The Beginnings of the Oil Industry

In the fourth century A.D., China began as the first country to drill oil. They developed a simple method to extract the oil from the ground. This method include using bamboo poles for drilling. They extracted the dark sticky material, then used it as their primary source of fuel.

Centuries later, you could find oil and places all over Europe and Asia occasionally, you could find natural pools of oil accumulating above the ground. The settlers of the time, as well as travelers, use the sticky black liquid for fuel and for medicinal purposes.

In the mid-19th century, what we know as the modern oil industry started. In fact, Col. Edwin Drake, on August 27, 1859, made the discovery of the first underground oil reserve in the United States in Pennsylvania. This reservoir was discovered after every drilling 69 feet deep. That oil was easy flowing and easy to work with, as well as distill. The type of oil that he found is known as paraffin oil. This post is brought to you by our sponsors at

Drake was working for the Pennsylvania rock oil company, a company that was interested in using the oil for their streetlamps. Initially, Drake’s well was producing 30 barrels of oil a day, with one barrel equaling 42 US gallons. The success of his reservoir started what has become the modern oil industry.

Shortly after Drake’s discovery, the scientific community became very interested in oil and began giving it more attention. After much research, they began creating many products derived from crude oil. One of the first products they developed was kerosene that was used for heating.

Other products began to be developed and put on the market, such as diesel and gasoline to run engines. Once automobiles began being mass produced, in 1980, the demand for gasoline skyrocketed, thus pushing companies to begin finding more oilfields.

From its simple beginnings, oil has changed our country and the world.