A non-biologic origin for petroleum -- things like natural gas and crude oil -- has long been pushed by a dedicated fringe of geologists and geochemists, most of them from the old USSR, where the idea was first forcelfully expounded in the 1950s.
Western oil professionals mostly scoffed at the idea. After all, nearly all the petroleum ever found had been found operating under the assumption that what went into the oil had once been alive and had lived in certain environmental areas (such as shallow seas).
Now there is a new paper -- in Nature Geoscience (abstract
) no less -- that claims to have discovered how the non-biological origin (abiogenic) of petroleum occurs. Apart from advancing an esoteric argument, what this means is that petroleum need not be a finite resource. Should the experiment be able to predict where petroleum is found, we will have practically unlimited amounts of oil and natural gas.
From Science Daily
[...] Together with two research colleagues, Vladimir Kutcherov has simulated the process involving pressure and heat that occurs naturally in the inner layers of the earth, the process that generates hydrocarbon, the primary component in oil and natural gas.
According to Vladimir Kutcherov, the findings are a clear indication that the oil supply is not about to end, which researchers and experts in the field have long feared.
He adds that there is no way that fossil oil, with the help of gravity or other forces, could have seeped down to a depth of 10.5 kilometers in the state of Texas, for example, which is rich in oil deposits. As Vladimir Kutcherov sees it, this is further proof, alongside his own research findings, of the genesis of these energy sources – that they can be created in other ways than via fossils. This has long been a matter of lively discussion among scientists. [....]
If true, this upends a century of what geologists -- myself included -- have been taught about how petroleum is formed and where it should be found. This would be an unbelievable scientific breakthrough.
Which is sort of why I don't see it panning out. It's one thing to determine that petroleum is capable of being formed under the crust of the Earth, but quite another to use that knowledge to find abiogenic oil. The biligenic theory of petroleum formation has explained very well how and where oil is created and found.
Labels: Abiogenic oil, Natural Gas, peak-oil, Petroleum, Science