD countries will push low consumption policies at some point in the future; when that happens, it will definitely curb oil sales, and both OPEC and the Energy Information Administration EIA kept lowering their consumption estimates during the past five years.

Recent upward revisions are primarily a result of US tight oil. Production will also face an increasingly complex situation; while OPEC countries still have large reserves at low production prices, newly found reservoirs often lead to higher prices; offshore giants such as Tupi , Guara and Tiber demand high investments and ever-increasing technological abilities.

Subsalt reservoirs such as Tupi were unknown in the twentieth century, mainly because the industry was unable to probe them. DaQing , China [] will continue to play a major role in increasing the world's recoverable oil. The expected availability of petroleum resources has always been around 35 years or even less since the start of the modern exploration. The oil constant , an insider pun in the German industry, refers to that effect. Peak oil is a term applied to the projection that future petroleum production whether for individual oil wells, entire oil fields, whole countries, or worldwide production will eventually peak and then decline at a similar rate to the rate of increase before the peak as these reserves are exhausted.

The peak of oil discoveries was in , and oil production per year has surpassed oil discoveries every year since Hubbert applied his theory to accurately predict the peak of U. This prediction was based on data available at the time of his publication in In the same paper, Hubbert predicts world peak oil in "half a century" after his publication, which would be Some of these predictions date from before the recession of the early s, and the consequent reduction in global consumption, the effect of which was to delay the date of any peak by several years.

Just as the U. Unconventional oil is petroleum produced or extracted using techniques other than the conventional methods. In particular, the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has resulted in a significant increase in production from previously uneconomic plays.

The large increase in tight oil production is one of the reasons behind the price drop in late Conventional vertical wells would be unable to economically retrieve these hydrocarbons. Horizontal drilling, extending horizontally through the strata, permits the well to access a much greater volume of the strata. Hydraulic fracturing creates greater permeability and increases hydrocarbon flow to the wellbore. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

For the film, see Crude Oil film. For the fuel, see Petrol. For other uses, see Petroleum disambiguation. Pumpjack pumping an oil well near Lubbock, Texas.

An oil refinery in Mina Al Ahmadi , Kuwait. History of the petroleum industry. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. October Learn how and when to remove this template message.

Unconventional oil , Oil sands , and Oil shale reserves. This article needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. Global fossil carbon emissions, an indicator of consumption, from Oil consumption by percentage of total per region from to For oil production by country, see List of countries by oil production.

For oil reserves by country, see List of countries by proven oil reserves. Top oil-producing countries million barrels per day. World map with countries by oil production information from — Fossil fuel exporters and OPEC.

Oil exports by country barrels per day, Oil imports by country barrels per day, Oil imports to US, Environmental impact of the petroleum industry. Oil spill and List of oil spills. Oil slick from the Montara oil spill in the Timor Sea, September, Volunteers cleaning up the aftermath of the Prestige oil spill.

Alternative fuel vehicle , Hydrogen economy , and Green vehicle. Alternative energy , Nuclear power , and Renewable energy. Barrel of oil equivalent Filling station Gas oil ratio List of oil exploration and production companies List of oil fields Manure-derived synthetic crude oil Oil burden Petroleum geology Thermal depolymerization Total petroleum hydrocarbon Waste oil. Archived from the original on July 7, Retrieved March 18, Marine and Petroleum Geology.

Compounds made from carbon and hydrogen". Archived from the original on July 19, Archived from the original on March 6, Environmental regulation of oil and gas. The Business published Archived from the original on July 6, What a Pennsylvania operator saw abroad — primitive methods of obtaining oil — the process similar to that used in coal mining" PDF.

A Heritage of Light: Lamps and Lighting in the Early Canadian Home. University of Toronto Press. Biography on Undiscovered Scotland". Archived from the original on The age of oil: Klein-Texas in der Lüneburger Heide". Historical dictionary of the petroleum industry.

Russian Oil and Gas Institute. Where It All Began: Canada's Oil Heritage, Oil Springs: Canada West's Last Frontier. Lambton County Historical Society, , p. History of the Chemical Industry in Lambton County. City that Oil Built". Retrieved 6 October Today in Energy — U.

Nontechnical guide to petroleum geology, exploration, drilling, and production 2nd ed. American Society of Microbiology. The chemistry and technology of petroleum 3rd ed. Archived from the original on April 11, Retrieved July 4, Mines and Minerals Act. Archived from the original on November 1, Retrieved October 2, Archived from the original on December 19, Retrieved August 29, Chemistry of fossil fuels and biofuels.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. A minerals treaty for Antarctica. United States, Office of Technology Assessment. Archived PDF from the original on February 24, Retrieved January 29, Archived from the original on January 27, Ready to Unlock the Rock".

