IN 1970, THE United States became unable to meet its total oil energy needs, and became an oil-importing nation. Until then, American oil fields in Texas, Louisiana, and California had been able to meet the national need. By 2012, it is likely that the world as a whole will consume around 100 million barrels of oil per day. Humans have known about oil and some of its uses for millennia, but it only became identified as a consumable unit, in terms of extraction, refining, and then commercial use, in the late 19th century. The first commercial oil wells were in Pennsylvania; the industry soon spread to Ohio, and then jumped south and west to the Gulf Coast, which still has the bulk of U.S. oil refineries.
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