Fossil fuel

Since oil fields are located only at certain places on earth, only some countries are oil-independent; the other countries depend on the oil-production capacities of these countries
A petrochemical refinery in Grangemouth, Scotland, UK
An oil well in the Gulf of Mexico
The Global Carbon Project shows how additions to since 1880 have been caused by different sources ramping up one after another.
Global surface temperature reconstruction over the last 2000 years using proxy data from tree rings, corals, and ice cores in blue. Directly observational data is in red, with all data showing a 5 year moving average.
In 2020, renewables overtook fossil fuels as the European Union's main source of electricity for the first time.

Hydrocarbon-containing material formed naturally in the earth's crust from the remains of dead plants and animals that is extracted and burned as a fuel.

- Fossil fuel
Since oil fields are located only at certain places on earth, only some countries are oil-independent; the other countries depend on the oil-production capacities of these countries

40 related topics

Alpha

Fractional distillation apparatus.

Petroleum

Naturally occurring yellowish-black liquid mixture of mainly hydrocarbons, and is found in geological formations.

Naturally occurring yellowish-black liquid mixture of mainly hydrocarbons, and is found in geological formations.

Fractional distillation apparatus.
Oil derrick in Okemah, Oklahoma, 1922.
Shale bings near Broxburn, 3 of a total of 19 in West Lothian.
This wartime propaganda poster promoted carpooling as a way to ration vital gasoline during World War II.
Unconventional resources are much larger than conventional ones.
Octane, a hydrocarbon found in petroleum. Lines represent single bonds; black spheres represent carbon; white spheres represent hydrogen.
Structure of a vanadium porphyrin compound (left) extracted from petroleum by Alfred E. Treibs, father of organic geochemistry. Treibs noted the close structural similarity of this molecule and chlorophyll a (right).
A hydrocarbon trap consists of a reservoir rock (yellow) where oil (red) can accumulate, and a caprock (green) that prevents it from egressing.
Some marker crudes with their sulfur content (horizontal) and API gravity (vertical) and relative production quantity.
Nominal and inflation-adjusted US dollar price of crude oil, 1861–2015.
Oil consumption per capita (darker colors represent more consumption, gray represents no data) (source: see file description).
Diesel fuel spill on a road.
Seawater acidification.
Global fossil carbon emissions, an indicator of consumption, from 1800. {{legend|black|Total}}{{legend|blue|Oil}}
Rate of world energy usage per year from 1970.<ref name="BP-Report-2012">BP: Statistical Review of World Energy {{webarchive|url=https://web.archive.org/web/20130516003736/http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle800.do?categoryId=9037130&contentId=7068669 |date=May 16, 2013 }}, Workbook (xlsx), London, 2012</ref>
Daily oil consumption from 1980 to 2006.
Oil consumption by percentage of total per region from 1980 to 2006: {{legend|red|US}}{{legend|blue|Europe}}{{legend|#D1D117|Asia and Oceania}}.
Oil consumption 1980 to 2007 by region.

A fossil fuel, petroleum is formed when large quantities of dead organisms, mostly zooplankton and algae, are buried underneath sedimentary rock and subjected to both prolonged heat and pressure.

Natural gas burner on a natural-gas-burning stove

Natural gas

Naturally occurring mixture of gaseous hydrocarbons consisting primarily of methane in addition to various smaller amounts of other higher alkanes.

Naturally occurring mixture of gaseous hydrocarbons consisting primarily of methane in addition to various smaller amounts of other higher alkanes.

