Petroleum Historical Terminology
The original version of this article was created by Francesco Gerali, 2019 Elizabeth & Emerson Pugh Scholar in Residence at the IEEE History Center
It is recommended this article be cited as:
F. Gerali (2019). Petroleum Historical Terminology, Engineering and Technology History Wiki. [Online] Available: https://ethw.org/Petroleum_Historical_Terminology
|Naphtha, Condensate-Light oil, (85° - 35° API)||Language||Notes/Etymology|
|Naptu; Naphtu||Akkadian||Name found on a 2200 b.c. clay table and referred to an ardent and flaming liquid light petroleum|
|Naphta/Nepht||Aramaic||Light fraction of petroleum coming from the ground for natural distillation/exudation|
|White Petroleum/True Naphta||English||Referred to a very good quality of light petroleum found in Asia, but principally coming from Persia|
|Naphta Alba/Naphta Nigra||Latin||Used by natural philosophers in 16th-17th centuries|
|Nafta||Italian||Very light petroleum used raw in lamps and to produce varnishes|
|Olio di Santa Caterina/ Oglio di Sasso/Oglio Santo/Olio Montesibile/Olei Montezibini/||Medieval Latin/Italian (archaic)/Italian||Medieval age. Province of Modena, Italian Northern Apennines|
|Yellow/Italian Petroleum||English||Very light naphtha found in the province of Piacenza, Italian Northern Apennines|
|Olio di Amiano||Italian||Medieval age. Miano, Medesano, Parma, below the Italian Northern Apennines. Also found as Olio of Miano or Huile of Amian in French literature (1700-1800)|
|Casinghead Gasoline||English||Obsolete term (pre-20th century) for very light naphtha|
|Natural Gasoline||English||Obsolete term (pre-20th century) for very light naphtha|
|Petroleum, Medium oil – Heavy oil, (20° - 40° API)||Language||Notes/Etymology|
|Petroleum||Latin||Roman age. Term also found since the 9th century in the English literature|
|Earth Oil/Petroleum||English||Medieval/Modern age|
|Petrolio/Crudo/Greggio||Italian||Terminology used since the 19th century|
|Mineral Oil/Liquid Bitumen||English||Used as synonymous for Petroleum or Rock Oil|
|Oleum Petrol||Medieval Latin||Used by natural philosophers in the 16th-17th centuries|
|Oleum Petronicum||Medieval Latin||Used by natural philosophers in the 16th-17th centuries|
|Oleo Simile||Medieval Latin||Used by natural philosophers in the 16th-17th centuries|
|Olio/Oleo di Sasso||Italian||Used by natural philosophers in the 16th-17th centuries|
|Olio di Santa Barbara||Italian||Used by natural philosophers in the 16th-17th centuries|
|Font de l’Oli||French (1700)||Oil spring in the city of Gabian, France|
|Gabian/Red Petroleum||English||Used since the Medieval Age to refer to the reddish-thick variety of petroleum found in Gabian, France, and in the Province of Modena in Italy|
|Blunt von Thyrsus/ Tyrschen-Oel||Early New High German||Oil springs located in Seefeld (Tyrol), Austria|
|Petrol||British English||Before the 20th century, a synonym for petroleum|
|Rock-Oil/Ethereal Fossil Oil||English (1700)||Also used as synonymous of petroleum|
|Seneca Oil||American English||New York state, named by the Native Americans Seneca Tribe|
|Colombio||Spanish||Found floating in the Maracaibo Lake, Perù|
|Jugo del la Tierra||Spanish||Term in use from the medieval age|
|Barbados Petroleum||English||From the Pitch Lake in the Barbados Islands|
|Bitumen, Heavy oil , (10° - 25° API)||Language||Notes/Etymology|
|Maltha||Latin||Term generally referred to viscous bitumen|
|Bitumen liquidum||Medieval Latin||Used by natural philosophers in 16th-17th centuries|
|Esir||Sumerian||Likely the first mineral oil used by humans|
|Qir/Kir||Arab||From the Greek Keros (wax)|
|G’atu; Batu||Sanskrit||Mineral oil with the texture of the shellac resin|
|Stockolm Tar||English||Sweden. The term Stockholm Tar instead is synonymous of Pine tar|
