Why is there a lot of oil in the Middle East?

By Product Expert | Posted in FAQs on Monday, January 6th, 2020 at 8:08 pm
An oil pump pumps oil in a desert at sunset.

Middle Eastern Oil: Where It All Comes From

Most Americans tend to use a lot of oil in their daily lives. The most obvious use, of course, is in our automobiles, for which oil provides the basis for both fuel and lubricant. For this reason, we here at Third Coast Auto Group spend a lot of time thinking about oil.

The main sources of oil in our modern world are located in the region commonly referred to as the “Middle East” (although this nomenclature may admittedly be problematic). Why does the Middle East have so much oil?

The most widely accepted theory for why the Middle East is loaded with oil is that the region was not always a vast desert. Scientists say that 100 million years ago this area was instead a massive body of water known as the “Tethys Ocean.” Rivers that fed into this ocean were loaded with nutrients, which lead to conditions that were conducive for a diverse variety of microscopic life to materialize in the water.

As life is never one to pass up an opportunity, these conditions resulted in billions and billions of miniscule marine creatures swimming about. Algae, bacteria, and whatever else nature came up with eventually accumulated on the ocean floor in thick layers that grew to be miles deep. As more layers formed on top of these over time, the lower parts were compressed. Those compressed aquatic corpses transformed into oil. The oil was captured in place on the seabed by thick layers of salt.

As the land in the modern Middle East region rose due to tectonic activity, the Tethys Ocean receded. What remained in its place was the sandy, dry Middle Eastern desert. But deep under the sand, the oily remains of billions of microscopic lifeforms still lie buried. Today, we suck these remains to the surface and use them to power our automobiles, in addition to many other gizmos of modern life.