What Is a Petroleum Reservoir?

Esther Ejim

A petroleum reservoir is a term that is used to describe the accumulation of crude oil in a defined location. Usually, the location where the crude oil may have formed is often underground or beneath the sea or ocean floor. These formations are the result of the decomposition of organic matter over the course of centuries, which is why the fuel or energy that is derived from such is known as a nonrenewable source of energy. This means any depletion of such a deposit cannot be replenished the same way in the foreseeable future, making it absolutely necessary for other sources of energy to be developed to take the pressure off the fast-depleting global petroleum reservoir that has been subjected to intense demand from consumers of energy.

An offshore oil platform can be used to extract crude oil from underwater reservoirs.
An offshore oil platform can be used to extract crude oil from underwater reservoirs.

A petroleum reservoir may be discovered by accident, as has happened when the oil seeps to the surface or when the oil seeps into water supply, consequently revealing its presence in that location. Other times, it is often necessary to intentionally explore different regions through the application of scientific and geographic knowledge with the view of discovering other places that may contain petroleum reservoir. Some regions of the world have vast crude oil deposits or are blessed with the presence petroleum reservoir within their geographic territory. Where this is the case, such countries can expect to make a lot of money from the sale of the oil both in its crude and refined state.

Crude oil accumulates in a petroleum reservoir.
Crude oil accumulates in a petroleum reservoir.

Indeed, some oil companies dedicate a lot of resources in the form of manpower, economic and material resources to the discovery of any form of petroleum reservoir. Some of these oil companies have expensive oil rigs located on both onshore and offshore facilities where they are utilized in drilling holes that go down many feet into the ground as part of the process of extracting the crude oil from the reservoir. Even though the presence of a petroleum reservoir is considered a stroke of good fortune by the residents of that area due to the economic benefits, some members may not be quite as thrilled due to the negative environmental and adverse health consequences associated with the various processes of drilling for the petroleum. For example, the practice of gas flaring is one that releases noxious fumes into the environment, and the many cases of oil spills also contribute to the detrimental effects associated with petroleum reservoir exploration.

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