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history of oil

Ever since oil prices started plummeting last year, fleet owners have been enjoying the money that they save on their daily operations. But have you ever wondered how exactly our society started using oil to fuel fleet cars and trucks? Oil discovery goes back further than you may think:

The earliest known oil wells were drilled in China around 350 AD and by burning the oil, the Chinese could produce salt. By the 10th century, both China and Japan were using bamboo as pipelines to connect oil wells with salt springs. In the 9th century, oil was distilled in Persia to produce kerosene for kerosene lamps and was distilled in Western Europe by the 12th century.

Fast forward…

In the early 19th century, a science professor from Yale University became the first person to fragment petroleum through distillation. Once his method spread, the first oil refinery was built in Russia and the country produced about 90% of the world’s oil. Then, in the late 1800s, Edwin Drake drilled an oil well near Titusville, Pennsylvania. (His well is usually considered the first modern-day oil well.)

Around that same time, there were also several wells in West Virginia that were drilled by engines, a well in Poland that was dug by hand, a well in Romania, and a well in Ontario, Canada. It was Drake’s well, however, that sparked the U.S. petroleum industry. Throughout the next century, oil booms appeared in Ohio, California, Texas, and Oklahoma in addition to Pennsylvania.

The industry continued to grow and today, the U.S. is one of the top three oil-producing countries (in addition to Saudi Arabia and Russia).