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Old 12-29-2010, 12:10 PM   #1
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Default Abiogenic Petroleum Origin

Articles discussing whether oil is produced via organic decomposition or through other processes within the Earth's magma.
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Old 12-29-2010, 12:22 PM   #2
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Default Abiogenic Petroleum Origin

Reproduced in accordance with Wikimedia's Terms of Use.

Complete material can be found at this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenic_petroleum_origin

---------

Abiogenic petroleum origin is an alternative hypothesis to the prevailing theory of biological petroleum origin.


The abiogenic hypothesis argues that petroleum was formed from deep carbon deposits, perhaps dating to the formation of the Earth. Supporters of the abiogenic hypothesis suggest that a great deal more petroleum exists on Earth than commonly thought, and that petroleum may originate from carbon-bearing fluids that migrate upward from the mantle. The presence of methane on Saturn's moon Titan is cited as evidence supporting the formation of hydrocarbons without biology.


The biogenic theory for petroleum was first proposed by Georg Agricola in the 16th century and various abiogenic hypotheses were proposed in the 19th century, most notably by Alexander von Humboldt, the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev and the French chemist Marcellin Berthelot. Abiogenic hypotheses were revived in the last half of the 20th century by Russian and Ukrainian scientists and more interest was generated in the West by the publication in 1999 of The Deep Hot Biosphere by Thomas Gold. Gold cited the discovery of thermophile bacteria in the Earth's crust as new support for the postulate that these bacteria could explain the existence of certain biomarkers in extracted petroleum.[1]


Although the abiogenic hypothesis was accepted by some geologists in the former Soviet Union, most geologists now consider the abiogenic formation of petroleum scientifically unsupported.[2] Although evidence exists for abiogenic formation of methane and hydrocarbon gases within the Earth,[3][4] studies indicate they are not produced in commercially significant quantities (i.e. a median abiogenic hydrocarbon content in extracted hydrocarbon gases of 0.02%).[5] The abiogenic origin of petroleum has also recently been reviewed in detail by Glasby, who raises a number of objections, including that there is no direct evidence to date of abiogenic petroleum (liquid crude oil and long-chain hydrocarbon compounds).[2]
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Old 12-29-2010, 12:27 PM   #3
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More discussion per the OP.
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Old 12-29-2010, 12:38 PM   #4
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And the earth could be less than 10,000 years old!
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Old 12-29-2010, 02:26 PM   #5
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abiotic oil is not only plausible, it is the most likely source of oil.....

Hmmmm. there is a reason why natural gas and oil is commonly found together.

Let's see....

Methane, trapped within the earth during it's formation, under heat, pressure, and possibly bacteria, is converted into oil. Sounds plausible.

Organic debris, from billions of years of life, under heat and pressure and plate techtonics, is broken down into oil and methane.... Little harder to believe.

The biotic theory of oil came from the finding of fossils within coal. Coal is found relatively near the surface of the planet. It's almost never found deep within the crust.

Oil, and natural gas, on the other hand, is found deep within the crust.

Not believing in abiotic oil seems to be the more extreme position, if you ask me.
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Old 12-29-2010, 02:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pablo Escobar View Post
abiotic oil is not only plausible, it is the most likely source of oil.....

Hmmmm. there is a reason why natural gas and oil is commonly found together.

Let's see....

Methane, trapped within the earth during it's formation, under heat, pressure, and possibly bacteria, is converted into oil. Sounds plausible.

Organic debris, from billions of years of life, under heat and pressure and plate techtonics, is broken down into oil and methane.... Little harder to believe.

The biotic theory of oil came from the finding of fossils within coal. Coal is found relatively near the surface of the planet. It's almost never found deep within the crust.

Oil, and natural gas, on the other hand, is found deep within the crust.

Not believing in abiotic oil seems to be the more extreme position, if you ask me.
What are you basing "plausible" on. "Hmmm, that sounds good, I like it?"

Seems like, sounds like, feels good, are not valid arguments for either stance.
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Old 12-29-2010, 02:35 PM   #7
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There is no question the cosmos is full of hydrocarbons. We find them in comets. It is not at all unreasonable to conclude that hydrocarbons were included in the material that accreted to form our planet. The more thorny questions in regard to abiotic oil are:

- By what process are the very simple hydrocarbons found in the universe converted to the very complex hydrocarbons found in oil?

