Of the numerous forms of energy, crude oil and natural gas combined comfortably constitute more than half of the total primary energy consumed in 2014. Due to its high energy density, easy transportability and relative abundance, crude oil has become the world's most important source of energy since the mid-1950s. Interestingly, oil finds a mention more than 4000 years ago; according to Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus there were oil pits near Babylon. However, oil was first used commercially in the 1850s when Ignacy Łukasiewicz discovered the process to distill kerosene from seep oil (petroleum seeps) that provided a cheaper alternative to whale oil. The demand for the petroleum as a fuel then quickly grew; leading to the world's first commercial oil well in Poland in 1854, constructed by Łukasiewicz. Interestingly, Lukasiewicz is also credited with the invention of the kerosene lamp (1853) and the introduction of the first street lamps in Europe (1853).
Natural gas, a combustible mixture of hydrocarbon gases is largely known for its clean and safe source of energy. As early as about 500 BC, the Chinese discovered the potential of natural gas seeping through the earth’s surface. They used it to boil sea water, separating the salt and making it drinkable. Around 1785, Britain became the first country to commercialize the use of natural gas; natural gas produced from coal was used to light houses as well as streetlights.
“Energy is Eternal Delight”
- William Blake