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Oil is called "black gold", "blood of the earth", "the lifeblood of modern civilization". One of the old names for petroleum is "mountain oil". In Russian the word neft appeared in the 17th century, from the Arabic nafata, which means "to erupt".
Oil is used to produce gasoline, kerosene, jet and diesel fuel, fuel oil, tar, various petroleum oils such as lubricants, and intermediate products for the petrochemical industry.
On January 2, 1703, the Vedomosti newspaper reported that oil had been discovered in Russia. However, throughout the 18th century oil field development remained unprofitable because of the products very limited field of application. After territorial acquisitions in the Baku region in the early 19th century the Caucasus became Russias primary oil-producing region. In 1853 the kerosene lamp was invented, leading a huge rise in the demand for oil.
The first refinery was built in Russia in 1745 on the Ukhtinskoye oil field. Back then, people in Petersburg and Moscow used candles, while in smaller towns kindling wood was burned for light. Only the churches already had oil lamps, and these burned oil which was nothing more than a mixture of refined petroleum and vegetable oil.
Oil is a flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons. Naturally-occurring oil can be of various colors: black, brown, cherry, green, amber or yellow. Its smell can also vary widely - from fragrant to an unpleasant sulphurous odor.
For a long time no one had the idea of drilling the earth's surface to produce oil. In 1857 this idea occurred to American Edwin Drake. The sides of the first well that he drilled collapsed. This gave Drake the idea of putting a cast iron pipe into the hole to support the sides of the well. All oil wells have been similarly equipped ever since.
There are two scientific theories of petroleum origin: biogenic and abiogenic. The first theory suggests that oil was formed from ancient biomass, primarily plankton. The other theory, championed by Dmitry Mendeleev, propounds that petroleum is formed of deep fluids liquid and gaseous components of magma or gas-saturated solutions circulating in the subsoil.
Petroleum has been known to humans since ancient times. Archaeological diggings on the bank of the Euphrates river established that petroleum was extracted there 6000-4000 years BC. Back then it was used as fuel, and oil bitumen was used in building and road construction. In ancient Egypt petroleum was used for embalming the deceased.
When oil was first discovered in the USA, it took people a while to benefit from its energy potential. Instead, oil was bottled, labeled and sold as medicine. Several hundred thousands of such bottles were sold and, probably, consumed.
The Native Americans of the Seneca tribe collected oil from the surface of lakes and springs by spreading blankets over the water, then wringing them out over a bucket.
One of the earliest theories of the origin of petroleum suggested that this black substance was nothing other than whale excreta settling on the sea bed, then migrating to subsoil via subsurface channels.


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