What is Energy Resources- what is Coal – what is Trade-Uses of Coal- what is Natural Gas- Natural gas reserves and Production


Resources may be classified into renewable and non renewable resources. Mineral resources like coal, Petroleum and natural gas are the exhaustible or non renewable resources. They cannot be reused once they are consumed. Coal and petroleum are the fossil fuels, on which the modern culture relies so much. Energy gives motion to our industrial machines and vehicles. It is the primary input in the production of goods and services. The wheel of progress moves with the flow of energy. T he energy resources may be classified into two types.

(i) Non renewable sources of Energy

Once these resources are used, they cannot be regained again. In other words, they are exhaustible. They are coal, Petroleum natural gas and atomic fuels.


Coal is a fossil fuel. It is a flammable, black or brown sedimentary rock and is mainly composed of carbon. The dense forest plants were converted into coal due to intense pressure and heat inside the earth by the process of carbonization. Most of the coal resources of the world were formed during the carboniferous period (280 to 350 million years ago). The quality of the coal is determined by its carbon content. The following types of coal have been identified on the basis of their physical properties. They are,

(I) Peat is the first stage of transformation of wood into coal and it has only 30% to 35% of carbon.

(ii) Lignite or Brown coal is the inferior quality and contains 35%-45% carbon

(iii) Bituminous or coking coal is the second best variety of coal and contains 70%-90% of carbon. It is the most widely spread and most widely used variety of coal. It is the most popular coal in commercial use.

(iv) Anthracite is the best quality coal, which contains more than 95% of carbon. It is very hard but emits very less smoke and leaves very less ash. However its deposits are limited.

Production and world distribution of Coal

Coal reserves are found in more than 70 countries of the world but the major coal reserves occur in the USA, Russia, China and South Africa. China is the largest producer of steam coal in the world followed by India. The other leading producers of steam coal are USA, Indonesia, and South Africa etc.

China was the largest producer of coking coal in the world in 2016 followed by Australia. T he other leading producers of coking coal are Russia, India and USA.


Bowen Basin, Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney, New-castle, Tasmania, etc. Moscow-Tula region, Chokot Basin, Ob basin, etc. T he main exporters of coal in the world are Australia, Indonesia, Russia, Colombia and South Africa and the main importers are China, India, Japan, Korea and Germany.

Uses of Coal

Man has used coal for hundreds of years. But it has gained importance only after industrial revolution. It contributes about 25% of global energy demand. Coal is used for various purposes. It is used as a source of steam energy, electrical energy, domestic fuel, metallurgical coke, chemical industries and byproducts such as Ammonium sulphate, Naphthalene, Phenol, Benzene, etc.

Formation and occurrence of mineral oil

It is formed by residual chemical and bio chemical decomposition of the remains of organic matter in sedimentary rocks. It is found in the pores of the sedimentary rocks. Oil is lighter than water hence, floats over water. Drilling of oil wells is the hole drilled in the earth’s crust and when it reaches the rock cap, the natural gas comes out first with a great pressure. When the pressure of gas subsides, petroleum starts flowing out when the pressure of natural gas is released.

Petroleum reserves of the world

The west Asia or Middle East is has the largest petroleum reserves, which is about 60% of the world’s oil reserve. The total estimated world’s oil reserves in 2008 were 1,243 (109 bbl). Saudi Arabia, Canada, Iran, Iraq and Kuwait have large reserves of petroleum.

Production and world distribution of petroleum

The petroleum producing countries of the world can be grouped in to five geographical regions:

(i)West Asia (or) middle East region

(ii)American region

(iii) Russian region

(iv) East & south Asian region and

(v) African region Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producer of the world with 13.62% of the world output of oil.

Russia is the second largest producer in the world. India is placed at 24th position in petroleum production in the world. The distribution of oil is naturally uneven; Middle East contains 60% of global reserves and rest of the world only 40%.

Natural Gas

It is the cheapest source of energy. It is found along with or without petroleum. It is considered as an environment friendly fuel because of its low carbon dioxide emissions. T herefore, this is the only fuel for the present century and it is also called green energy. A powerful odorant, ethanethiol is added, so that leaks can be detected easily. It is prepared by refining petroleum or wet natural gas.

Natural gas reserves and Production

The known natural gas reserves in the world is about 6254 trillion cubic feet. Most of these reserves are found in Russia, Iran, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, USA etc. USA has the largest reserve and is the leading producer of natural gas in the world. India is the 28th producer of natural gas in the world. It is widely used as a fuel in industries and domestic cooking purposes. Petrochemical industries use it as fuel and raw material. It is also used in chemical industries, artificial rubber, plastic, fertilizers, ink and carbon.

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