Petroleum, along with oil and coal, is classified as a fossil fuel. Fossil fuels are formed when sea plants and animals die, and the remains become buried under several thousand feet of silt, sand or mud. Fossil fuels take millions of years to form and therefore petroleum is also considered to be a non-renewable energy source.
Petroleum is formed by hydrocarbons (a hydrocarbon is a compound made up of carbon and hydrogen) with the addition of certain other substances, primarily sulphur. Petroleum in its natural form when first collected is usually named crude oil, and can be clear, green or black and may be either thin like gasoline or thick like tar.