Saturday, May 19, 2007

Sugar Plum Petroleum For...

Plastics & medicines. Surprised? The song goes:
Black and viscous - bound to cure blue lethargy
Sugar-plum petroleum for energy
Tightrope-balanced payments need a small reprieve
Oh, please believe we want to be
in North Sea Oil
New-found wealth sits on the shelf of yesterday
Hot-air balloon - inflation soon will make you pay
Riggers rig and diggers dig their shallow grave
but we'll be saved and what we crave
is North Sea Oil
Prices boom in Aberdeen and London Town
Ten more years to lay the fears, erase the frown
before we are all nuclear - the better way!
Oh, let us pray: we want to stay
in North Sea Oil
Source: Lyris of Jethro Tull's North Sea Oil from the Stormwatch Album
The songs sings of energy and that is what most people think when they hear the word petroleum. However, another very important part of petroleum is for the chemicals we derive from it. Many plastics are petroleum based that is why when I am green minded I get the paper bags not the plastic bags from the store. To replace a tree is lot quicker work than replacing the petroleum used to make the plastic bag (plus the fact paper degrades a lot more quickly).

What I wonder is, if we get off of gasoline as a primary means of fueling consumer level locomotion, will refiners be able to redirect their processes to refining other chemicals? That is, can a refiner alter their process to turn what is now gasoline into other products? I suspect they are unable but I do not know (and I do not have time to google it). In any event, the petroleum dependence is not over with new sources of consumer locomotive energy.

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