Monday, December 22, 2008

Oil's Origin Revisted

Robert Matthews: Oil’s origins revisited.

Once upon a time, clever people scared themselves by trying to predict the end of the world. Sir Isaac Newton’s best estimate, for example – recently uncovered in archived manuscripts – was some time in the year 2060 [Yet more Newtonian idiocy].

Today smart people seem intent on scaring all of us by trying to predict an event no less apocalyptic for modern economies: the arrival of “peak oil”, after which output of crude oil falls into terminal decline.

Last week it was the turn of Fatih Birol, chief economist to the International Energy Agency (IEA), who argued that conventional crude output could plateau in 2020. How seriously we should take this is anyone’s guess. Only last month, the IEA itself was claiming the turning point would be 2030 – 10 years later than its current estimate. With Opec having just imposed its largest-ever cut in oil production, the IEA may well have to issue another estimate next month.

Like predictions of the Final Trump, attempts to guess when oil will run out have a long and sorry history. In 1874, the chief geologist of Pennsylvania, then America’s leading oil-producing state, estimated the nation only had enough of the stuff to last around four years. Nowadays, there seem to be almost as many views as experts, with some claiming peak oil may have been passed some years ago and others – as this newspaper reported recently – insisting it lies far in the future.

In the end, all the arguments centre on simple supply and demand: is there enough exploitable oil in the ground to meet projected needs? So far the ingenuity of petroleum engineers has kept the black gold flowing through advances in the technology of finding and extracting oil. But it seems obvious that it must run out eventually; after all, there’s no more of the stuff being made deep underground. Or is there?

According to the textbooks, oil is the product of 150 to 200 million- year-old fossilised remains of marine organisms being transformed by the combined effect of bacterial action, heat and pressure. But according to some scientists, there may be other sources of oil, created by different means, which remain undiscovered simply because no one expects to find them.

During the 1950s, a team led by the Soviet geologist Dr Nikolai Kudryavtsev of the All-Union Geological Research Institute pointed out that crude oil is sometimes found at sites with no obvious connection to fossilised organisms – such as the Siljan Ring structure of central Sweden, where tar and oil seep out of pure crystalline granite.

According to Dr Kudryavtsev and his colleagues, these puzzling discoveries suggest that oil can also be formed in the absence of living organisms – for example, from hydrocarbons trapped inside the Earth during its formation around 4.5 billion years ago.


Louis Hissink said...

The issue reduces down to how the kerogens in oilshales, etc, are formed. These deposits are used as the source rocks, via subduction, to produce "oil".

How is kerogen, as observed in unmetamorphosed, sediments produced from biological detritus?

No glibness please

Quantum_Flux said...

Louis, how is it not? Perhaps that is a loaded question, but perhaps it can be addressed with plenty of glib too.

You see, Sasquatch has a colon made out of diamonds and a belly made out of molybdenum, and he likes to drink jet fuel with his charcoal.

Anaconda said...

LH: "How is kerogen, as observed in unmetamorphosed, sediments produced from biological detritus?"

QF: "... how is it not?

It not a loaded question; it's a straightforward and easy question: "Kerogen", is derived from heavy hydrocarbons, atomic chemical structure, C215H333, formed from serpentization of periodites in the deep crust and other processes in the shallow mantle, too.

The question still stands: How is kerogen formed from organic detritus?

Although, the form of the question assumes "source rocks" of kerogen are the origin of oil, it's not the "source", but rather one type of hydrocarbon deposit, also, scientific evidence derived from observation and measurement does not support the contention "subduction" exists to carry kerogen anywhere other than where it was originally deposited.

Subduction exists, if at all, on a very small-scale, limited basis.

Hydrothermal waters (possibly supercritical water) will permeate kerogen deposits, dissolving the hydrocarbons cracking the heavy hydrocarbon into lighter hydrocarbons.

But, also, hydrothermal water in an abiotic process (possibly supercritical water) can bring a slurry solution of trace metals and hydrocarbons, including heavy hydrocarbons, these will end up being deposited as kerogen, while the lighter hydrocarbon volatiles can keep rising or disperse.

Please, how is kerogen made from organic detritus?

To say, "How is it not?" is to dodge the question.

As they say in the deep Southern swamps, "That dog just won't hunt no more."

OilIsMastery said...

Tassos, S.T., Hydrocarbons in the Context of a Solid, Quantified, Growing and Radiating Earth, AAPG Confex, Nov 2007

Anaconda said...

UPDATE: McMoRan Exploration Finds Four Oil "Pay Zones" at over 30,000 feet deep

The Oil Is Mastery website posted on June 13, 2008: McMoRan, Druckenmiller Seek To Break Well Record, "June 12 (Bloomberg) -- McMoRan Exploration Co. and an energy firm backed by hedge fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller plan to extend a Gulf of Mexico well abandoned last year by Exxon Mobil Corp. to 35,000 feet (10,670 meters), which would surpass the record held by Chevron Corp."


"At such depths, pipes and drill bits can disintegrate or collapse because of high pressure and temperatures that approach 600 degrees Fahrenheit (316 Celsius)."

Editorial note: TheCoalMan, a commenter, on this website, claiming to be an oil geologist stated there were no oil deposits with temperatures approaching 600 degrees Fahrenheit because it violated the "oil window" corollary of "fossil" theory. reports at their Americas section(Exploration discoveries): "McMoRan Exploration logged four potential pay zones in the Miocene Rob-L below 30,067 ft in its Blackbeard well in the US Gulf of Mexico , targeting a 35,000-ft TD. Bottomhole pressure is more than 25,000 psi in the well, which is located in South Timbalier Block 168 in 70 ft of water, 115 mi southwest of New Orleans. The company says the reserves could be 2-4 billion boe. McMoRan operates with 32.3% working interest along with Plains Exploration & Production Co. (35%) and Energy XXI USA Inc. (20%)."

This is the same drill hole as reported by Bloomberg and posted, here, on Oil Is Mastery.

(Bloomberg) June 12, "McMoRan reached a depth of 31,943 feet at its South Timbalier Block 168 No. 1 well, formerly known as Blackbeard, the company said today in a statement. That was 1,876 feet deeper than Exxon drilled before it gave up on the natural-gas project in 2006 and handed control to McMoRan last year."

The "Blackbeard" well.

This is confirmation of oil deposits deeper than 30,000 feet TVD in the Gulf of Mexico, and while the temperatrue of the oil deposit is not cited in the report, it can be inferred that the temperature of the oil deposit is as suggested in the June 12th Bloomberg report.

The water depth at the well site is 70 feet, so over 30,000 feet deep below the surface or "mud line" is where oil was found.

This blows a hole in "fossil" theory's "oil window" because of the depth of the "pay zones" and their temperature and pressure. Pressure is the key to maintaining hydrocarbons under such extreme temperatures.

The fact that a competitor of ExxonMobil took over where ExxonMobil had given up and found 2-4 billion barrels of oil is good for the oil industry (if leaving egg on the face of ExxonMobil).

The confirmation of oil deposits in this well is not only good for McMoRan Exploration, as a huge investment and risk was incurred, but also for Abiotic Oil theory.

Can any oil geologist explain how oil gets so deep according to "fossil" theory?

The proof for Abiotic Oil theory is where the oil industry is finding the oil.