What is Petroleum and Natural Gas?

What petroleum and natural gas are:

Bakken Oil
Bakken Oil: A worker holds a small container of Bakken oil. Photo courtesy of MBI Energy Services.
  • Petroleum and natural gas are nonrenewable sources of energy.
  • Petroleum is a liquid mixture found underground that can be used to make gasoline, diesel fuel, and many other products.
    • Petroleum is also called crude oil or oil.
  • Natural gas is a mixture of gases – mostly methane.Methane is a clear gas with no odor Natural gas is sometimes just called gas.
    • Natural gas is found underground with petroleum.
    • Natural gas is flammable (burns with a flame).


  • The fuel used in cars is often called gas, but it is not really gas at all. It is a shortened form of the word gasoline. Gasoline is a liquid fuel made from petroleum.


  • Petroleum and natural gas are fossil fuels.A fossil is the remains of a plant or animal that has been buried in the earth (in rock, soil, ice, etc.)
    • Fossil fuels were formed millions of years ago from the remains of plants and animals.
      • The fossil fuels are petroleum, natural gas, and coal.
        • Natural gas is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel.