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A viscous yellow to black complex mixture of hydrocarbons that occurs naturally beneath the earth's surface. Petroleum is refined (i.e.,separated by distillation) into useable fractions (see Petroleum distillate). Major reserves of oil are being tapped in the Middle East, North Africa, United States, Canada, Russia, Venezuela, Mexico and Australia. The products obtained from petroleum are used to make fuel, building supplies, solvents, plastics, elastomers, and pharmaceuticals.

Synonyms and Related Terms

crude oil; petróleo (Esp.); pétrole (Fr.); petrolio (It)



Resources and Citations

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 594
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Reed Kay, The Painter's Guide To Studio Methods and Materials, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1983
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • Kurt Wehlte, The Materials and Techniques of Painting, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1975