Oil has been used for lighting purposes for many thousands of years. In
areas where oil is found in shallow reservoirs, seeps of crude oil or gas may
naturally develop, and some oil could simply be collected from seepage or
Historically, we know the tales of eternal fires where oil and gas seeps
ignited and burned. One example is the site where the famous oracle of
Delphi was built around 1,000 B.C. Written sources from 500 B.C. describe
how the Chinese used natural gas to boil water.
It was not until 1859 that "Colonel" Edwin Drake drilled the first successful oil
well, with the sole purpose of finding oil. The Drake Well was located in the
middle of quiet farm country in northwestern Pennsylvania, and sparked the
international search for an industrial use for petroleum.