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Archived from the original on June 14, Retrieved January 6, Retrieved 10 November Excel file Archived October 6, , at the Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on September 4, Archived from the original on May 22, Retrieved May 30, Imports by Country of Origin". Archived from the original on January 3, Retrieved February 21, Archived from the original on August 20, Retrieved May 17, Archived from the original on April 27, Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.

Archived from the original on November 19, Critical Reviews in Environmental Control. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology. Retrieved October 20, Journal of High Resolution Chromatography.

Robbins, The Freeman , August, Archived from the original on October 19, Archived from the original PDF on April 7, Revisions, accuracy and current uncertainty". Retrieved 4 April Archived from the original on December 12, Archived from the original on July 5, Drilling and Production Practice. Archived from the original PDF on May 27, Archived from the original on May 29, Archived November 17, , at the Wayback Machine.

The New York Times. Archived August 12, , at the Wayback Machine. Apocalyptic Environmentalism and Libertarian Political Culture. University of Chicago Press. Petroleum Science and Technology. Journal of the Japan Petroleum Institute in Japanese.

Energy Information Administration EIA data, which reflect combined production of crude oil and lease condensate, show a rise from 5. Increasing production of light crude oil in low-permeability or tight resource formations in regions like the Bakken, Permian Basin, and Eagle Ford often referred to as light tight oil account for nearly all the net growth in U. Beyond , the Annual Energy Outlook AEO projects further production growth, although its pace and duration remains highly uncertain.

Archived from the original on December 13, In English Teknisk Ukeblad , 11 December The lighter elements, however, form explosive vapors in the fuel tanks and are therefore hazardous, especially in warships.

Instead, the hundreds of different hydrocarbon molecules in crude oil are separated in a refinery into components which can be used as fuels , lubricants , and as feedstocks in petrochemical processes that manufacture such products as plastics , detergents , solvents , elastomers and fibers such as nylon and polyesters. Petroleum fossil fuels are burned in internal combustion engines to provide power for ships , automobiles , aircraft engines , lawn mowers , dirt bikes , and other machines.

Different boiling points allow the hydrocarbons to be separated by distillation. Since the lighter liquid products are in great demand for use in internal combustion engines, a modern refinery will convert heavy hydrocarbons and lighter gaseous elements into these higher value products. Oil can be used in a variety of ways because it contains hydrocarbons of varying molecular masses , forms and lengths such as paraffins , aromatics , naphthenes or cycloalkanes , alkenes , dienes , and alkynes.

While the molecules in crude oil include different atoms such as sulfur and nitrogen, the hydrocarbons are the most common form of molecules, which are molecules of varying lengths and complexity made of hydrogen and carbon atoms , and a small number of oxygen atoms.

The differences in the structure of these molecules account for their varying physical and chemical properties , and it is this variety that makes crude oil useful in a broad range of several applications. Once separated and purified of any contaminants and impurities, the fuel or lubricant can be sold without further processing. Smaller molecules such as isobutane and propylene or butylenes can be recombined to meet specific octane requirements by processes such as alkylation , or more commonly, dimerization.

The octane grade of gasoline can also be improved by catalytic reforming , which involves removing hydrogen from hydrocarbons producing compounds with higher octane ratings such as aromatics.

Intermediate products such as gasoils can even be reprocessed to break a heavy, long-chained oil into a lighter short-chained one, by various forms of cracking such as fluid catalytic cracking , thermal cracking , and hydrocracking.

The final step in gasoline production is the blending of fuels with different octane ratings, vapor pressures , and other properties to meet product specifications. Another method for reprocessing and upgrading these intermediate products residual oils uses a devolatilization [ permanent dead link ] process to separate usable oil from the waste asphaltene material. Oil refineries are large scale plants, processing about a hundred thousand to several hundred thousand barrels of crude oil a day.

Because of the high capacity, many of the units operate continuously , as opposed to processing in batches , at steady state or nearly steady state for months to years. The high capacity also makes process optimization and advanced process control very desirable.

Petroleum products are materials derived from crude oil petroleum as it is processed in oil refineries. The majority of petroleum is converted to petroleum products, which includes several classes of fuels. Oil refineries also produce various intermediate products such as hydrogen , light hydrocarbons, reformate and pyrolysis gasoline.

These are not usually transported but instead are blended or processed further on-site. Chemical plants are thus often adjacent to oil refineries or a number of further chemical processes are integrated into it.

For example, light hydrocarbons are steam-cracked in an ethylene plant, and the produced ethylene is polymerized to produce polyethene. Because technical reasons and environment protection demand a very low sulfur content in all but the heaviest products, it is transformed to hydrogen sulfide via catalytic hydrodesulfurization and removed from the product stream via amine gas treating.

