What is petroleum?

Petroleum is a general term for oil and natural gas.

Oil and gas are important fossil fuels formed from the decomposition and pressurisation of algae, plankton and other organisms.

This process forms hydrocarbons, which are compounds consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon that are powerful combustible fuels.

Individual deposits of oil and gas can also contain other compounds, but it is the hydrocarbons that make them valuable.

For more information see the oil and natural gas pages.