Sour crude oil

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Sour crude oil is crude oil containing the impurity sulfur. It is common to find crude oil containing some impurities. When the total sulfur level in the oil is > 0.5 % the oil is called "sour".

The impurities need to be removed before this lower quality crude can be refined into petrol, thereby increasing the cost of processing. This results in a higher-priced gasoline than that made from sweet crude oil. Thus sour crude is usually processed into heavy oil such as diesel and fuel oil rather than gasoline to reduce processing cost.

The majority of the sulfur in crude oil occurs bonded to carbon atoms, with a small amount occurring as elemental sulfur in solution and as hydrogen sulfide gas. Sour oil can be toxic and corrosive, especially when the oil contains high levels of hydrogen sulfide. At higher concentrations, the hydrogen sulfide can damage the olfactory nerve, rendering the gas effectively odorless and undetectable, while paralyzing the respiratory system. If exposure is not fatal, its effects on the human body are similar to that of Gulf War Syndrome including chronic fatigue, headaches, dizziness, skin problems, memory problems, birth defects, and a host of breathing problems such as...
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