Natural gas burner on a natural-gas-burning stove
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Natural gas drilling rig in Texas, USA
Countries by natural gas proven reserves (2014), based on data from The World Factbook
The location of shale gas compared to other types of gas deposits
Natural gas processing plant in Aderklaa, Lower Austria
Schematic flow diagram of a typical natural gas processing plant
Natural gas extraction by countries in cubic meters per year around 2013
Polyethylene plastic main being placed in a trench
Construction close to high pressure gas transmission pipelines is discouraged, often with standing warning signs.
Peoples Gas Manlove Field natural gas storage area in Newcomb Township, Champaign County, Illinois. In the foreground (left) is one of the numerous wells for the underground storage area, with an LNG plant, and above ground storage tanks are in the background (right).
Manhole for domestic gas supply, London, UK
A Washington, D.C. Metrobus, which runs on natural gas
The warming influence (called radiative forcing) of long-lived greenhouse gases has nearly doubled in 40 years, with carbon dioxide and methane being the dominant drivers of global warming.
A pipeline odorant injection station
Gas network emergency vehicle responding to a major fire in Kyiv, Ukraine
Natural gas prices at the Henry Hub in US dollars per million BTUs
Comparison of natural gas prices in Japan, United Kingdom, and United States, 2007–2011
US Natural Gas Marketed Production 1900 to 2012 (US EIA data)
Trends in the top five natural gas-producing countries (US EIA data)

Natural gas is a fossil fuel and non-renewable resource that is formed when layers of organic matter (primarily marine microorganisms ) decompose under anaerobic conditions and are subjected to intense heat and pressure underground over millions of years.

Coal, oil, and natural gas remain the primary global energy sources even as renewables have begun rapidly increasing.

World energy supply and consumption

Global production and preparation of fuel, generation of electricity, energy transport and energy consumption.

Global production and preparation of fuel, generation of electricity, energy transport and energy consumption.

Coal, oil, and natural gas remain the primary global energy sources even as renewables have begun rapidly increasing.
World energy mix, 1965 to 2020
Primary energy sources are transformed by the energy sector to generate energy carriers.

Worldwide carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels was 38 gigatons in 2019.

Average surface air temperatures from 2011 to 2021 compared to the 1956–1976 average

Climate change

Contemporary climate change includes both global warming and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns.

Contemporary climate change includes both global warming and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns.

