Oil and natural gas are naturally occurring chemicals that are made up of just two elements — carbon and hydrogen. The class of chemicals based on carbon and hydrogen are called hydrocarbons.
The simplest hydrocarbon, methane, is made up of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. Other hydrocarbons like octane and octadecane have more complicated structures.
Plastics are made of molecules called polymers that are very long chains of hydrocarbons.
How Are Hydrocarbons Formed?
All of the oil and gas we use today began as microscopic plants and animals living in the ocean millions of years ago.
As these microscopic plants and animals lived, they absorbed energy from the sun, which was stored as carbon molecules in their bodies.
When they died, they sank to the bottom of the sea. Over millions of years, layer after layer of sediment and other plants and bacteria were formed.
As they became buried ever deeper, heat and pressure began to rise.
The amount of pressure and the degree of heat, along with the type of biomass, determined if the material became oil or natural gas.
More heat produced lighter oil.
Even higher heat or biomass made predominantly of plant material produced natural gas.
After oil and natural gas were formed, they tended to migrate through tiny pores in the surrounding rock.
Some hydrocarbon migrated all the way to the surface and escaped. Other deposits migrated until they were caught under impermeable layers of rock or clay where they were trapped.
These trapped deposits are where we find oil and natural gas resources today.
Is oil and natural gas the same thing?
Oil and natural gas resources are both fossil fuels.
However, natural gas is also made up of a mixture of different hydrocarbons, such as gasses like ethane, propane, butane and pentane.
What are these resources used for?
Oil and gas are used widely in modern life, thanks to upstream industry.
Oil fuels the cars, trucks and planes that underpin modern economies and lifestyles.
By-products from oil refining are used in the production of plastics and chemicals, as well as many lubricants, waxes, tars and asphalts.
Why is natural gas cheaper?
In freezing temperatures, heating oil will gel. Therefore, additives are necessary to keep your furnace functioning correctly.
When it comes to the cost of fuel, gas is cheaper than oil.
Oil prices seem more volatile and subject to demand and supply, natural gas comes with a more stable supply and demand
Which is better natural gas or oil?
Natural gas is cheaper, this is true. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average consumer pays more in a year for oil than gas.
However, many people consider switching out a fully functioning oil furnace to gas, just to save money on their yearly heating costs.