|Baechel-Brunn||Early New High German||(Pitch Fountain) Alsace, Lampertsloch|
|Chapopotli||Aztec||Used in Mexico to refer in general terms to pitch, tar, and thickened bitumen|
|Travers Asphalte||French||Val de Travers, Switzerland|
|Pissasphaltos||Latin||Mixture of bitumen and pitch found in the region of Apollonia, Greece|
|Pegola||Italian (1600)||Used also to refer to asphalts|
|Barbados Bitumen/Barbados Tar/Indian Cedar-Pitch Oil/Barbados Pitch||English||From the Pitch Lake in the Barbados Islands|
|Asphalt, Extra (ultra) heavy oil, (0° - 10° API)||Language||Notes/Etymology|
|Bitume di Giudea/Bitumen Judaicum||Italian/Latin|
|Brea||Spanish||Found in Mexico, Perù and Venezuela|
|Gagates||Latin||Known before the Roman Age. Called also Gagate Stones or Jet in Anglophone environment and were considered a petrified mineral oil|
|LNG/CNG, (78° - 90° API)||Language||Notes/Etymology|
|Gas||English||Term introduced by Joan Baptista van Helmont in 1648|
|Aria (Gaz) Infiammabile delle Paludi||Italian||Swamp gas (later acknowledged as methane). Introduced by Alessandro Volta in 1776|
|Gas Naturale||Italian||Natural Gas. Introduced by Lazzaro Spallanzani in 1795|
|Gas idrogeno (idrogene) carbonato||Italian||Hydrogen carbonate gas. Introduced by Lazzaro Spallanzani in 1795|
|Methan||German||Methane. Introduced by August Wilhelm von Hofmann in 1865|
|Fontane/Sorgenti Ardenti||Italian||Burning Springs|
|Burning Springs||English||Flaming gaseous outcrops|
|Natural Petroleum Wax||Language||Notes/Etymology|
|Ozokerite/Ozocerite||English||The name derives from the Greek oze, stench, and kero, wax. It is a naturally-occurring odoriferous mineral wax or paraffin. Found in large quantities chiefly in Moldavia (mined since the 20th century), in the past centuries was the most known and diffused petroleum wax. Among the natural philosopher it was generally called Earth Wax|
|Hatchettite||English||A natural paraffin wax variety of Ozokerite/Ozocerite, it is considered identical to evenkite|
|Ambrite||English||An amorphous, greasy, yellowish gray oxygenated waxy hydrocarbon which occurs in masses in Auckland, New Zealand|
|Ader Wax||English||Crude ozokerite in leafy masses|
|Adipocerite||English||A synonym for hatchettite|
|Evenkite||English||Named for the Evenkia district, Russia (Siberian region in Krasnoyarsk Krai), where it is found|
|Zietrisikite||English||Mineral was/paraffin resembling ozokerite in most physical characters and in composition|
|Oil Shales/Bituminous Shales||English||Sedimentary rocks capable of producing, through pyrolysis, a certain amount of oil. They are constituted by an inorganic fraction (from which the names clay-shale and clayey carbonates) and an organic component (kerogen) coming mainly from seaweed. The oil shales take different names depending on the type of product they can supply, their porosity, the organic matter contained, or the location where they are extracted|
|Cannel Coal/Candle Coal/Gas Coal||English||Coal that produces a flame like that of a candle when burned|
|Kerosene Shales||English||New South Wales and Tasmania (Australia)|
|Algal Coal||English||Also found as Boghead coal|
|Tasmanite||English||Alga Tasmanite (Tasmania)|
|Boghead Coal||English||Boghead, village in West Lotian, Scotland. Other synonymous used today are Boghedite and Torbanite|
|Torbanite||English||Torbane Hill, hill in the proximity of Boghead, West Lotian, Scotland|
|Coorongite||English||Coorong, South Australia|
|Ampelitis||Latin||Bituminous earth described since the antiquity (Pliny, Dioscorides, and late Georg Agricola), sometimes as a crystal black pitch similar to coal. In the 18th century it was considered a variety of channel coal (bituminous shale) similar to those found in Lancashire, UK|