Average surface air temperatures from 2011 to 2021 compared to the 1956–1976 average
Change in average surface air temperature since the industrial revolution, plus drivers for that change. Human activity has caused increased temperatures, with natural forces adding some variability.
Global surface temperature reconstruction over the last 2000 years using proxy data from tree rings, corals, and ice cores in blue. Directly observed data is in red.
Drivers of climate change from 1850–1900 to 2010–2019. There was no significant contribution from internal variability or solar and volcanic drivers.
concentrations over the last 800,000 years as measured from ice cores (blue/green) and directly (black)
The Global Carbon Project shows how additions to since 1880 have been caused by different sources ramping up one after another.
The rate of global tree cover loss has approximately doubled since 2001, to an annual loss approaching an area the size of Italy.
Sea ice reflects 50% to 70% of incoming solar radiation while the dark ocean surface only reflects 6%, so melting sea ice is a self-reinforcing feedback.
Projected global surface temperature changes relative to 1850–1900, based on CMIP6 multi-model mean changes.
The sixth IPCC Assessment Report projects changes in average soil moisture that can disrupt agriculture and ecosystems. A reduction in soil moisture by one standard deviation means that average soil moisture will approximately match the ninth driest year between 1850 and 1900 at that location.
Historical sea level reconstruction and projections up to 2100 published in 2017 by the U.S. Global Change Research Program
The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (2021) projects that extreme weather will be progressively more common as the Earth warms.
Scenarios of global greenhouse gas emissions. If all countries achieve their current Paris Agreement pledges, average warming by 2100 would still significantly exceed the maximum 2 °C target set by the Agreement.
Coal, oil, and natural gas remain the primary global energy sources even as renewables have begun rapidly increasing.
Economic sectors with more greenhouse gas contributions have a greater stake in climate change policies.
Most emissions have been absorbed by carbon sinks, including plant growth, soil uptake, and ocean uptake (2020 Global Carbon Budget).
Since 2000, rising emissions in China and the rest of world have surpassed the output of the United States and Europe.
Per person, the United States generates at a far faster rate than other primary regions.
Academic studies of scientific consensus reflect that the level of consensus correlates with expertise in climate science.
Data has been cherry picked from short periods to falsely assert that global temperatures are not rising. Blue trendlines show short periods that mask longer-term warming trends (red trendlines). Blue dots show the so-called global warming hiatus.
The 2017 People's Climate March took place in hundreds of locations. Shown: the Washington, D.C. march, protesting policies of then-U.S. President Trump.
Tyndall's ratio spectrophotometer (drawing from 1861) measured how much infrared radiation was absorbed and emitted by various gases filling its central tube.
alt=Underwater photograph of branching coral that is bleached white|Ecological collapse. Bleaching has damaged the Great Barrier Reef and threatens reefs worldwide.<ref>{{Cite web|url=https://sos.noaa.gov/datasets/coral-reef-risk-outlook/|title=Coral Reef Risk Outlook|access-date=4 April 2020|publisher=National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration|quote=At present, local human activities, coupled with past thermal stress, threaten an estimated 75 percent of the world's reefs. By 2030, estimates predict more than 90% of the world's reefs will be threatened by local human activities, warming, and acidification, with nearly 60% facing high, very high, or critical threat levels.}}</ref>
alt=Photograph of evening in a valley settlement. The skyline in the hills beyond is lit up red from the fires.|Extreme weather. Drought and high temperatures worsened the 2020 bushfires in Australia.<ref>{{harvnb|Carbon Brief, 7 January|2020}}.</ref>
alt=The green landscape is interrupted by a huge muddy scar where the ground has subsided.|Arctic warming. Permafrost thaws undermine infrastructure and release methane, a greenhouse gas.
alt=An emaciated polar bear stands atop the remains of a melting ice floe.|Habitat destruction. Many arctic animals rely on sea ice, which has been disappearing in a warming Arctic.<ref>{{harvnb|IPCC AR5 WG2 Ch28|2014|p=1596|ps=: "Within 50 to 70 years, loss of hunting habitats may lead to elimination of polar bears from seasonally ice-covered areas, where two-thirds of their world population currently live."}}</ref>
alt=Photograph of a large area of forest. The green trees are interspersed with large patches of damaged or dead trees turning purple-brown and light red.|Pest propagation. Mild winters allow more pine beetles to survive to kill large swaths of forest.<ref>{{Cite web|url=https://www.nps.gov/romo/learn/nature/climatechange.htm|title=What a changing climate means for Rocky Mountain National Park|publisher=National Park Service|access-date=9 April 2020}}</ref>
Environmental migration. Sparser rainfall leads to desertification that harms agriculture and can displace populations. Shown: Telly, Mali (2008).<ref>{{harvnb|Serdeczny|Adams|Baarsch|Coumou|2016}}.</ref>
Agricultural changes. Droughts, rising temperatures, and extreme weather negatively impact agriculture. Shown: Texas, US (2013).<ref>{{harvnb|IPCC SRCCL Ch5|2019|pp=439, 464}}.</ref>
Tidal flooding. Sea-level rise increases flooding in low-lying coastal regions. Shown: Venice, Italy (2004).<ref name="NOAAnuisance">{{cite web|url=http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/nuisance-flooding.html |title=What is nuisance flooding? |author=National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration |access-date=April 8, 2020}}</ref>
Storm intensification. Bangladesh after Cyclone Sidr (2007) is an example of catastrophic flooding from increased rainfall.<ref>{{harvnb|Kabir|Khan|Ball|Caldwell|2016}}.</ref>
Heat wave intensification. Events like the June 2019 European heat wave are becoming more common.<ref>{{harvnb|Van Oldenborgh|Philip|Kew|Vautard|2019}}.</ref>

Burning fossil fuels for energy use creates most of these emissions.

Investment: Companies, governments and households invested $501.3 billion in decarbonization in 2020, including renewable energy (solar, wind), electric vehicles and associated charging infrastructure, energy storage, energy-efficient heating systems, carbon capture and storage, and hydrogen.

