What is oil?

Oil is the world’s most important fuel and underpins our high standard of living. It provides modern convenience and freedom of movement and is crucial to transport systems.

Oil refining produces transport fuels, such as petrol (gasoline), diesel and jet fuel, as well as heating oils such as kerosene.

By-products from oil refining are also valuable. They are used in the production of plastics and chemicals, as well as many lubricants, waxes, tars and asphalts.

Nearly all pesticides and many fertilisers are made from oil or oil byproducts.

Oil has been produced commercially and refined since the 1850s.

Australia has produced oil commercially since the 1960s and oil exploration is an important driver of Australia’s prosperity.

Oil is formed deep underground from the decomposition of organisms such as plankton and algae. Over millions of years, heat and geological pressure transform this organic matter into oil and gas.