|Gilsonite||English||Term used since the 19th century. Today is called Uintahite|
|Carbon Oil||English||Introduced by Samuel Kier, PA, USA to refer to the lamp fuel he refined from crude petroleum (patented in 1851)|
|Coal Oil||English||Lamp fuel produced from coal in the USA and Europe. The term remained randomly in the popular use in the 19th century even well petroleum became the only feedstock to refine lamp fuels|
|Camphenes||English||Lamp fuel produced in Europe from the asphalts of Pechelbronn (France) and the Val de Treves (Switzerland) already before the diffusion of petroleum. Apparently, Camphenes was already in use before the introduction of Camphine, the combinations of alcohol, turpentine and camphor oil, in the United States|
|Cleaners’ Solvent||English||In the early 20th century, a well refined petroleum fraction boiling between 300°F. and 400°F. and primarily intended for use in dry cleaning|
|Kerosene (1)||English||Introduced by Abraham Gessner, Canada, in 1849 to name the lamp fuel he obtained from bituminous substances from Trinidad (following from Albertite). The name derives from a combination of the Greek words that stand for wax and oil|
|Kerosene (2)||English||Since 1860s, used to name all the lamp fuels refined from liquid petroleum|
|Kerosene (3)||English||Synonymous of aviation fuel (propeller and jet engines). Kerosene for lamps was widely used to fuel plane engines in the early years of aviation. The name remained in the common language even to refer to customized variation conceived specifically for aviation uses. Kerosene and Kerosene/gasoline blends were also fuelling the firsts jet engines until the late 1940s. Informally, the name survives still today (Aviation Kerosene)|
|Paraffin Oil||English||Introduced in Great Britain by James Young (1840s) then patented in the US (1850) and known as Coal Oil. Produced from coal and bituminous clays|
|Paraffin Wax/Petroleum Wax||English||Waxy organic substance present in crude oil and consisting of high molecular weight crystalline saturated hydrocarbons. Term introduced by Karl Ludwig von Reichenbach (Germany) in 1833|
|Petrol||English||Since the 1910s, used mainly in British speaking countries to refer to petroleum spirit, light petroleum, motor oil, benzine: all were synonymous of gasoline|
|Petrolatum/Soft Petroleum Ointment||English||Paraffin wax/petroleum wax produced in many forms and density. Used as antiseptic, emollient, ointment base, grease and lubricant. It was commercialized under several proprietary names, e.g. Adeps Petrolei, Adepsine Oil, Amalie, Atoleine, and Atolin, Petronol, and Petrosapol|
|Vaseline||French||Refined paraffin wax/petroleum wax|
|Vasellina||Italian||Refined paraffin wax/petroleum wax|
|Yellow Ozokerine||English||A product resembling vaseline, but less homogeneous. Refined from crude ozokerite, it is used in ointments and pomades|
|Yellow Wax||English||A viscous, semi-solid, difficultly volatile substance obtained on distillation of still residuum. It contains anthracene and other hydrocarbons of complex structure|
|Petroleum and gas seepages/spontaneous outcrops||Language||Notes/Etymology|
|Oil & Gas Seepages/ Oil & Gas Seeps||English||Surface outcropping of mineral oil|
|Vulcani di Fango||Italian||Mud volcanoes associated with gas and petroleum emission at high temperature|
|Salse/Sarse||Italian/Modena dialect||Pseudo-volcanic hydro-clay low temperature emissions accompanied by methane, salt water, petroleum|
|Bollitori||Italian||Boilers. Small mud volcanoes erupting small mixes of mud and natural gas|
|Maqlûb||Arabic||In Italian Maccalube and used in Sicily to name the local Salse|
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