Why oil is important

Oil: lifeblood of the industrialised nations Oil has become the world's most important source of energy since the mid-1950s. Its products underpin modern society, mainly supplying energy to power industry, heat homes and provide fuel for vehicles and aeroplanes to carry goods and people all over the world.

In fact, oil meets 97 per cent of the UK transport sector demand. In addition, it also benefits our lives in being vital to the production of many everyday essentials. Oil’s refined products are used to manufacture almost all chemical products, such as plastics, fertilisers, detergents, paints and even medicines, plus a whole host of other products that you might not expect. 

Final energy consumption by fuel, UK (1970 to 2014)

Most oil is used for transport (car, lorries and planes) but around a quarter used for heating, chemical plants and in other industry

Source: DECC

Here are some examples of what we owe to oil, every day of our lives:

  • At school: rulers, crayons, ink and cartridges, glue, coverings on books, binders...
  • For your health: coatings for pills, binding agent for creams, disposable syringes...
  • In the home: contact lenses, cosmetics, clothing, fabrics, nail polish, deodorants, shampoo, paint, upholstery and carpets, detergents for washing up and laundry, dry-cleaning fluid...
  • Out shopping: shopping bags, credit cards, egg cartons, plastic milk bottles
  • While cooking: non-stick pans, cling film, storage containers
  • For building: roofing tiles, pipes, insulating material, paint
  • On the move: petrol and diesel for cars and lorries, emergency services and trains, asphalt road surfaces
  • In the office: computer hardware, phones and faxes, diskettes, pens, chairs, printing ink
  • At your leisure: CDs, videos, cassette tapes, camera film, artists' paint, bicycle handlebar grips, tyres, crash helmets, football boots, trainers, shin pads, windsurfers, roller blades
  • Garden: fertilisers, pesticides, garden furniture

Petroleum products used for energy by main sectors, UK (2000 to 2014)

Source: DECC

Through its extensive supply chain, the oil & gas industry employs hundreds of thousands of people and makes a major contribution to the UK economy in terms of tax revenues, technologies and exports. Tens of thousands of people work in the oil and gas industry. Each week Britain produces about two million tonnes of oil and gas. This is worth about £37 million pounds a day to the people of Britain.




Future opportunities

Sources: Oil & Gas in UK, Economic Report 2015