Topic 7
Oil Refining and Natural Gas Production


How do you turn crude oil into gasoline? Does natural gas come out of the ground ready to be used?

You’ve retrieved the crude oil and natural gas from the reservoir, so the hard work is over… right? Not so fast.

Crude oil is a sludgy blend of many hydrocarbons and other chemicals. Natural gas is, in part, an odorless mix of water, hydrocarbon liquids, methane, propane, butane, and hexane. These products need a great deal of processing before they can be useful in any capacity. What do we need to do to turn oil and gas into items we can use?

How are crude oil and natural gas processed? What products do we make when we process oil and gas?

Crude oil and natural gas are treated very differently once they are retrieved from the well. These two products may have formed together over millions of years, but they have very different properties. Gas must be processed at the well before it can be moved. Oil, on the other hand, can be piped directly to a refinery, where it is made into gasoline and other useful products.

Learn More

Curious about oil refining and natural gas production? To learn more about how crude oil and natural gas are processed, check out these courses about refining hydrocarbons.

  • Energy 701: Refining Crude Oil
  • Energy 702: Natural Gas Production