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The Difference Between Gas, Coal, Oil, and Petroleum

Updated on December 22, 2014

Energy has become a main force in power and in progress. Not only once would we see energy being discussed in the news, magazines, and websites. We take it from nature and it comes to us in different forms. Enumerated in this article are the different sources of energy that might confuse some of us and the countries that produce the most of them.

The author has laid in this article the simple differences and omitted the technical and/or scientific differences that each commodity possesses. Pictures were also added but the reader must beware that these commodities are seen in various forms in nature and they are also sometimes processed into different versions of the original material.

There are also more forms of energy out there in the world like renewable energy and energy produced in different types of power plants. Those elaborated here are coal, petroleum, oil, and gasoline.

Gasoline in a jar
Gasoline in a jar | Source


Gasoline is the liquid that we use to power most of our engine-powered vehicles. It is transparent. It is derived from petroleum, as other fuels also are. It is the commodity offered in gasoline stations, as the name suggests.

The largest gasoline exporters based on information released in 2012 are: Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar.

As we may see, it is the main export product that makes the Middle East rich. It is the reason war in Iraq or Iran drives gasoline prices up. Russia had recently used it as leverage in negotiations with Europe regarding Ukraine.

It is a very important commodity that powers engines and keeps things moving in industry, trade, and tourism.

LPG tank
LPG tank | Source

LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas), Propane or Butane

In some countries, LPG is also called simply as gas. But it is different from gasoline in composition and it is commonly bought in tanks. While natural gas is composed of methane and ethane, LPG is composed of propane and butane.

It is commonly used as fuel in our kitchen stoves, heating appliances, and other cooking equipment. It is also used as aerosol propellant since it causes less damage to the ozone layer.

This can be used as a vehicle fuel but when used as such, it is often referred to as "auto gas" or "auto propane".

The top exporters of LPG are the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, with some research suggesting that by 2020, the United States will have become the top exporter of LPG due to increases in domestic supply.

Coal is a black rock mined for its combustibility.
Coal is a black rock mined for its combustibility. | Source


Coal is also an energy resource but it is not liquid. (Although it can be liquefied as a fuel to some vehicles.) It is a black rock that is mined to be later burned to power electricity-producing plants. In fact, it is the most widely used commodity for producing electricity in the world. And since electricity is very important to us in this technological age, coal is also important along with it.

The top coal producers are (2011 data): China, the United States, the European Union, Australia and India.


Crude Oil or Petroleum

Petroleum is processed from crude oil. It is an underground liquid with yellowish color. It is used to manufacture a wide variety of products and it may also be processed further to produce products like gasoline, kerosene, and asphalt.

The world is estimated to consume 90 million barrels of petroleum each day.

The top producers of oil are (2012 data): Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United States, China, Canada, Iran, Iraq, and the United Arab Emirates.



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