"Petroleum is naturally occurring liquid oil usually found in deposits beneath the surface of the earth. It is a kind of oil composed of rock minerals, making it totally different from other forms of oils that come from plants and animals (such as vegetable oil, animal fat, or essential oils). The word petroleum comes from the Latin words petra (rock) and oleum (oil), so virtually means that rock oil. Despite this, petroleum is an organic compound, formed from the remains of microorganisms living several years ago. Its one of the 3 main fossil fuels, along with coal and natural gas.
Not all oil released from land sources is quickly washed away to sea, however. Pipeline and oil-well accidents, unregulated industrial waste, and leaky underground storage tanks can all permanently contaminate massive areas of soil, making them economically useless as well as dangerous to the health of organisms living in and around them. Removing or treating soil contaminated by petroleum is very imperative because the hydrocarbons will leach into the underlying groundwater and enter human residential areas. The engineering field of bioremediation has emerged in recent decades as a response to this threat. In bioremediation, bacterium that feed on hydrocarbons and transform them into carbon dioxide may be applied to an affected area. Bioremediation has in several cases made cleaning up petroleum-contaminated sites a profitable real-estate investment for land developers.
Last date updated on July, 2014