Petroleum and Petrochemicals

Petrochemicals use petroleum to produce most of our everyday goods.

Petroleum and petrochemicals are part of today’s enormous demand for daily necessities followed by mass production and the need for cost-effective and rapid solutions. The transition to less costly and environmentally friendly production processes is slowly taking place, starting with petrochemicals.

Petrochemicals are chemical substances produced through the process of petrochemistry that can be found in most of our goods that use materials such as plastics, fibers, and rubbers. They are also used in medical equipment and transportation parts and to add product features like water resistance.

Producing petrochemicals starts with crude oil, also known as petroleum, so let us look deeper into petroleum and petrochemicals. 

What Is the Difference between Petroleum and Petrochemicals?

Let us look at petroleum and petrochemicals in detail. When speaking of petroleum, the average person may associate it with gasoline because gasoline is the only petroleum product that the typical consumer must purchase regularly. It is common and inexpensive, and its price frequently fluctuates in response to economic, political, or supply-level concerns. As a result, gasoline receives the most attention, but petroleum is also used to make several other products that, in turn, service a number of different purposes. Let us first define and look at the differences between petroleum and petrochemicals.




Meaning –        Also named crude oil, petroleum is a fossil fuel that was formed from the remains of ancient marine organisms like plants, algae, and bacteria, just like coal and natural gas. –        Petrochemicals are chemical raw materials created from petroleum and natural gas.  Their production starts with refining crude oil which is converted into petrochemical raw materials and then transformed to create petrochemical derivatives that are used for manufacturing goods.
production process –        These organic remains (fossils) have changed over millions of years of intense heat and pressure into carbon-rich substances that we use as fuel and raw materials for manufacturing. –        These chemical substances are produced in petrochemical plants where petroleum is refined, then transformed and other natural gases are chemically decomposed.
The industry activities –        In the petroleum industry, activities of work involve exploration and production by petroleum engineers. –        The petrochemical industry mainly deals with crude oil refining compared to the petroleum industry.
  • What products are made from petroleum and petrochemicals?

Both petroleum and petrochemicals are related with different production processes. After crude oil is extracted from the ground, it is transported to a refinery, where various components are separated into petroleum products like gasoline, distillates such as diesel fuel and heating oil, jet fuel, petrochemical feedstocks, waxes, lubricating oils, and asphalt.

Petroleum is also found in school products (rulers, crayons, ink), medicine (pill coatings, disposable syringes), cosmetics, clothing, nail polish deodorant, and much more.

Petrochemicals use petroleum to make products, including plastics, rubbers, resins, synthetic fibers, adhesives, dyes, detergents, pesticides, and petroleum-derived paints and coatings.  


Petrochemicals and their derivatives

Numerous essential goods are made from petrochemicals as raw materials. Ethylene, propylene, benzene, butadiene, toluene, and xylene are the six derivatives of these petrochemicals; the first three are the most frequently referred to when discussing petrochemicals.

Why is petroleum so valuable?

Petroleum is very limited in resources yet highly demanded. Being one of the world’s most important sources of energy, it’s used to heat buildings as well as transportation despite it being a non-renewable energy source. In fact, it is estimated that the world has a petroleum reserve worth 47 years of usage left which is equivalent to more than 1.6 trillion barrels.

Global consumption levels of liquid fuels were estimated to rise by 0.4 million barrels per day from an average of 99.4 million in 2022 to 100.9 million barrels per day in 2023.

The petroleum industry has seen changes in consumption globally since 2021.
Looking at these numbers leads to conclude that petroleum and petrochemicals play a vital role in global economies.

Petrochemical industry environmental impact

The petrochemical industry has a significant impact on the environment. As per the Monetary Times, it represents 18% of the worldwide absolute of carbon dioxide outflows. Compared to steel and cement, which mostly rely on coal, this is a sizable portion.

Petrochemicals generate a lot of waste, including a lot of plastic that is thrown away. Water use in the production of petrochemicals is also significant, contributing to increased demand and water shortages in some regions of the world.

Meanwhile, the market for petrochemicals is also expanding significantly. Petrochemicals are crucial in a lot of important industries like the automotive and telecommunications industries. Also, petrochemicals help those industries that are the best at producing energy that is good for the environment, including wind turbines and solar panels.

Egyptian Petrochemicals Holding Company

In Egypt, the petroleum and petrochemical is predicted to increase. In fact, the petrochemical market is growing through its key industry players including the Egyptian Petrochemicals Holding Company (Echem) and Anchorage Investments. Echem has had 17 years of expertise in the petrochemical industry and built projects worth about $7 billion.

Anchorage investments is another major producer in the industry, operating in petrochemical products, beneficiation, and mining. Comprised of several separate entities, the industrial group has had domestic and regional success through its projects.

Anchorage Investments’ most recent project is its Anchor Benitoite petrochemical complex to be in the Suez Canal, Egypt. The construction project will offer thousands of new jobs and aims to become a regional game changer in the petroleum and petrochemicals sectors.

Petroleum, also known as crude oil, is used for various needs, including heating buildings and transportation fuel. Most importantly, it’s used to create petrochemical products for medical equipment, cosmetics, solar panels, and more. Crude oil is derived from fossils and then refined in petrochemical plants to create derivatives that are used as raw materials in the production of other goods.

The petrochemical industry is a growing market with negative and positive environmental impacts. It helps create eco-friendly energy producers, such as wind turbines, that can produce toxic waste. Additionally, producers in this field include Anchorage Investments, which operates locally and regionally.

In conclusion, petroleum and petrochemicals are two essential components in producing our everyday necessities and commodities.