Crude oil and gas has been the main source of energy for more than 60 years. The fuels are so important that they’ve held significant influence over politics and economic strategies of nations and caused war and instability in many regions.

Considering the industry is built on simply drilling a hole in the ground and extracting the “black stuff” in reality it’s an amalgamation of politics, economics, science and technology and can prove bewildering not just for the uninitiated.

The use of oil has been traced back to historical and even biblical times. The “modern” day industry really started in 1859 in Pennsylvania when Colonel Edwin Drake struck oil producing 15 barrels-a-day (b/d). Within a year it produced ½ million b/d and after 2 years 3m b/d was coming out of the hills.

In the modern day, the industry is dominated by 8 major companies, a mix of the original “Seven Sisters” and the “Supermajors”

  • Exxon (a merger of Mobil and Exxon)
  • Chevron (a Texaco, Chevron, Gulf Oil merger)
  • BP
  • Royal Dutch Shell
  • Conoco Phillips
  • Total
  • Statoil
  • ENI

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