Using the Claus process , hydrogen sulfide is afterwards transformed to elementary sulfur to be sold to the chemical industry. The rather large heat energy freed by this process is directly used in the other parts of the refinery.

Often an electrical power plant is combined into the whole refinery process to take up the excess heat. According to the composition of the crude oil and depending on the demands of the market, refineries can produce different shares of petroleum products.

The largest share of oil products is used as "energy carriers", i. These fuels include or can be blended to give gasoline, jet fuel , diesel fuel , heating oil , and heavier fuel oils. Heavier less volatile fractions can also be used to produce asphalt , tar , paraffin wax , lubricating and other heavy oils.

Refineries also produce other chemicals , some of which are used in chemical processes to produce plastics and other useful materials. Since petroleum often contains a few percent sulfur -containing molecules, elemental sulfur is also often produced as a petroleum product.

Carbon , in the form of petroleum coke , and hydrogen may also be produced as petroleum products. The hydrogen produced is often used as an intermediate product for other oil refinery processes such as hydrocracking and hydrodesulfurization. Petroleum products are usually grouped into four categories: These require blending various feedstocks, mixing appropriate additives, providing short term storage, and preparation for bulk loading to trucks, barges, product ships, and railcars.

This classification is based on the way crude oil is distilled and separated into fractions. Over 6, items are made from petroleum waste by-products including: See link to partial list of by-products listed by Ranken Energy [24].

Sample of Crude oil petroleum. Cylinders of Liquified petroleum gas. Pile of asphalt -covered aggregate for formation into asphalt concrete. The image below is a schematic flow diagram of a typical oil refinery [29] that depicts the various unit processes and the flow of intermediate product streams that occurs between the inlet crude oil feedstock and the final end products. The diagram depicts only one of the literally hundreds of different oil refinery configurations.

The diagram also does not include any of the usual refinery facilities providing utilities such as steam, cooling water, and electric power as well as storage tanks for crude oil feedstock and for intermediate products and end products.

There are many process configurations other than that depicted above. For example, the vacuum distillation unit may also produce fractions that can be refined into end products such as: The crude oil distillation unit CDU is the first processing unit in virtually all petroleum refineries. The CDU distills the incoming crude oil into various fractions of different boiling ranges, each of which are then processed further in the other refinery processing units. The CDU is often referred to as the atmospheric distillation unit because it operates at slightly above atmospheric pressure.

Below is a schematic flow diagram of a typical crude oil distillation unit. The incoming crude oil is preheated by exchanging heat with some of the hot, distilled fractions and other streams.

It is then desalted to remove inorganic salts primarily sodium chloride. Following the desalter, the crude oil is further heated by exchanging heat with some of the hot, distilled fractions and other streams. The cooling and condensing of the distillation tower overhead is provided partially by exchanging heat with the incoming crude oil and partially by either an air-cooled or water-cooled condenser.

Additional heat is removed from the distillation column by a pumparound system as shown in the diagram below. As shown in the flow diagram, the overhead distillate fraction from the distillation column is naphtha.

The fractions removed from the side of the distillation column at various points between the column top and bottom are called sidecuts. Each of the sidecuts i. All of the fractions i. A party searching for a site to construct a refinery or a chemical plant needs to consider the following issues:. Refineries which use a large amount of steam and cooling water need to have an abundant source of water. Oil refineries therefore are often located nearby navigable rivers or on a sea shore, nearby a port.

Such location also gives access to transportation by river or by sea. The advantages of transporting crude oil by pipeline are evident, and oil companies often transport a large volume of fuel to distribution terminals by pipeline. Pipeline may not be practical for products with small output, and rail cars, road tankers, and barges are used. Petrochemical plants and solvent manufacturing fine fractionating plants need spaces for further processing of a large volume of refinery products for further processing, or to mix chemical additives with a product at source rather than at blending terminals.

The refining process releases a number of different chemicals into the atmosphere see AP 42 Compilation of Air Pollutant Emission Factors and a notable odor normally accompanies the presence of a refinery. Aside from air pollution impacts there are also wastewater concerns, [28] risks of industrial accidents such as fire and explosion, and noise health effects due to industrial noise.

Many governments worldwide have mandated restrictions on contaminants that refineries release, and most refineries have installed the equipment needed to comply with the requirements of the pertinent environmental protection regulatory agencies. In the United States, there is strong pressure to prevent the development of new refineries, and no major refinery has been built in the country since Marathon's Garyville, Louisiana facility in However, many existing refineries have been expanded during that time.

