Petroleum hydrocarbons have been known and used by civilizations for thousands of years. Several oil-producing regions throughout the world, such as in the Middle East, have been known for centuries. The industry of providing petroleum as fuel for lamps was described by Marco Polo in 1291. Early seafarers used the asphalt associated with the world’s natural oil seeps as a means to caulk and waterproof their sailing vessels. Since the development of the internal combustion engine, petroleum has become the energy of choice for transportation and many other applications, including use as an ingredient for many materials commonly used today.