Monday, October 1, 2007

The Lies Of Richard Heinberg

In the The Abiotic Oil "Controversy", Richard Heinberg states:

the temperatures at depths below about 15,000 feet are high enough (above 275 degrees F) to break hydrocarbon bonds. What remains after these molecular bonds are severed is methane, whose molecule contains only a single carbon atom. For petroleum geologists this is not just a matter of theory, but of repeated and sometimes costly experience: they speak of an oil “window” that exists from roughly 7,500 feet to 15,000 feet, within which temperatures are appropriate for oil formation; look far outside the window, and you will most likely come up with a dry hole or, at best, natural gas only.
That paragraph is simply wrong in so many ways it's hard to know where to begin. According to Transocean, they have succesfully drilled oil wells 30,189 feet true vertical depth below the mudline in over 4000 feet of water. This is far below the 15,000 foot limit claimed by Heinberg. And no Mr. Heinberg, hydrocarboon bonds do not break apart below 15,000 feet. That is a lie.

InfoGulf.Com via Offshore Mag: Exploration and Development Below 15,000 feet TVD.

For exploration greater than 15,000 ft TVD on the shelf during the period 2003-2005, 115 wellbores (45 in 2003, 41 in 2004, and 29 in 2005) were drilled by 35 operators.

Those wells were drilled at least 2 years ago. We are finding oil much deeper now.

Also see: The Lies of Kenneth Deffeyes.


Anaconda said...

Your information is good. I have been reseaching abiotic oil for a couple of months. You have most of the information right here.

This is the first blog I've come across focussing on abiotic oil and its financial implications. Science and investment go hand in hand.

This is a good post because Heinberg is clearly caught in an inconsistency with the facts out in the Gulf of Mexico. Technological advancemnt has shown him up.

I share your conclusion that the overall evidence for abiotic oil is strong. The deep ocean drilling is particularly good evidence, because that's where we actually see the oil industry taking action that is consistent with the presence of abiotic oil.

As many people as possible need to see this blog and the evidence for abiotic oil. I urge people to watch the Transocean video on the link. That represents billions of Dollars of investemt in an oil seach strategy consistent with abiotic oil.

Most of the land based deep-drilling is in Russia, which again is consistent with their development of abiotic oil theory. Although, you point out deep-drilling in California and China as well.

And, as you laid it out, the successful deep-drilling contradicts some basic contentions of the peak oil crowd.

To refute this evidence showing the "oil window" is a fallacy, requires a tortuous chain of logic. I know "fossil" fuel proponets say, the oil has been "pushed" or "carried" to a deeper depth than where it formed, but we're talking 10,000 feet deeper, or more. That's a substanial distance, and add in Heinberg's contention oil turns to methane at any deeper level and Heinberg's credibility crumbles.

My thinking is that peakers are back on their heels at this point.

If they respond at all, they avoid the science, attack the messenger personally, and repeat the mantra.

I appreciate your work.

Anaconda said...

In science, a paradigm is the accepted scientific theory for a particular natural phenonenom. Once a paradigm has been established, it can be very difficult to change or "shift".

The current paradigm for the origin of petroleum is the fossil theory. Almost all petroleum geologists are steeped in this paradigm. To accept any other theory would be the equivalent of stating the "Earth revolves around the Sun" before Copernicus and Galileo had promulgated and proved that fact (even then there were holdouts).

A paradigm shift in science occures only when conventional thinking can no longer be stretched to explain new discoveries and substantiated evidence contrary to the current paradigm.

Deep oil is just such a discovery of evidence contary to fossil theory. This post lays out in stark relief the failure of fossil theory to explain deep oil.

As time goes on, and more discoveries are made of deep oil in various geologic environments (continental shelf, deep ocean, and on land in various localities), convincing explanations consistent with fossil theory will be harder to make.

Anaconda said...

Perry A. Fishcher, Editor (a link is available at the bottom of this blog at online magazines)

Seems that everybody is talking about the 15,000 foot depth as the magic mark. For the Peakers that's the bottom of the oil window: No reason to look for oil any deeper (move along, there's nothing to see). And for everybody else: It's the new frontier.

New frontier?

That's because both in the Gulf of Mexico and 180 miles off the coast of Brazil oil has been found at or below 15,000 feet under the floor of the ocean (23,000 for the Gulf of Mexico and 16,000 for the Brazilian find).

As Mr. Fischer stated it in his editorial, "confirming the world is virtually unexplored in well depths below 15,000 ft." Mr. Fischer subsequently referred to "Brazil's recently discovered Ghawar-sized group of oil fields."


For folks uninitiated, Ghawar is the holy grail, the largest oil field in the world located in Saudi Arabia.

Think of that for a moment... In a non-descript location, in one of the first deep-drills, a Ghawar-sized oil field was found. This at a depth location that is virtually unexplored. How many Ghawars are there below 15,000 feet deep?

The possible answer makes a deepwater oilman feel giddy.

And, it make a Peaker feel absolutely gloomy.

Afterall, Peakers said there wasn't oil deeper than 15,000 feet deep and that there couldn't be oil deeper than 15,000 feet deep.

