Tuesday, July 15, 2008


New Scientist: To put up an oil rig, follow that clam (Hat tip: Seth)

Razor clams retreat rapidly into the sand when threatened, making them elusive prey. The clams move with ease into muddy silt and gravelly sand, despite being able to exert a force only one-tenth that required for a person to push a clam shell into the sand. Winter dug up some clams to observe their uncanny burrowing ability, and then built a "roboclam" that is able to burrow into the sand by mimicking their action.

"That's what got the oil industry interested," says Hosoi. If the clam's technique can be replicated mechanically, it could prove ideal for anchoring offshore rigs in the soft seabed of the Gulf of Mexico and other oil-rich waters around the world.

So how do the clams do it? A slowed-down video of a clam digging offers some clues. The clam first braces itself by opening its long shell, then extends its muscular foot forward. Then it partly closes its shell and backs off, which temporarily loosens the sediment in front. The clam then darts forward, gaining ground in the process.

The roboclam is one of several ongoing MIT projects being sponsored by energy multinational Chevron to the tune of $6.5 million over the next five years – it is also partially funded by Bluefin Robotics of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Chevron's motivation grows more obvious with every hike in oil prices. The industry is hoping that sooner or later that the ban on offshore drilling will be lifted. Last month, both US president George Bush and presidential candidate John McCain advocated lifting the ban, as did Florida governor Charlie Crist, whose state has large offshore oil reserves. ...

"As we move to deeper water everything becomes harder and vastly more expensive," says Owen Oakley, a consultant with the research arm of Chevron. The high pressures and low temperatures at depths greater than 2500 metres will require more robust equipment and better communications. So the order-of-magnitude leap in digging efficiency demonstrated by the razor clam would be of great benefit to anchoring systems, which are heavy and costly to deploy.

The roboclam will be tested in the field this autumn. Hosoi admits the roboclam may not scale up to oil-rig proportions, but even so it could be used to anchor and move smaller pieces of equipment on the seabed. The industry is interested enough to keep funding the work. "These are not people worried about the end of oil," she says.
Also here.


Anaconda said...


Whether the technology described in the post will bear fruit, time will tell.

But the larger issue is that technololgy research & development of new methods and techniques to reach difficult crude oil deposits is racing ahead at break neck speed.

Deep-drilling, and particularly, deepwater deep-drilling demands technical innovation.

Does Abiotic Oil demand new technology?

You bet.

Because crude oil is found in so many more places than "fossil" theory ever thought to even look. Frankly, the technolgy is not simply to reach the "hard to get" oil, but to also do it as economically as possible.

That's the nature of the beast -- even if it's just a clam.

All this is great for the oil field services industry and the oil industry in general.

Develop a "better mouse trap" and you'll have customers knocking at your door -- early in the morning!

Technology innovations have spurred the American economy from the very beginning.

Benjamin Franklin wasn't just a scientist -- he was an inventor.

The 'Founding Fathers' wrote provisions for patenting inventions right into the Constitution -- that's how strongly they felt about technological advancement and that inventors should receive the fruits of their labor.

It's still true today.

Whether it's roboclams or piles of "clams" for a 'breakthrough' technology, America shines when she is allowed to put her productive energies to work.

Benjamin Franklin, and all the inventors that followed: I solute you!

Abiotic Oil depends on technical innovation -- that's a good thing.

Oil geologists, who maintain antiquated notions like "fossil" theory, ought to be "tarred and feathered" -- another early American Tradition that needs to make a comeback.

I got the Abiotic tar.

Who's got the feathers!

The American financial community if they're smart.

Anaconda said...


Look at the upper left-hand corner of your screen.

See that picture with the caption "A Volcanic Oil Field" with the beautiful oil drilling plafform with the profile of a volcano on the misty morning horizon?

Abiotic Oil means it's 'morning in America'.

If only the politicans would get out of the way -- the industry can grab the brass ring.

For you older folks, remember the intro for the Six Million Dollar Man:

"...We have the technology, we can rebuild him, faster, stronger, better than before..."

That's the American oil industry with American technology -- using Abiotic principles.

Get with the program or get out of the way.

Anaconda said...


Review the side-bar under Volcanic Oil & Gas, see the listings: Maui, Kupe, Kupe Satellite Fields, Pohokura. These are all examples of oil being produced from fields on the 'flanks' of volcanic islands.

And, of course, see the side-bar under Indonesian Oil.

You can't get away from volcanoes in that island archipelago.

Is it challenging?

You bet.

Is it Abiotic?

Without question.

Is it the key to winning the hearts & minds of Americans and the rest of the world that oil is Abiotic.

Yes, I'm serious as a heart attack.

Put volcanoes & oil together in the mind of the average person and they understand, like a light bulb turned on above their head, that the Earth is not running out of oil anytime soon.

That's a good thing and its the honest to God's truth.

That's what you call an unbeatable combination.

OilIsMastery said...

Hey Anaconda, can you link me the Namibia methane links so I can add them at left? Thanks =)

Quantum_Flux said...

That is cool! Such a digging tool could potentially be of use in everyday things too, like construction work or gardening.

Anaconda said...

To OilIsMastery:
Here is one of the links you requested:

Rising methane gas bubbles form massive hydrate layers at the seafloor,

But I know there is a photo somewhere on the internet because I saw it, hope maybe you can find it -- it goes well with the methane cloud links you already have.

OilIsMastery said...

Thanks Anaconda, let's see if we can dig up that picture...=)

Anaconda said...

Hyper link:

Rising methane gas bubbles form massive hydrate layers at the seafloor, . Off the Namibian coast (South-West Africa) huge underwater plumes of methane have been released.

Another look: METHANE CATASTROPHE (Continental Margin Methane Release). A satellite photo is included.

This second article is a review of methane releases all over the world and back through time as well.

There have been large methane releases down through Earth's history.

You make the call: Abiotic?

Remember: "Any notion which might suggest that hydrocarbon molecules spontaneously evolve in the regimes of temperature and pressure characterized by the near-surface of the Earth, which are the regimes of methane creation and hydrocarbon destruction, does not even deserve consideration." -- Emmanuil B. Chekaliuk, 1968

How much better understanding of our world would mankind have if Abiotic Principles were the accepted norms of the scientific community?