Think of Christmas and your mind will conjure up images of Santa Claus, reindeers, elves and piles of presents. These are all integral parts of Christmas, but there’s one thing that’s more important than all of these for making everyone’s Christmas a success... oil! Without oil, we’d all be having a much less enjoyable, comfortable and entertaining festive period.
Let’s take a look at how oil makes Christmas possible:
- Travel- Look at the logistics of travelling to see friends and relatives around the festive period; whether you travel by car, plane or train, it’s just not possible without oil. And to put it into perspective, oil doesn’t just power a small percentage of transport; oil is the fundamental source of energy for transportation. Consider that a full 70% of all oil consumed in the US (and 76.5% in the UK) is used for transportation. So no oil, no Christmas travel!
- Food- Just behind spending time with the family, food is for many people one of the highlights of Christmas day. There’s nothing quite like sitting down to enjoy a festive feast of turkey and all the trimmings. But without oil you’d struggle to get the turkey from the shops to your home, let alone efficiently cooking it. Without oil it’s unlikely your Christmas dinner would be much more than a cold tin of beans or a soggy sandwich.
- Toys & electronic goods- It’s thanks to oil that your children can be distracted and entertained by a wide variety of plastic toys and games on Christmas day. Without oil we would have to return to the days of the wooden ball and cup- not something that would impress many of today’s children! And don’t forget that increasingly many of us like to pay for these gifts with our credit and debit cards. Without oil you wouldn’t be able to ‘whack it on the plastic’.
- Heating- One of the highlights of Christmas for many people is enjoying a post-lunch sleep in front of the television in a cosy, warm living room. The energy for the heating and television is often produced by oil (for example about 6 million households in the United States use heating oil as their main space heating fuel).
So that's how oil is the power behind many key parts of the modern Christmas experience. But what role does oil play in the immediate post-Christmas period?
- Medicine- After a solid 2 days of festive alcohol consumption it’s likely that you’ll have a sore head. An aspirin or two will be essential to help you deal with lightsabre fights with your nephews or in constructing complex toys for your daughter. Most aspirin manufacturing begins with benzene, a hydrocarbon that is typically derived from petroleum products. Without oil, your headache would last a lot longer!
- Cleaning- What about cleaning up the mess? Cleaning up is the final hurdle for anyone celebrating Christmas. Cleaning products and bin bags are almost all made with oil or other petroleum products. Without them we’d be looking at a messy start to 2017.
There you have it. Without oil your Christmas would be drastically different to how it is now.
We hope you've enjoyed our light hearted look at how oil powers Christmas. However, in all seriousness, we'd like to say thank you from everyone at Fircroft to the workers of the global oil and gas industry who toil year round to make modern living possible. Without them, Christmas would be cancelled!
-Energy Information Administration (EIA) and Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Oil Statistics, Quarterly Tables: Energy trends, Supply and use of petroleum products.
-US Energy Information Administration (EIA), Short-Term Energy Outlook, Table FWO1, January 2016.