And What They’re Used For

Oil RigCrude Oil and Natural Gas are both fossil fuels formed from the remains of dead animal and plants over the course of thousands of years. They both are used as a heat source, produce energy, and are both made up of different hydrocarbons which are compounds of both hydrogen and carbon.

So, what’s the difference between them?

The biggest difference between Crude Oil and Natural Gas is their molecular makeup.

Crude Oil is comprised of a wide and diverse selection of complex hydrocarbons.  Because of its unique and complex makeup, Crude Oil comes in many different forms and its viscosity and volatility can vary widely.  Due to each deposit of Crude Oil having its own unique mix of chemicals, it requires extensive refining for it to be commercially used.

Natural Gas is also made up of a mixture of different hydrocarbons, such as gasses like ethane, propane, butane, and pentane.  However, the greatest benefit of natural gas is that its main component (roughly 80%) is the relatively simple hydrocarbon methane.  This simple structure makes natural gas much easier to refine for commercial use.

Finally, they differ in their uses and consumption.

After refinement Crude Oil is generally used for the following:

  • Gasoline
  • Heating Oil & Diesel Fuels
  • Other Products (such as plastics)
  • Jet Fuel
  • Propane
  • Residential Fuel Oil
  • Asphalt

Whereas Natural Gas is used for:

  • Electrical Power Generation
  • Residential Heating
  • Commercial Heating
  • Industrial Production