Most people barely ever take the time to think about oil, and when they do, they just see it as a basic product used to produce energy. The reality is that oil is used in thousands of applications every day. Here are some surprising facts about where oil comes from and how it is used.

Oil Refineries Helped Halt the Whaling Industry

For decades, the most common source of lighting in holes was whale oil lamps. The ability to drill for oil and refine it into kerosene was a heavy blow to the whaling trade. This eventually ended up saving the lives of hundreds of whales.

People Initially Just Collected Oil From Random Spots

Before oil drilling became possible in the mid 1800s, it was a rare material. There were some spots where crude oil would randomly seep up to the surface and collect in pools, so the only way to get oil was finding one of these spots and hauling oil up in buckets. In these naturally occurring oil pits, the oil would often mix with sand and water, making it very hard to collect.

Oil Comes From Surprising Sources

Oil is found all over the world. The top nine countries producing oil in modern times are Brazil, Canada, China, Irana, Iraq, Russia, Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates, and the United States. In the US alone, the biggest producers of oil are Alaska, California, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming.

Not All Oil Is Used for Fuel

The most publicly recognized use for oil is refining it into fuels like gasoline or kerosene. However, only 50 percent of all crude oil is turned into fuel. Other ingredients in the base petroleum can be used to make fabric, bandages, soaps, detergents, and inks.

The U.S. Is Expanding Refineries at a Rapid Rate

When people first developed the process of refining oil, many refineries were constructed. However, there was a lull in oil refining in the 80s and 90s that is only just ending now. In the past five years alone, there have been as many new oil refineries built as there were constructed between 1980 and 1998.