The Oil Production Business, Explained

Published January 15, 2015
Updated February 15, 2018

Considering that you use it every day, understanding the oil production business is kind of a must.

When most people think about the oil industry, what comes to mind is usually a cross between Captain Planet villains pouring smoke into the air and Dick Cheney’s golf buddies gloating over human misfortune. That picture isn’t 100-percent wrong, but the industry is more complicated than that.

One way to think of oil companies is as managers of the commons. There’s only so much oil, after all, and it’s only going to last so long before we can’t extract any more of it. In the meantime, the main function of petroleum extraction is to keep the supply level and predictable. Considering how every industry on Earth, from transportation and logistics to the production and distribution novelty doggie-doo, critically depends on oil, it’s worth understanding the process better from extraction to consumption:

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The Oil Production Business, Explained
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Richard Stockton
Richard Stockton is a freelance science and technology writer from Sacramento, California.