My barrel runneth over

Society is addicted to crude oil and natural gas. These two energy sources are the most important grease for the wheels of the global economy. And one of the best places to view this dependency first-hand is in Houston, Texas. A Graphic Novel from the Heart of the Oil Industry.

Illustrations: Tim Dinter


leg 4  ■  Atlanta ➡ Houston  ■  1,300 km  ■  Arrival 10.11.2015, 9:30 a.m.  ■  Travel time 54 hrs  ■  25°C  ■  Total distance 29,000 km

Houston is known around the world for two things in particular: space flight and oil. Along with NASA’s Space Center the city hosts myriad energy traders, refineries and chemical plants. So it’s no surprise that the oil industry is among Houston’s most important industrial sectors, employing tens of thousands of people.



Crude oil, the principle global energy source, is the most important resource for industrial societies—with a multitude of uses. Oil remains indispensable for generating electricity and heat, and serves as the fuel for almost all means of transport. In other uses, the chemical industry, for instance, transforms oil into synthetic materials.


Crude oil is first run through Houston’s refineries and processed—purified, distilled and/or cracked—before usable products can be made from it, including natural gas, asphalt and petroleum.



Safety first! These facilities are essential for the economy, because without oil there would be limited electricity and no gasoline. Moreover, leaks or explosions would create major environmental damage.


 How can operating companies increase safety?




TÜV SÜD is a safety services provider for the chemical, oil and gas industries. In Houston, for example, employees carry out regular inspections to ensure that no cracks or leaks crop up in the pipelines, tanks and pressurized containers at refineries and processing plants.

Using nondestructive testing, TÜV SÜD specialists regularly inspect the relevant sections of the plant. They always know exactly which components are critical for safety.


Fireproof clothing, dosimeter and Geiger counter are compulsory, since the nondestructive tests require the use of special cameras with radioactive material. These can penetrate welding seams and thereby allow conclusions to be made about their quality.


Inspection complete, all systems are go. The pipelines are in excellent condition.



TÜV SÜD is a partner for safety, and everyone benefits: the operators of refineries and chemical facilities as well as the people who live in the immediate vicinity.

In the Pipe

Safety at the heart of the oil industry