Articles on Petroleum

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Over 99 percent of today’s plastics come from oil, but new bio-based options are becoming available. Icons by Vectors Market, Freepik and srip

The surprising way plastics could actually help fight climate change

One big problem with plastics is that they're largely made of petroleum. Sourcing bio-polymers from plants and bacteria has some big benefits – and the technology is starting to take off.
The Navy converted to oil from coal a few years before the U.S. entered World War I, helping to solidify petroleum’s strategic status. Naval History and Heritage Command

How World War I ushered in the century of oil

Before World War I, petroleum had few practical uses, but it emerged from the war as a strategic global asset necessary for national stability and security.
A family catches Mardi Gras beads during the Krewe of Thoth parade down St. Charles Avenue in 2000. Reuters

The destructive life of a Mardi Gras bead

Each Mardi Gras, 25 million pounds of beads hit the streets of New Orleans. One researcher went to the Chinese factories that make them – and spoke to the workers who believe the beads will be given to royalty.
OPEC can’t stop the flow. Isaac Urrutia/Reuters

Is OPEC’s oil era over?

OPEC has been declared dead in recent months as the group of oil-exporters has been unable to agree on a plan to stabilize the market. But was it really ever alive in the first place?
Shell chief Ben van Beurden is pointing the way for oil companies to demand greater certainty over future climate policy. EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA/AAP

Shell chief calls for climate action, but what are the firm’s motives?

In a speech last Thursday at International Petroleum Week – one of the biggest events on the industry’s calendar – Ben van Beurden, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, argued that big energy companies…

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