Petroleum and its Distribution

Petroleum and mineral oil are at present the most important energy fuels. Oil is extremely important for transportation, heat production and the chemical industry. The following table summarises the products of petroleum oil and its uses:

Product Main Use
Gases Industrial and residential fuel
Gasoline Fuel in spark-ignition engines
Diesel Fuel Fuel in compression-ignition engines
Jet Fuel Fuel for jet engines and Gas Turbines
Fuel Oil Industrial or residential fuel


Petrochemical Products are used in various applications like Detergents, Cosmetics, Fertilizers, Weed Killers, Medicine, Antiseptics Fibres, Synthetic Rubber, Rust Preventatives, Liquid Petroleum Gas and many other applications.

Petroleum and Its Distribution

Crude petroleum also known as crude oil occurs in the marine sedimentary rocks. Generally, porous rocks namely sandstone, limestone and shale hold it. Being lighter than water, it collects in the anticlines which when folded gently offer favourable sites for the accumulation of oil.

Mineral oil is obtained from those decomposed tiny marine creatures, minute plants and animals which were buried under the sediments several crore years ago. Oil is generally found in wells at the dome-like structures of sedimentary rocks. The global occurrence of petroleum is very patchy, and there are sound geological reasons for this. The most significant is the distribution of continental and oceanic crust because source rocks are confined to continental crust, including continental shelves. Elsewhere, and mainly concealed beneath the world's great oceans, vast areas of oceanic crust have no source rocks and therefore no petroleum potential. The possibility of getting oil in igneous and metamorphic rocks is generally ruled out because tremendous heat and pressure involved in the formation of such rocks would destroy any oil if it happened to be there. So areas where they predominate, such as Scandinavia and the Canadian Shield are poor in petroleum resources.

Distribution of petroleum oil across the world

Middle East

The countries in the Middle East region- Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Oman and Syria constitute the richest oil region on the earth.

South America

Venezuela is the leading producer of oil in South America. Other countries with economical oil reserves in South America are Peru, Colombia, Argentina and Chile.

North America

Oil reserves are found widespread in the USA. The states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, California, Louisiana, Wyoming and Pennsylvania are major regions with proven oil reserves.


The oil reserves are mainly found in North Africa. It is included in the part of the Middle East comprising the countries- Libya, Algeria, Egypt. Apart from this, African countries- Sudan, Nigeria, Angola have substantial oil reserves.

Caucasian region

The countries of Caucasian region- Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan have prominent oil reserves. The first oil well dug in the region was Mykope in the northern Caucasus in the year 1863. In subsequent years, oil was also found at Baku. Later, another oilfield was discovered at Grozny.


Volga basin lying west of Ural range has been a leading producer of crude oil in Russia. Huge oil reserves have also been found in the north of the Caspian Sea and Sakhalin Islands. Other prominent areas of Russia where oil reserves have been found are Ob basin of western Siberia and Tainan.


Major oil reserves in Europe are found in the North Sea, which is shared by the countries of United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Netherlands.


Indonesia has oilfields in central Sumatra, Java and Kalimantan. Myanmar has proven oilfields in Irrawaddy and Chindwin valleys. Vietnam and Philippines have also offshore oil reserves in the South China Sea region. Japan has oilfields located in Hokkaido and Honshu islands. China has oil fields in the Chang Valley and Shaxi province.

The World Map showing Proven and Undiscovered oil reserves

Distribution of petroleum in India

In India, petroleum was, first of all, got known during the construction of railway tracks in Assam. The first oil well was dug near Naharpung in 1866 but no oil was obtained there. The first region where oil was obtained was Makum, in the year 1867. Subsequently, an oil refinery was established near Marhherita in 1889. After more exploration, oil was also discovered in Digboi in 1889.

Before 1960, petroleum oil was produced only in Assam. In 1960, for the very first time, an oil well was dug out of Assam state, in Ankaleshwar area in the state of Gujarat. The oil well was named as Vasudhara. India's first offshore oil mining was done on Aliabet, an island 45km away from Bhavnagar in Gujarat, in the Gulf of Khambat. In 1975, oil was discovered in Bombay High and in the subsequent year, production was started.

Production of crude oil in India (in descending order)

  1. Maharashtra( more than 60% of the production)
  2. Gujarat ( around 20% oil production)
  3. Assam ( around 15% oil production)
  4. Other states

Distribution in the state of Assam

  1. Digboi- Digboi oilfield was the only petroleum producing are of India till the 1950s. The oil from here is refined in the Digboi refinery.
  2. Naharkatiya- Naharkatiya oilfield is located on the left bank of the Burhi Dihang river. The oil from here is transported to Noonmati refinery in Assam and Barauni refinery in Bihar.
  3. Moran-Hugirijang- The oilfield is located on the Brahmaputra river valley. The oil from here is transported to Barauni refinery in Bihar.
  4. Rudrasagar-Lakwa- The oilfield is located in the Sibasagar district in the state of Assam in the Brahmaputra river valley.
  5. Surma Valley- The Badarpur, the Patharia and the Masimpur are the major oilfields in the Surma valley.

Distribution in North-East other than Assam state

  1. Nigru region- The oilfield is located in Tirap district in the state of Arunachal Pradesh.
  2. Borholla region- The oilfield is located across the border of Assam-Nagaland.

Distribution in the state of Gujarat

  1. Ankleshwar- Ankaleshwar oilfield is the largest and the oldest (1960) oilfield in Gujarat. The oilfield is located near Bharuch in the Narmada valley lower plains. The oil is transported to Trombay and Koyali for refining.
  2. Khambat and Lewnage- The oilfield is located in Borsad region, on the northern side of the Gulf of Khambat.
  3. Kalol oilfield
  4. Mehsana oilfield
  5. Navagaon oilfield
  6. Kosamba oilfield
  7. Sanand oilfield

Distribution in the Western offshore region

  1. Bombay High- The oilfield is located around 175 km south-west of Mumbai in the Arabian Sea. The production in the oilfield was started in 1976.
  2. Bassein- The oilfield is located to the south of Bombay High.
  3. Aliabet- The oilfield is located near Aliabet, an island 45km away from Bhavnagar in Gujarat, in the Gulf of Khambat.

Distribution in the Eastern coast region

  1. The Godavari-Krishna river basin oilfield- The oil here is found in both the offshore and onshore regions. The first oil well in the region was dug in the year 1980 in south-east 75 km far from Kakinara.

Distribution in Kaveri Basin region

  1. The oilfields in the Kaveri basin region are found in Narimanam and Kovilappal. The oil from here is transported to Kaveri refinery in Panaigudi near Chennai.

Oil Refineries



Map showing major oil refineries in India

List of major oil refineries in India

  1. Digboi
  2. Bongaigaon
  3. Noonmati
  4. Numaligarh
  5. Koyali
  6. Haldia
  7. Vizag
  8. Kochi
  9. Mangalore
  10. Chennai
  11. Trombay
  12. Jamnagar
  13. Paradeep
  14. Ratnagiri
  15. Vadinar
  16. Tatipaka
  17. Nagapatnam
  18. Barauni
  19. Mathura
  20. Karnal
  21. Bina
  22. Panipat
  23. Bhatinda

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