Fossil fuel phase-out

Investment: Companies, governments and households invested $501.3 billion in decarbonization in 2020, including renewable energy (solar, wind), electric vehicles and associated charging infrastructure, energy storage, energy-efficient heating systems, carbon capture and storage, and hydrogen.
Cost: With increasingly widespread implementation of renewable energy sources, costs have declined, most notably for energy generated by solar panels. 
Levelized cost of energy (LCOE) is a measure of the average net present cost of electricity generation for a generating plant over its lifetime.
Coal-fired power plants provided 30% of consumed electricity in the United States in 2016. This is the Castle Gate Plant near Helper, Utah.
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill discharges 4.9 e6oilbbl
Natural gas well in Germany
The countries most reliant on fossil fuels for electricity vary widely on how great a percentage of that electricity is generated from renewables, leaving wide variation in renewables' growth potential.
In 2020, renewables overtook fossil fuels as the European Union's main source of electricity for the first time.
Chief Joseph Dam near Bridgeport, Washington, US, is a major run-of-the-river station without a sizeable reservoir.
The 71.8 MW Lieberose Photovoltaic Park in Germany
The 150 MW Andasol solar power station is a commercial parabolic trough solar thermal power plant, located in Spain. The Andasol plant uses tanks of molten salt to store solar energy so that it can continue generating electricity even when the sun isn't shining.
Costs of producing renewable energy have declined significantly, with 62% of total renewable power generation added in 2020 having lower costs than the cheapest new fossil fuel option.
Protest at the Legislative Building in Olympia, Washington. Ted Nation, a long-time environmental activist beside protest sign.

Fossil fuel phase-out is the gradual reduction of the use and production of fossil fuels to zero.

World consumption of primary energy by energy type.

Environmental impact of the energy industry

Significant, as energy and natural resource consumption are closely related.

Significant, as energy and natural resource consumption are closely related.

World consumption of primary energy by energy type.
Energy consumption per capita per country (2001). Red hues indicate increase, green hues decrease of consumption during the 1990s.
Global average surface temperature datasets from various scientific organizations show the progress and extent of global warming.
The warming influence (called radiative forcing) of long-lived greenhouse gases has nearly doubled in 40 years, with carbon dioxide and methane being the dominant drivers of global warming.
Global fossil carbon emission by fuel type, 1800–2007 AD.
Nuclear power activities involving the environment; mining, enrichment, generation and geological disposal.
Livestock grazing near a wind turbine.

The scientific consensus on global warming and climate change is that it is caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, the majority of which comes from burning fossil fuels with deforestation and some agricultural practices being also major contributors.

Estimated change in seawater pH caused by human-created carbon dioxide between the 1700s and the 1990s, from the Global Ocean Data Analysis Project (GLODAP) and the World Ocean Atlas

Ocean acidification

Ongoing decrease in the pH value of the Earth's oceans, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Ongoing decrease in the pH value of the Earth's oceans, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Estimated change in seawater pH caused by human-created carbon dioxide between the 1700s and the 1990s, from the Global Ocean Data Analysis Project (GLODAP) and the World Ocean Atlas
Here is a detailed image of the full carbon cycle
NOAA provides evidence for the upwelling of "acidified" water onto the Continental Shelf. In the figure above, note the vertical sections of (A) temperature, (B) aragonite saturation, (C) pH, (D) DIC, and (E) p on transect line 5 off Pt. St. George, California. The potential density surfaces are superimposed on the temperature section. The 26.2 potential density surface delineates the location of the first instance in which the undersaturated water is upwelled from depths of 150 to 200 m onto the shelf and outcropping at the surface near the coast. The red dots represent sample locations.
Ocean Acidification Infographic
The cycle between the atmosphere and the ocean
Distribution of (A) aragonite and (B) calcite saturation depth in the global oceans
This map shows changes in the aragonite saturation level of ocean surface waters between the 1880s and the most recent decade (2006–2015). Aragonite is a form of calcium carbonate that many marine animals use to build their skeletons and shells. The lower the saturation level, the more difficult it is for organisms to build and maintain their skeletons and shells. A negative change represents a decrease in saturation.
Here is detailed diagram of the carbon cycle within the ocean
Bjerrum plot: Change in carbonate system of seawater from ocean acidification.
Shells of pteropods dissolve in increasingly acidic conditions caused by increased amounts of atmospheric
A normally-protective shell made thin, fragile and transparent by acidification
Drivers of hypoxia and ocean acidification intensification in upwelling shelf systems. Equatorward winds drive the upwelling of low dissolved oxygen (DO), high nutrient, and high dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) water from above the oxygen minimum zone. Cross-shelf gradients in productivity and bottom water residence times drive the strength of DO (DIC) decrease (increase) as water transits across a productive continental shelf.
Demonstrator calling for action against ocean acidification at the People's Climate March (2017).
Ocean acidification: mean seawater pH. Mean seawater pH is shown based on in-situ measurements of pH from the Aloha station.
"Present day" (1990s) sea surface pH
Present day alkalinity
"Present day" (1990s) sea surface anthropogenic {{chem|CO|2}}
Vertical inventory of "present day" (1990s) anthropogenic {{chem|CO|2}}
Change in surface {{chem|CO|3|2-}} ion from the 1700s to the 1990s
Present day DIC
Pre-Industrial DIC
A NOAA (AOML) in situ {{chem|CO|2}} concentration sensor (SAMI-CO2), attached to a Coral Reef Early Warning System station, utilized in conducting ocean acidification studies near coral reef areas
A NOAA (PMEL) moored autonomous {{chem|CO|2}} buoy used for measuring {{chem|CO|2}} concentration and ocean acidification studies

