Oil and gas products also keep our emergency services teams safe. Police officers don Kevlar™ vests and restrain suspects with flexible handcuffs. Firefighters avoid burns with coveralls, helmets and face shields.  Medical technicians eliminate contamination risk with gloves and disposable needles.

In the January 2014 issue of PatchWorks, we covered some of the clothing and personal articles made with oil and gas. This month, we’re going to look at fuels.

The first fuel that probably comes to mind is gasoline (which, by the way, is made from crude oil, not gas.) Most of us have a love/hate relationship with gasoline: we love the freedom it offers to get us where we want and need to be, but we dislike paying for it! So the next time you’re filling up, remember that, per litre, gasoline is much cheaper than milk, coffee or bottled water, all of which we’re quite happy to buy.

If you’d like to know what goes into the price of a litre of gasoline, read the June 2010 issue of PatchWorks.

What do credit cards, piano keys, balloons, flexible handcuffs, disposable diapers, ink and bubble gum have in common? Oil and gas of course!

So if oil is used for gasoline, what does natural gas fuel? Natural gas (which is 70% to 90% methane) is used worldwide for powering hydroelectric plants; heating and cooling homes and businesses; and fuelling stoves, ovens, fireplaces and barbecues.

Then there are natural gas liquids, such as propane, which is used for barbecues, patio heaters and portable stoves; and butane, which is used in lighters.

The amazing properties of natural gas go well beyond fuel. For example, another natural gas liquid is ethane, used to make polyethylene, the most common plastic. Polyethylene packaging is all around us: in plastic bags, wraps, bottles and containers. Ethane is also used to make polystyrene, which most of us call Styrofoam™.

Even if you don’t drive a car or carry your groceries home in plastic bags, you still use dozens – or even hundreds – of petroleum-based products every day. It’s hard to play a sport, work in the garden or get medical treatment without relying on items made from oil and gas. And it’s impossible to talk on the phone, listen to music, watch TV or play an online game, since all electronics are made of plastic components.


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