A large industry that specialises in the extraction of various chemicals from petroleum (crude oil) and natural gas.

Companies in the petrochemical industry include Total/Fina/Elf, Shell, Exxon/ExxonMobil/Esso, Occidental Petroleum/Hooker Chemical Company/OxyChem, BP/Amoco and Texaco/Chevron/ChevronTexaco. These companies are among the richest in the world, and are in general very large, mostly through mergers as seen above. Their activities include extraction of raw materials and the fractional distillation of said materials into the fun atmosphere-wrecking chemicals we see every day (gasoline, hexane, butane, propane, bitumen).

Working in this industry is a huge occupational hazard-crude oil and many of its derivatives are carcinogenic (i.e they cause cancer), the flaring of excess oil and gas produces some truly nasty fumes and if you work on an oil rig you are likely to see both of these.

The petrochemical industry is one of the world's biggest sources of pollution and a major cause of global warming. Many of the companies mentioned above (bar Exxon and their subsidiaries, long time enemies of anti-CO2 legislation) are aiming to cut back on pollution and have business interests in renewable energy, as does General Electric.