Environmental restrictions and pressure to prevent construction of new refineries may have also contributed to rising fuel prices in the United States. Environmental and safety concerns mean that oil refineries are sometimes located some distance away from major urban areas. Nevertheless, there are many instances where refinery operations are close to populated areas and pose health risks. In California's Contra Costa County and Solano County , a shoreline necklace of refineries, built in the early 20th century before this area was populated, and associated chemical plants are adjacent to urban areas in Richmond , Martinez , Pacheco , Concord , Pittsburg , Vallejo and Benicia , with occasional accidental events that require " shelter in place " orders to the adjacent populations.

A number of refineries are located in Sherwood Park, Alberta , directly adjacent to the City of Edmonton.

The Edmonton metro area has a population of over 1,, residents. NIOSH criteria for occupational exposure to refined petroleum solvents have been available since Modern petroleum refining involves a complicated system of interrelated chemical reactions that produce a wide variety of petroleum-based products. For instance, an explosion in a Chicago refinery killed 20 workers in Given the highly automated and technically advanced nature of modern petroleum refineries, nearly all processes are contained within engineering controls and represent a substantially decreased risk of exposure to workers compared to earlier times.

Interestingly, even though petroleum refineries utilize and produce chemicals that are known carcinogens , the literature on cancer rates among refinery workers is mixed. For example, benzene has been shown to have a relationship with leukemia, [54] however studies examining benzene exposure and resultant leukemia specifically in the context of oil refinery workers have come to opposing conclusions.

To date, this work has shown a marginally significant link to refinery employment and mesothelioma. This study concluded that there was no excess mortality among this cohort as a result of employment [56]. BTX stands for benzene , toluene , xylene. This is a group of common volatile organic compounds VOC's that are found in the oil refinery environment, and serve as a paradigm for more in depth discussion of occupational exposure limits, chemical exposure and surveillance among refinery workers.

The most important route of exposure for BTEX chemicals is inhalation due to the low boiling point of these chemicals. The majority of the gaseous production of BTEX occurs during tank cleaning and fuel transfer, which causes offgassing of these chemicals into the air. Benzene, in particular, has multiple biomarkers that can be measured to determine exposure.

Benzene itself can be measured in the breath, blood, and urine, and metabolites such as phenol , t , t -muconic acid t , t MA and S-phenylmercapturic acid s PMA can be measured in urine. Required testing includes complete blood count with cell differentials and peripheral blood smear "on a regular basis". Workers are at risk of physical injuries due to the large number of high-powered machines in the relatively close proximity of the oil refinery.

The high pressure required for many of the chemical reactions also presents the possibility of localized system failures resulting in blunt or penetrating trauma from exploding system components.

Heat is also a hazard The temperature required for the proper progression of certain reactions in the refining process can reach degrees F. Noise is another hazard. Refineries can be very loud environments, and have previously been shown to be associated with hearing loss among workers. The theory of hierarchy of controls can be applied to petroleum refineries and their efforts to ensure worker safety.

Elimination and substitution are unlikely in petroleum refineries, as many of the raw materials, waste products, and finished products are hazardous in one form or another e. Administrative controls include careful planning and oversight of the refinery cleaning, maintenance, and turnaround processes.

These occur when many of the engineering controls are shut down or suppressed, and may be especially dangerous to workers. Detailed coordination is necessary to ensure that maintenance of one part of the facility will not cause dangerous exposures to those performing the maintenance, or to workers in other areas of the plant.

Due to the highly flammable nature of many of the involved chemical, smoking areas are tightly controlled and carefully placed. Personal protective equipment may be necessary depending on the specific chemical being processed or produced.

Particular care is needed during sampling of the partially-completed product, tank cleaning, and other high-risk tasks as mentioned above. Such activities may require the use of impervious outer wear, acid hood, disposable coveralls, etc.

Below is a list of the most common regulations referenced in petroleum refinery safety citations issued by OSHA: Corrosion of metallic components is a major factor of inefficiency in the refining process. Because it leads to equipment failure, it is a primary driver for the refinery maintenance schedule.

Corrosion-related direct costs in the U. Corrosion occurs in various forms in the refining process, such as pitting corrosion from water droplets, embrittlement from hydrogen, and stress corrosion cracking from sulfide attack.

Common replacement materials are low alloy steels containing chromium and molybdenum , with stainless steels containing more chromium dealing with more corrosive environments. More expensive materials commonly used are nickel , titanium , and copper alloys. Corrosion is fought by a complex system of monitoring, preventative repairs and careful use of materials.

Monitoring methods include both offline checks taken during maintenance and online monitoring. Offline checks measure corrosion after it has occurred, telling the engineer when equipment must be replaced based on the historical information they have collected. This is referred to as preventative management.

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Given the highly automated and technically advanced nature of modern petroleum refineries, nearly all processes are contained within engineering controls and represent a substantially decreased risk of exposure to workers compared to earlier times. Due to the highly flammable nature of many of the involved chemical, smoking areas are tightly controlled and carefully placed.

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