Explainer: All crude oil is not alike

Oil companies prefer the lighter, ‘conventional’ oils, from which it is easier to make gasoline and other desirable products

By Janet Raloff, 15:32 PM August 30, 2013


Geologists describe petroleum, as it comes out of the ground, using the term crude oil. This oil varies dramatically from place to place. Some is relatively thin and pours about as easily as the oil used to lubricate auto engines. These types of oil are known as conventional crudes. In contrast, there is a broad range of oils considered unconventional. These are thick and sometimes even tarlike. In the most extreme cases, they will pour about as easily as peanut butter (which means that at r...

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