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SCIENCE

The Contributions of Petroleum and Natural Gas


By ; Amal Sufiah
I am very sure that each and every one of us knew what is petroleum and natural gas.
But little did you know what does petroleum exactly mean? And what is the exact definition
of natural gas? Petroleum is a kind of oil from below the ground. Natural gas is a gas that is
taken from under the ground and used as fuel.
Petroleum is thick, sticky black oil and is also known as crude oil. Petroleum is a
mixture of hydrocarbons of different boiling points. This property enables the hydrocarbons
to be separated by distillation. Fractional distillation is the separation of liquids with different
boiling points through evaporation and condensation. The condensed liquid is called distillate
or petroleum fraction. This process takes place in large fractioning towers in the oil refineries.
Each fraction has its own function. Petroleum gas can be used as cooking gas, petrol as fuel
for vehicles, naphta is used in making of plastics and polyvinyl chloride or PVC, kerosene as
fuel for aircraft, diesel as fuel for lorries and buses, lubricating oil is used as lubricants for
machines, fuel oil for ships and power stations and last, bitumen is used to make tar for roads.
Each distillate differs in colour, viscosity, combustibility, colour of flame and amount of soot
given off when burnt.
Petroleum and natural gas have been exported since 1979 and are an important source
of revenue and foreign exchange for our country. Petroleum and natural gas have contributed
to the development of towns and also provides employment for many Malaysians and
therefore, the rate of unemployment will decrease. These natural resources are very important
in transportation, mining industry, manufacturing industry, agricultural industry,
infrastructure and construction and at the end all these industries contribute to nations
progress.
In order to slow down the rapid depletion of fossil fuels, the remaining fossil fuels
must be used efficiently. This includes the efficient transmission and distribution of
electricity. Using lighter vehicles which burns petrol or diesel efficiently also helps. Next, we
have to reduce exhaust gas emissions from vehicles and also use energy-efficient engines,
machines and manufacturing processes. Then, we can use natural fuel resources efficiently by
reducing wastage and recycling materials especially in manufacturing processes. Lastly, we
can help the government by reducing wastage of energy by switching off lights and electrical
appliances not in use at homes and offices.
As a conclusion, we have to apply ways in using natural fuel resources efficiently so,
the new generation can use the fuels as we are now. As the saying goes, the Earth does not
belong to us; we belong to the Earth.