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What Do We Use Oil For?

Batul Nafisa Baxamusa Oct 28, 2018
This post sheds some light on the various uses of oil, which will highlight man's ever-increasing dependence on it.
Can you Imagine what will happen if one day the entire world runs out of oil? Yes, you guessed right, our daily life will come to a complete halt. That is how much we rely on oil in our day-to-day lives. Right from transport and electricity to many small things in our homes, all contain oil or some or the other compounds of it.
Did you know that about 12% of the global oil production is carried out in the United States of America? The U.S. accounts for around 23% of global oil consumption, and to fulfill the demand, America needs to buy oil from other oil-producing nations.
Having said that, do you really know why is oil essential to us? We all know that oil is used for cars, trucks, other automobiles, etc., but apart from these, it holds many other uses too.

Why Do We Need Oil?

In the U.S., two-thirds of oil is used for transportation. It is also used to produce products that are used by the industry and for household purposes. It is used for making oil-based lubricants that are used in industries. Oil is also used to produce electricity. In some regions, it is used to heat homes and residential areas during cold climates.


The most common thing in our lives is plastic. Without plastic we probably won't survive. Right from the mobile phone in your hand to the plastic jacket you use to cover yourself from the maddening rain, is plastic.

Commercial Products

Just a simple example, the toothpaste you use daily is made up of a type of petroleum compound. Even your shampoo, soap, shaving cream, perfumes, nail polish etc., have some or the other type of petroleum compounds like crude oil or natural gas in it.


We also need oil to make medications that help save lives. We use oil in production of fertilizers, pesticides, etc. All these commodities are transported thousands of miles through trucks, ships, etc. These modes of transportation work on oil.

Other Uses

Other uses of oil includes, use as fuel in form of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), gasoline (petrol), diesel fuel, kerosene, jet fuel, and fuel oils. It is used as lubricants for motor oils, greases, machine oils, etc. Bulk tar, asphalt, paraffin wax, petroleum coke, aromatic petrochemicals, etc. are also products made from oil.

History of Oil Consumption

Oil products have been used by man since the ancient times. But as man followed a simple lifestyle, the use of oil was also limited. Asphalt was used over 4,000 years ago for construction of walls and towers in the city of Babylon. The Persians used oil in medicines as well as for lighting purposes. It was also used as a waterproofing material for ships.
Ignacy Lukasiewicz invented kerosene by the distillation of petroleum in the 1850s. It was henceforth used as a substitute for whale oil. The uses of oil became more and more widespread with the invention of internal combustion engine, plastic, and commercial aviation.
Today, the oil consumption in U.S. by sector is as follows:
  • Transportation: 71%
  • Industrial: 23%
  • Residential and Commercial: 5%
  • Electric power: 1%
With the advancement in technology, there is a significant increase in the consumption of oil. However, scientists are working towards finding viable and widely available alternatives.