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Petroleum is a brownish-black oily fluid that can be found in the ground and in the sea. In its unprocessed form, it is known as crude oil. There are many petroleum products that are essential for our everyday life. Fuels, like petrol for motor vehicles and kerosene for heaters, plastic, asphalt and wax for candles are all obtained from petroleum. The four main producers of crude oil in the world today are the Middle East, Russia, the United States and Venezuela.

Petroleum was formed under the ground many millions of years ago. Plants and animals living in the sea sank to the sea bed when they died. Their remains, mixed with sand and mud in layered deposits, built up slowly over the years. The combined action of heat, pressure and bacteria turned these deposits into petroleum. The petroleum moved slowly upwards to the porous rocks and became trapped there. With the passage of time, land that was once under water rose to the surface of the sea. As such, petroleum deposits are now found on or near dry land.

Crude oil is obtained from the ground through drilling. A drill is hung from a derrick which may be as high as 60 meters. A derrick is a tower-like structure which is built over an oil well to raise and lower the drill. If the drill reaches oil-bearing rocks, the oil may rush to the surface at great force and gush like a fountain. However, this seldom happens. Usually the oil rises to the surface slowly. Sometimes, when there is no or low underground pressure, the crude oil has to be pumped out.

Once the rude oil is obtained, it is sent to a refinery to be processed. Pipelines carry the oil from the oil fields to the collecting stations. Then, huge oil tankers are used to carry the crude oil by sea to the refineries.

At the refinery, the crude oil undergoes a basic refinery process called distillation, which separates it into fractions or components. Crude oil is heated to various high temperatures during distillation. The hot vapors rise up the fractionating tower which is more than 30 meters high. As these vapors cool, different fractions begin to condense and form lubricating oils, kerosene and gasoline. Selected petroleum fractions may be subjected to chemical processes to obtain other products.

From paragraph 1 :
  1.

(a) Name some petroleum products.

(b) In this paragraph, explain the meaning of 'crude'.

(c) Who are the largest producers of petroleum in the world ?

   

From paragraph 2 :

  2.

(a) How is petroleum formed ?

(b) Which word in this paragraph means 'changed' ?

(c) Which word in this paragraph has the same meaning as the phrase 'moved slowly upwards' ?

   

From paragraph 3 :

  3.

(a) What is a derrick ?

(b) What does the word 'this' refer to ?

(c) What could happen if oil rushes out to the surface at a great force ?

(d) When is crude oil pumped out ?

   

From paragraph 4 :

  4.

How is crude oil transported to the collecting stations ?

   

From paragraph 5 :

  5.

(a) What happens to crude oil during distillation ?

(b) Describe the distillation process.

(c) Give another word which has the same meaning as the word 'selected'.

(d) What does the word 'basic' in the phrase 'basic refinery process' mean ?

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Answers
  1.

(a) Some petroleum products are kerosene, plastic, asphalt, petrol and wax for candles.

(b) It means 'unrefined' or 'in its natural state'.

(c) The largest producers of petroleum in the world are the Middle East, Russia, the United States and Venezuela.

  2.

(a) Petroleum is formed when a combination of heat, pressure and bacteria act on the deposits of remains of marine life, mud and sand over a long period of time.

(b) The word is 'turned'.

(c) The word is 'rose'.

  3.

(a) It is a tower-like structure built over an oil well to raise and lower a drill.

(b) It refers to the oil rushing to the surface and gushing out.

(c) It would gush like a fountain.

(d) It is pumped out when the underground pressure is low or non-existent.

  4.

It is transported through pipelines.

  5.

(a) During distillation, crude oil is separated into fractions.

(b) Crude oil is heated to high temperature during distillation. As the heated vapor cools along the fractionating tower, different fractions condense and form the various petroleum products such as lubricating oils, kerosene and gasoline.

(c) The word is 'certain' or 'specific'.

(d) It means 'the preliminary stage'.

 
 

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Comprehension 1

 
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