Black Gold & Rock Oil


Why is oil so precious? Why are we so dependent on it? And is there a way out of this dependency?

Since ancient times, oil has been valuable in some form or another. Circa 4,000 BC, in a region known today as Iraq, archeological evidence proves a site of an oil seep known locally as the “fountains of pitch”. Ancient Persian tablets indicate the medicinal and lighting uses of petroleum in the upper levels of their society. By 347 AD, oil was produced from bamboo-drilled wells in China.

Did you know? The term “petroleum” comes from “petros” (Greek for stone or rock) and “oleum” (Latin for oil). An ancient term for petroleum is “rock oil.”

Listening to the Hear&Now podcast about the oil industry sparked some questions: firstly, why is Singapore an oil & gas hub without producing any oil of its own? Why the big fuss about Malaysia running out of oil in about 30 years?

Towering oil refineries abound worldwide – all to fill the need for oil & more oil

With regard to Singapore as an oil & gas hub, a simple answer is that they have the infrastructure in place to trade oil on a massive scale. After all, when trading billions of dollars of oil, you don’t need to be near the physical goods. Singapore’s financial infrastructure and regulations make it easy for foreign firms to enter and exit the market.

How can Malaysia compete against a nation known for its almost ruthless efficiency in business? By proving competency, according to Dato’ Seri Shahril Shamsuddin, CEO of SapuraKencana.

Create the pull, basically.

With regard to Malaysian oil running out in 30 years, at least we have a time frame to work with. 30 years is a long time – long enough for us to successfully plan, execute and implement a system that is not dependent on oil. Does this mean that we should move towards green energy? Perhaps.

But why is it that, when the world is aware of the downsides of its dependency on oil and the fact that oil IS running out, we are not moving fast enough towards an oil-independent way of life?

Why are we so addicted to oil?

Do we need a crisis severe enough to snap us out of this dependency?

Just as man innovates better and adapts quicker under pressure (such as during times of war and strife), perhaps the same needs to happen in the oil and gas industry to get us to really push for alternative energy and remove our dependency on oil.

Photo credit: Flickr users Neimon and Eric Nelson.

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