It is not known exactly when humankind first used petroleum. It is known, however, that ancient peoples worshipped sacred fires that were fuelled by natural gas seeping to the surface through pores and cracks. It is also known that asphalt, a very viscous form of petroleum, was used to waterproof boats and heat homes as early as 6,000 BC. Asphalt was also used as an embalming age nt for mummies and in the construction of the Egyptian pyramids around 3,000 BC. Petroleum’s usefulness, so it seems, was recognized from the very beginnings of civilization. Petroleum’s importance to humankind took a giant leap in the late 1800’s when it replaced coal as the primary fuel for the machines of the industrial revolution. In today’s industrialized society, petroleum means power. It provides the mechanical power to run machines and industries and also the political power that comes from being able to shut down the machines and industries of those who depend on you for their oil supply. Today, petroleum remains our primary source of energy, and today, the province of Newfoundland is preparing to become an important player in the Canadian oil industry. A number of large oil and natural gas fields were discovered offshore Newfoundland and Labrador during the 1970’s and 1980’s and more discoveries are expected to be made with further drilling.