The main cause of ocean acidification is human burning of fossil fuels.

Fossil-fuel subsidies per capita, 2019. Fossil-fuel pre-tax subsidies per capita are measured in constant US dollars.

Fossil fuel subsidies

Fossil-fuel subsidies per capita, 2019. Fossil-fuel pre-tax subsidies per capita are measured in constant US dollars.
Fossil-fuel subsidies as a share of GDP, 2019. Fossil-fuel pre-tax subsidies are given as a share of total gross domestic product.

Fossil fuel subsidies are energy subsidies on fossil fuels.

Coal, oil, and natural gas remain the primary global energy sources even as renewables have begun rapidly increasing.

Energy transition

Ongoing process of replacing fossil fuels with low carbon energy sources.

Ongoing process of replacing fossil fuels with low carbon energy sources.

Coal, oil, and natural gas remain the primary global energy sources even as renewables have begun rapidly increasing.
An example of a long-term historic energy transition: share of primary energy by source in Portugal
Wind Turbine Total Costs
A booth for the Citizens' Climate Lobby, at a rally for science in Minnesota, 2018.
Global energy consumption by source.
Global energy consumption by source (in %).
Austria electricity supply by source
Denmark electricity generation by source
Electricity production in France.
Market share of Germany's power generation 2014
Primary energy mix in the United Kingdom over time, differentiated by energy source (in % of the total energy consumption)
U.S. energy consumption by source.
Timeline of commissioned and decommissioned nuclear capacity since the 1950s. Positive numbers show the commissioned capacity for each year; negative numbers show the decommissioned capacity for each year.
6 advantages of an energy transition (for example in Europe) - Energy Atlas 2018

Since fossil fuels are the largest single source of carbon emissions, the quantity that can be produced is limited by the Paris Agreement of 2015 to keep global warming below 1.5 °C.

Diagram describing the ideal combustion cycle by Carnot

Internal combustion engine

Overhead cam 4-stroke gasoline engine: C – crankshaft

Overhead cam 4-stroke gasoline engine: C – crankshaft

Diagram describing the ideal combustion cycle by Carnot
Reciprocating engine of a car
Diesel generator for backup power
Bare cylinder block of a V8 engine
Piston, piston ring, gudgeon pin and connecting rod
Valve train above a Diesel engine cylinder head. This engine uses rocker arms but no pushrods.
Engine block seen from below. The cylinders, oil spray nozzle and half of the main bearings are clearly visible.
Diagram showing the operation of a 4-stroke SI engine. Labels:
1 ‐ Induction
2 ‐ Compression
3 ‐ Power
4 ‐ Exhaust
Diagram of a crankcase scavenged 2-stroke engine in operation
Diagram of uniflow scavenging
Bosch magneto
Points and coil ignition
Diagram of an engine using pressurized lubrication
P-V diagram for the ideal Diesel cycle. The cycle follows the numbers 1–4 in clockwise direction.
Turbofan jet engine
Turbine power plant
Brayton cycle
The Wankel rotary cycle. The shaft turns three times for each rotation of the rotor around the lobe and once for each orbital revolution around the eccentric shaft.
One-cylinder gasoline engine, c. 1910
Electric starter as used in automobiles

ICEs are typically powered by fossil fuels like natural gas or petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel fuel or fuel oil.