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Use the glossary below to look up terms mentioned on this site.
energy, such as solar, wind, or nuclear energy, that can replace or supplement traditional fossil fuel sources, such as coal, oil, and natural gas.
the smallest possible part of an element that still has the chemical properties of the element. It consists of a nucleus (its core), which contains tiny particles called neutrons and protons, and of one or more outer shells containing particles called electrons, which orbit the nucleus and are bound to it by electrical attraction. The number of protons determines the identity of the element.
the diversity of plant and animal species in an environment.
fuel components produced from biomass. Biofuels can be used in either pure form or as a blend with standard automotive fuels. There are two main bio-components for fuels: ethanol and bio-esters. Using biofuels can lower overall carbon dioxide emissions.
plant or animal material, including crop and agricultural waste, wood and wood waste, animal waste, municipal waste, and aquatic plants.
the cutting or pulverizing tool, attached to the lower end of the drill string, which bores holes in underground formations.
a dark, gooey type of oil that can be refined to make petroleum products.
a region that, according to theory, is formed from a dying star. When a star burns through its fuel, the balance between the explosions that push it outward and the gravity that pulls it inward is destroyed. The star collapses in on itself and forms an extremely massive and highly compressed core whose gravitational pull is so strong that even light cannot escape it.
the science or profession of applying chemistry to industrial processes.
a fuel used in diesel and other compression ignition engines. It’s usually a petroleum-based fuel made from more parts crude oil than gasoline, but sometimes it may also contain biodiesel components made from organic material. Diesel is commonly used for heavy-duty engines, including those in buses and trucks.
refining of crude oil into a range of products including fuels, lubricants and petrochemicals.
a subatomic particle with a negative electric charge. Electrons orbit an atom’s nucleus, forming its outer shells.
threatened with extinction.
the ability to do work or the ability to move an object.
a profession devoted to designing, constructing, and operating the structures, machines, and other devices used in industry and everyday life.
a colorless liquid that can be used as a fuel in internal combustion engines. It is a biofuel used as a blending component with gasoline.
raw material used in the processing or manufacturing industry.
any material that can be burned to make energy.
producing the maximum amount of energy per amount of fuel consumed.
the heavy oils formed through the refining process, used as fuel for power stations, industry, ships, and more.
a complex mixture of hydrocarbons, with or without small quantities of additives, blended to form a fuel suitable for use in spark-ignition engines.
a scientist who specializes in the structure of Earth, and in the history of its physical, chemical, and biological changes.
a person who specializes in the branch of geology that deals with the physics of Earth and its atmosphere, including oceanography, seismology, volcanology, and geomagnetism.
the study of geology and oceanography.
waste gases given off by industrial and power plants, automobiles, and processes that trap the heat of the sun in Earth’s atmosphere, producing the greenhouse effect. The major greenhouse gases are water vapor and carbon dioxide. Lesser greenhouse gases include methane, ozone, chlorofluorocarbons, and nitrogen oxides.
a gaseous element present in the sun's atmosphere and in natural gas, that is used as a substitute for flammable gases in balloons.
any class of compounds containing only hydrogen and carbon. Crude oil is primarily a mixture of hydrocarbon compounds. Fuels made from hydrocarbons, such as natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, coal gas, and refinery gas, can be distributed by pipeline.
hydroelectric power plant
a power plant that uses the force of moving water running through a turbine generator to produce electricity.
a clear, odorless, highly flammable gaseous element. Hydrogen is the lightest atom in nature and occurs mainly in combination with oxygen to form water. It can also be found in petroleum and other hydrocarbon solutions, acids, bases, and alcohols. It can be used to generate sustainable, emission-free energy through fuel cells.
energy created by moving water.
the name that historians give to the period of massive changes in economic and social organization that began about 1760 in England and later in other countries. It is mainly characterized by the replacement of hand tools with power-driven machines, such as the power loom and the steam engine, that enabled things which once had to be made slowly by hand, to be made quickly and cheaply in factories
energy associated with motion.
a record of activity, or the results of plans or surveys. Drilling a well involves keeping a number of different logs, such as downhole density logs, mud logs, driller’s logs, and so on.
the branch of engineering dealing with the design and production of machinery.
the central hole where many well holes stretch out like branches on a tree.
mud (also called drilling mud)
a fluid used to cool drill bits and help prevent natural gas and oil from escaping from boreholes.
several well holes, stretching out from a central hole called the mother bore. Such “branches” can reach smaller pockets of oil or gas buried within the rock.
fuels that cannot be easily made or "renewed." Oil, natural gas, and coal are nonrenewable fuels.
a black, liquid fossil fuel, found deep underground, which is the raw material used to make petroleum products. Gasoline and most plastics are made from oil.
a structure containing the equipment needed for drilling oil.
a chemical substance produced from petroleum or natural gas, such as gasoline, kerosene, or petroleum.
crude oil or the refined products obtained from the processing of crude oil (gasoline, diesel fuel, heating oil, and so on).
a particle of light that acts as an individual unit of energy.
photovoltaic (or solar cell)
a device that converts some of the energy from light (radiant energy) into electrical energy.
the rate at which energy is transferred. Electrical energy is usually measured in watts, a unit also used as a measurement of capacity.
process operators / technicians
people who play key roles at refineries, chemical plants, offshore platforms, production wells, and pipelines. With their knowledge of the machinery and processes involved in gathering and refining oil and natural gas, process technicians keep facilities operating smoothly.
a colorless gas that is extracted from natural gas or refinery gas streams.
proven oil reserves
proven reserves represent the certainty that an oil reserve exists based on geologic and engineering data from the site.
an industrial plant that heats crude oil (petroleum) to separate it into chemical components, which are made into more useful substances.
energy resources that Can be easily “renewed” or made. Forms of renewable energy include solar, wind, biomass, hydroelectricity, and geothermal energy.
the machine used to drill a wellbore. In onshore operations, the rig includes virtually everything except living quarters. Major components of the rig include the mud tanks, the mud pumps, the derrick or mast, the drawworks, the rotary table or topdrive, the drillstring, the power generation equipment, and the auxiliary equipment. Offshore, the rig includes the same components as onshore, but not those of the vessel or drilling platform itself. The rig is sometimes referred to as the drilling package, particularly when offshore.
an efficient way of drilling that uses a quickly rotating bit to cut through rock. Because the bit rotates continuously, cuttings are constantly swept away, while fluid circulates through the bit and up the wellbore.
a method of finding oil and natural gas by measuring the time it takes acoustic shock waves to travel through layers of Earth, reflect off of oil deposits, and return to the sender. The longer it takes the waves to travel to the oil reservoir and back, the farther down it must be.
substances, such as silicon or germanium, that conduct electricity at a lower rate than metals, but at a higher rate than insulators. These substances are the basic components of various kinds of electronic circuits.
energy, radiated by the sun, which can be converted into other forms of energy, such as heat or electricity.
banks of solar cells that draw heat from the sun.
exploration for and extraction of oil and natural gas, and the built and operation of the infrastructure necessary to deliver these hydrocarbons to the market.
theaters that project subsurface data in 3-D.
energy, created by using the natural movement of air in the atmosphere to turn turbines that generate electricity.
machines that have a rotor, usually with vanes or blades, driven by the wind.