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Petroleum Age: 150 yrs and counting

Petroleum Age: 150 yrs and counting
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First Published: Wed, Sep 02 2009. 09 01 PM IST
Updated: Wed, Sep 02 2009. 09 01 PM IST
Pennsylvania: One hundred and fifty years ago this week in a small Pennsylvania town an indefatigable businessman struck oil, changing the world forever.
Boring a pipe deep into the Titusville ground, Edwin Drake drew black crude to the surface, in a process that would be copied all over the world and mark the dawn of the Petroleum Age.
The method, inspired by salt extraction, would eventually create an industry that fuelled dramatic leaps in human development, as well as wars and environmental degradation.
But the technique’s importance was initially felt in the lighting industry, as a replacement for whale and other fats used in lanterns.
But 150 years on, questions loom over the future of the fuel as oil prices spiked to record highs of over $140 (Rs6,874 today) a barrel last year.
The methods pioneered by Drake are now so successful that the world’s largest oil fields in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are beginning to show signs of decline, according to experts.
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First Published: Wed, Sep 02 2009. 09 01 PM IST