From Dinos to the Pumps: Where Does Oil Come From? A Guide for the Average Joe

Crude oil comes from dinosaurs, right? That means your toy dinosaurs are actually made of dinosaurs! Well, hold your horses (or dinosaurs!) because this isn’t exactly true.

Oil production is a bit more complicated than your elementary teacher might have had you believe. It’s not just a bunch of decomposing dinosaurs caught in the tar pits.

Why is it important to know the answer to “where does your oil come from”? It will help you understand your news sources. You will be able to evaluate news about oil critically.

Let’s drill down and pump up some oil facts for you. Keep digging.

1. Where Does Oil Come From?

The accepted model claims that organic matter deposited about 100-400 million years ago under anoxic conditions. These are conditions depleted of oxygen. We see this happen in groundwater today.

The organic matter was likely small marine organisms which populated oceans in abundance and even exist today. They settled to the depths of the oceans at the time and didn’t decompose right away due to lack of oxygen.

More layers of organic matter and silt meant pressure. Over time the pressure increased. Geothermal temperatures rise cooking the organic matter.

This process formed kerogen which eventually turned into oil. Metagenesis also forms dry gas and high-temp methane (natural gasses).

Thus, branding like Sinclair’s cannot be trusted to tell the story of oil. No, your toy dinosaur isn’t made of dinosaur but rather plankton and prehistoric shrimp.

2. Where Do We Find Oil Today?

If you want to find oil, you’re going to need more than a spade. You first and foremost need a geologist. Their job is to find the right conditions for an oil trap.

This means finding the right source rock, entrapment, or reservoir rock. Before technology advanced enough to see below the surface, geologists would rely on surface interpretations. Now they can use everything from satellites to gravity meters to find oil.

They even employ sensitive equipment that can sniff out hydrocarbons. These are called “sniffers.”

3. What Happens When They Find Oil?

The first step is to hire a landman. He will help you with your legal issues, figure out of you can secure rights, and be a general middleman between your business and the stakeholders.

Then you will clear your land, level it, and build access roads. You will need a source of water. Water is extremely essential for drilling as it cools equipment and cleans it.

You’ll hire a crew to dig your reserve pit. This will hold the rock cutting and drilled up mud and dirt during the drilling process. You’ll want to protect the environment by lining the pit with plastic.

You may need permits to drill in various locations if they’re ecologically sensitive.

Oil Drilling is Becoming More Efficient

Where does oil come from? Now you know the answer.

Despite all the negative press surrounding oil, our production processes are becoming more efficient and environmentally friendly. Oil is still a great investment and you could make a decent amount when investing.

For more business news, check out our expert business section.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.