From the Depths of the Earth: How Fossil Fuels Are Formed and Extracted

fossil fuelFossil fuels are among the most important sources of energy. These hydrocarbons acquired from the organic remains and sediments of ancient organisms are what supply power to some of the world’s biggest industries.

The process of sourcing these compounds from sedimentary rocks and deep wells is difficult. Before, people had to find fossil fuel reserves manually. It took a lot of guesswork before they started digging. But, mining companies today have developed technologies that will make the work faster and safer.

Below are some bits of information that will help you understand the processes involved in the formation and extraction of fossil fuels:

The Formation of Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuels require a long, long time to form. Oil and gas, for instance, start to accumulate when organisms, whether marine-based or not, die underwater. Since the ocean floor is stagnant and oxygen, which is important in breaking down the dead matter, is absent, the sediments will pile up. The accumulation of these materials will cause heat and pressure. The combination of these natural actions leads to the formation of oil and gas.

The formation of coal requires plants, which capture and store the energy of the sun, and other members of the food chain or web. Once these organisms die, their decomposing bodies will be covered by water and soil. After millions of years, the heat and the pressure will convert the organic matter into hydrocarbons.

How They are Extracted

Miners utilize sounds to find reserves of oil, coal and natural gases; they create explosions underground. The vibrations created by these blasts will help miners identify the type of material that the sounds reflect from. If the layer hit by explosion sounds like it contains something, the miners will set drills, facilities and pipelines. Facilities usually have cathodic protection to prevent corrosion from eating away at the foundations.

Technically, fossil fuels are renewable sources of energy. But, the process of forming them takes millions of years. Realizing this, it’s important that we find alternative sources of energy before fossil fuels disappear. At present, people have already developed technologies that will utilize the energy from the wind, sun and underground heat.