Now we have a Ghawar-sized oil field slightly below 15,000 feet under the ocean's floor.

Most of today's producing oil fields are shallower than 8,000 feet deep.

What does this mean?

There is a phenomenon in oil field geology known as Koukryavtsev's Rule. In areas where giant oil fields are located, oil is rich through all layers of rock, or geologic strata, down all the way to the bedrock, and often below bedrock itself.

(Seismic imaging has located oil trapping geologic formations below basalt.)

All this points to the existence of huge amounts of oil. And the fact that there are giant swaths of virgin oil prospecting territory: Off-shore, but also on land as well. These amounts of oil are consistent with only one theory: The abiotic origin of oil.

And to think the deepest identifiable fossil was found 7,382 feet below the floor of the North Sea. Kinda makes a person think something else is at work, here.

Anaconda said...

Energy Bulletin,
The 'Abiotic Oil' Controversy,
Richard Heinberg, October 6, 2004
(linked on left hand side board and can be Googled)


Richard Heinberg is a Peaker that has been promoting "Peak" oil for years. So can anything he says about abiotic oil theory be taken at face value?

Here are two quotes from Heinberg in the above referenced article:

"What if oil were in fact virtually inexhaustible -- would this be good news?"

Heinberg goes on to answer his own question:

"Not in my view. It is in my opinion that the discovery of oil was the greatest TRAGEDY in HUMAN HISTORY."

The greatest tragedy?

Almost every advance in human history has downsides, but oil has increased our material well being in countless ways. Too many to count. But Heinberg's mindset animates many of the intellectuals behind "Peak" oil.

No doubt many "Peakers" silently nod their heads in agreement to Heinberg's statement.

Taken to its fullest implication, this is Luddite philosophy to the extreme.

Does anybody believe that a man who holds the above views can be objective about a theory, which would threaten his belief in "Peak" oil?

And, this is from a leader in their movement. Is there any wonder why demonstrated science carries so little weight among them unless it justifies their quasi-religous beliefs?

Anaconda said...


Of course, Heinberg's article was meant to put down rebellion in the ranks of "Peak" oil supporters. Heinberg even admits he would rather not have to address the issue at all. But his "flock" was startled and they had to be calmed down, reduced to their previous passive acceptance of "Peak" oil.

Therefore, Heinberg rolls out his distortions:

Heinberg claims that "A small group of mostly Russian scientists...have held out for an abiotic oil theory." Wrong, numerous, respected, and important Russian scientists in all scientific disciplines were involved in developing the abiotic theory, supported at the highest levels by the Soviet state (an energy sector, Russian equivalent to the Manhatten Project). And, in turn, abiotic theory was used to propel today's Russia into the largest oil producer in the world.

Heinberg mentions evidence of methane in Mars' atmosphere, but would rather point to it as evidence of past life on Mars.

Heinberg seems to give more credibility to life on Mars than abiotic oil, here, on earth. What does Heinberg make of the current knowledge that oceans of methane are on Saturn's moon Titan?

Heinberg acknowledged methane vents from mid-ocean ridges, but contends it amounts to very little, saying that cows fart more methane. Of course, this totally ignores the huge deposits of methane hydrates embedded in the sea foor all over the world.

Heinberg acknowledges U.S. Depart. of Energy estimates of huge deposits of methane 60 to 120 miles deep in the mantel, but never ventures that this may work it's way to the surface, as evinced by the huge deposits of methane hydrates on the sea floor. Heinberg is oblivious to that logical conclusion.

To make several different stabs at methane, as Heinberg does, but not tell the readers of the huge deposits of methane hydrate, which have been known about for decades, on the sea floor, is willfully misleading the readers.

Heinberg makes use of bio-markers in his case, but totally mistates what the evidence is and doesn't even attempt a goodfaith reportage of J.F. Kenney's excellent, "Dismissal of Claims of Biological Connection for Natural Petroleum," which can be directly linked from the left hand side column under Science of Abiogenic Petroleum Origin.

Almost all proponents of "fossil" theory, when they argue "bio-markers" mistake the evidence. "Bio-markers" aren't little micro-organisms which make up the crude oil, rather, there are similarities on a molecular level, but still distinct differences, of which, J.F. Kenney does a better job than I could to describe these differences and why they dispel the "bio-marker" argument.

Heinberg never comes to grips with other evidence. Particularly, inorganic markers present in crude oil like Diamondoids, helium, and trace minerals that are present in the mantel, but almost non-existent in the crust except as found in crude oil.

Heinberg puts out the "How can it get from the mantel to the crust?" argument. Please see the post on this blog, The Lies of Colin Campbell, October 4, 2007, comment #3, for a forceful answer to this line of argument.

It's interesting that while Heinberg makes oblique reference to J.F. Kenney's argument that the Second Law of Thermodynamics does not allow a low potential energy chemical molecule like organic detritus to convert to a high potential energy chemical molecule like petroleum in the low pressure, low temperature crust, Heinberg never attempts to explain the concept. It's understandable, because that concept by itself disproves the "fossil" theory of oil origin.

