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Hydrocarbons UPSC NOTE


  • Geological processes in the earth’s crust heated and compressed together pieces of life-forms that had been dead for a while. 

  • Eventually, this mulch of organic matter accumulated as hydrocarbons (an organic compound consisting of hydrogen and carbon) inside rock formations. 

  • The two Industrial Revolutions were the result mainly of people finding a way to extract these hydrocarbons and using them to drive many great engines, whose foul breath polluted the air and water and eventually gave us global warming.

Where is Hydrocarbons are found?

  • The most common forms in which these hydrocarbons exist in subterranean rock formations are natural gas, coal, crude oil, and petroleum. 

  • They are usually found in underground reservoirs created when a more resistant rock type overlays a less resistant one, in effect creating a lid that causes hydrocarbons to accumulate below it. 

  • Such formations are important because otherwise, the hydrocarbons would float to the surface and dissipate.

Where is Hydrocarbons are found?

  • If a rock formation is highly porous, it could hold a larger quantity of hydrocarbons. 

  • Similarly, the more permeable a rock is, more easily the hydrocarbons will flow through it

  • The primary source of hydrocarbons in this rocky underground is called kerogen: lumps of organic matter. 

  • Kerogen can be deposited from three possible sources: as the remains of a lake (lacustrine), of a larger marine ecosystem, or of a terrestrial ecosystem. 

Where is Hydrocarbons are found?

  • Rocks surrounding the kerogen can become warmer, more compact over time, exerting forces on the kerogen that cause it to break down. 

  • Lacustrine kerogen yields waxy oils; marine kerogen, oil and gas; and terrestrial kerogen, light oils, gas, and coal. 

  • The rock containing the kerogen is called the source rock, and petroleum geologists are tasked with looking for it, understanding its geophysical and thermal characteristics, and characterising its ability to yield hydrocarbons.

How are the hydrocarbons extracted?

  • Once the production well has been drilled, it has to be prepared to drain the hydrocarbons — a step called completing

  • Here, engineers remove the drill string out of the borehole and punch small holes into the casing. 

  • More often than not, the pressure inside the well is sufficiently lower than in the surrounding rock for the hydrocarbons to start flowing into the well and rise up on their own

  • And as they rise, they are forced to exit at the top via a narrower tube — which is installed to, among other things, encourage the fluids to flow in only one direction (out).

How are the hydrocarbons extracted?

  • The flow of hydrocarbons ends the completion stage and begins the production stage, when the most important aspects of the extraction operation are the systems at the well’s head controlling its outflow using valves. 

  • Sometimes, the pressure difference may be too low to bring the hydrocarbons to the surface. 

  • A common solution in some oil-rich sites is to use pump jacks, facilities seen dotting the American midwest with a hammer-shaped piston moving up and down in languid fashion. 

How are the hydrocarbons extracted?

  • They draw mechanical power from, say, an engine to lift up hydrocarbons from the bottom of a well. 

  • Some long-standing wells may require additional components or having old ones replaced to get more hydrocarbon out of them; these tasks are called workovers



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Hydrocarbons UPSC NOTE
Hydrocarbons UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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