Oil is a type of fuel, which means that it is something we use to make energy. We burn oil to heat buildings and to make electricity, and we use it to make petrol and diesel for cars and other vehicles. There are also some rather surprising uses for oil, including chewing gum, lipstick and guitar strings!
But what is oil? How is it made? And does it really come from dead dinosaurs?
Oil is made from plankton, which are tiny animals and plants that float about in the sea. Plankton are very important because they are a source of food for lots of other sea creatures, like fish and whales.
When plankton die, they sink down to the sea bed (the bottom of the sea) and get trapped in the sand and mud. As time goes by, these dead plankton are buried deeper and deeper under more and more sand and mud. Eventually, over millions of years, because of the heat and pressure from being buried so deep, the mud turns into rock and the plankton turn into oil and natural gas.
Did you know, it would take at least 150 million years to turn the plankton living in the sea today into oil? This means that the oil we use today was made from plankton that lived and died when dinosaurs were alive on Earth. So, although it does not come from dead dinosaurs, the oil we use today is made from creatures that lived at the same time as the dinosaurs.
Oil is a kind of fuel called a ‘fossil fuel‘, which means that it has been made from animals and plants that lived millions of years ago. There are two other types of fossil fuel: coal and natural gas.
The oil is stored in holes in rocks under the Earth’s surface, so how do we get it out? Scientists take measurements to figure out where oil might be stored underground or under the sea. Oil companies can use that information to drill down and let the oil out from the rocks.