But this is par on Heinberg's course. Pick whatever low hanging fruit exists and hope the readers don't see through the flim-flam, and the issue goes away.

The truth never "goes away." The truth will always exist.

The existence of abiotic oil will never go away.

Anaconda said...


Heinberg states: "The assertion that all oil is abiotic requires extraordinary support, becasue it must overcome abundant evidence...[and] a chain of well-understood processes that have been demonstrated in principle under laboratory conditions."

Actually, rival scientific theories start equally at the same "starting line" and have the same burden of proof.

That's the problem. Laboratory conditions for oil geologists may mean heating "kerogen" to see if oil is excreted. That constitutes the laboratory experiment which "proves" oil is produced from organic detritus.

Yes, heating some bitumen and when oil is excreted, saying, "aha! that proves oil is from organic detritus." That qualifies as the "experiment" oil geologists rely on for verification of their theory.

"Kerogen" is cited as a precursor of oil and offered as proof that oil is a result of organic detritus cooking in sedimentary rock formations, but there is little explanation of what is "kerogen." Just that if you heat kerogen it produces oil. I find that unpersuasive because there is no proof that kerogen proceeds oil, rather than being a by-product of oil. In other words, a substance that is another form of petroleum, so that when it's heated oil is excreted.

When you look at all the evidence, it's my opinion that at present abiotic oil theory has more evidence on its side of the scale.

Anaconda said...


"And laboratory experiments have shown repeatedly that petroleum is in fact produced from organic matter under the conditions to which it is ASSUMED (my emphasis) to have been subjected over geological time."

What laboratory experiments? You mean the "lab experiments" where somebody heated a piece of rock and oil dripped out of it? And that's supposed to prove anything?

But if you "assume" it proves something -- then that's all you need. Dumb is the word that describes that reasoning process.

"...[M]ost geologists ASSUME (my emphasis) that the Russian abiotic oil hypothsis, which dates to the era prior to the advent of modern plate tectonics theory, is an anachronism."

This is a completely boneheaded statement.

First, both fossil and abiotic theory, "dates to the era prior to the advent of modern plate tectonic theory." The "fossil" hypothesis dates from 1757, when scientific knowledge was archaic and rudimentary. People where still drinking 'rock' oil for their health in 1757! The "fossil" hypothesis is the older of the two theories.

Second, Tectonic Plate, Continental Drift theory became widely accepted in the mid-sixties, although it had been around a half-century before that. (Being ridiculed by the scientific community, I might add. Sound familiar?) So, while the basics of modern abiotic theory had been promulgated before the mid 60's, much of the final work and development of the theory came after general accptance of tectonic theory. So, the Russian scientists finalized their theory with the tectonic concept at hand.

Actually, a lot of the basic ideas of modern abiotic theory anticipated tectonic plate theory principles: Such as deep faulting and fissures around the the continental edges and where continents collide in boundary areas. And, that deep-earth "fluids and gases" would well up from around the tectonic edges.

Heinberg's article is not only an indictment of himself, but of the geologists who critiqued the article prior to its publication. Such is the sad state of affairs in the petro-geological community.

At this time, it appears that the deepwater, deep-drilling sector of the oil industry is leaving behind much of the geologic community.

Anaconda said...

CORRECTION: To Comment #5, Taking Heinberg to Task.

"[Heinberg]... totally mistates what the evidence is...[of bio-markers]."

This statement needs to be corrected. Heinberg correctly states the evidence. He does correctly list a series of chemicals, "...porphyrins, isoprenoids, pristane..." that are present in oil. What he does is assume they "are related to bio-chemicals." That is the argument put forward by "fossil" theory geologists and advocates. What Heinberg doesn't do is refer to J.F. Kenney's analysis, which contradicts the "look-like/comes from" reasoning present in that assumption.

Again, it's urged to refer to J.F. Kenney's paper available, here, as a direct link.

Geologist said...

Anaconda are right.

driver3m said...

If you guys don't like Heinberg, then what about Durango Bill's oil analysis, which contains all kinds of respected oil industry analysis from Aramco, ASPO, Douglas Westwood, Exxon Mobil, and Petroleum Review, among others, which says essentially the same thing that Heinberg says?

According to all of these respected oil industry sources, we are running out of oil that is economically-recoverable, due to a massive increase in demand worldwide, which is projected to increase by another 50% or more in the next 15 years. We are on a clearly unsustainable growth course, one which floats less and less boats every day.

The question ought to be at what point will those without boats have enough of getting walked all over and take steps to sink the rest of the boats??? Drilling for oil at depths of over 15,000 or 20,000 feet is clearly not an affordable course, nor is the practice of burning more and more oil sustainable from a world environmental protection and carbon dioxide generation perspective too.

The International Energy Agency is also well respected, and their scientists have said just in the last few months that 75% of known world oil reserves will be depleted by 2035 at the current rate of growth in consumption, which obviously is in great opposition to what this website contends.

We are rapidly approaching an oil supply crisis. Are you prepared for life without petroleum?