- If hydrocarbons are being 'cooked' deep in the crust, and the resulting crude is bubbling up through the strata to be trapped in impermeable layers, why has all the stuff not been cooked out of the crust long ago?

I believe I have an answer that addresses both of these questions. It is not something I read anywhere. It is just something that seems logical, even obvious to me. And my hypothesis is not abiotic.

The current biotic theory of oil postulates that the source of petroleum is biomass; primarily deposits from plant material built up in swamps and peat deposits (not dead dinosaurs); that was buried, compressed, heated and transformed in oil (and oil tar sands, oil shale and coal) deposits in the Earth's topmost layers of the planet's crust. That seems logical. Biomass accounts for the complexity of the hydrocarbons found in petroleum.

But those familiar with biology know that plants are not the only major source of biomass on the planet; perhaps not even the largest source. The other major source is bacteria. The biomass of live bacteria on this planet is roughly equal to and perhaps greater than the biomass of all the plants growing on our world. And unlike plants, the vast majority of that bacterial biomass lives underground; much of it *deep* underground. No matter how deep we drill into the crust, we always find bacteria growing there. It is amazing stuff, growing where there is no light, no air and ridiculous heat levels. We simply do not know how deep the stuff can grow, and there are astounding amounts of it down there.

So then, why, exactly, do we assume that only the biomass on the surface is cooked into petroleum? What about the staggering amount of bacterial biomass we know is growing deep in the Earth? If this is true, that could be the constantly renewing source of hydrocarbons deep in the Earth. It does not require plant material to be cooked for millions of years after being buried deeply enough. It is instead a constant ongoing process that has presumably been present and functioning for billions of years.

I just looked around on the web, and the only mention I found of bacteria in relation to the creation of petroleum in the crust was the idea that once simple hydrocarbons were cooked out of the crust, the bacteria living deep in the Earth then 'ate' these hydrocarbons, creating the complex hydrocarbons we know as petroleum. That is also an interesting hypothesis that would answer the questions posed.

Anyways, blindly assuming that all the biomass that created petroleum must be just about entirely ancient plant material, while at the same time assuming that the equally large and much deeper crustal bacterial population just disappeared or something seems quite retarded to me. Obviously, that massive amount of biomass must go somewhere. Some of it being cooked out of the Earth as petroleum seems as good a theory as the current one to my inexpert eye.

So what do you all think?
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Old 12-29-2010, 02:48 PM   #8
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an even more intriguing theory, which is just wacked enough it could be true, is the growing earth hypothesis.....

What if the major tectonic plates are not constantly submerging under each other? What if the earth is gradually growing in size?

What if at a certain gravity point, an interdimensional breach occurs and the bottom of a gravity well attacts/forms matter from an unknown process?

If true, and this matter is "created", it most likely is created in ratios that mimic the current ratios we see on an atomic chart.

Thus, this matter has no where to go but to make the earth grow from the inside out.

Science fiction, probably, but it does solve quite a few problems.
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Old 12-29-2010, 02:54 PM   #9
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PE:

I am not sure if you are joking, so I will treat that idea seriously for a moment....

As the Earth's mass increased, obviously gravity would likewise increase. From the bone densities of animals hundreds of millions of years ago, I do not see any evidence that they lived in a lower gravity world. I do not recall hearing of any geological evidence of that, either.

But I still think you are just pulling our leg, or making a pretty poor attempt at a reductio ad absurdum fallacy as an 'argument'.
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Old 12-29-2010, 03:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ought Six View Post
There is no question the cosmos is full of hydrocarbons. We find them in comets. It is not at all unreasonable to conclude that hydrocarbons were included in the material that accreted to form our planet. The more thorny questions in regard to abiotic oil are:

- By what process are the very simple hydrocarbons found in the universe converted to the very complex hydrocarbons found in oil?

- If hydrocarbons are being 'cooked' deep in the crust, and the resulting crude is bubbling up through the strata to be trapped in impermeable layers, why has all the stuff not been cooked out of the crust long ago?

I believe I have an answer that addresses both of these questions. It is not something I read anywhere. It is just something that seems logical, even obvious to me. And my hypothesis is not abiotic.

The current biotic theory of oil postulates that the source of petroleum is biomass; primarily deposits from plant material built up in swamps and peat deposits (not dead dinosaurs); that was buried, compressed, heated and transformed in oil (and oil tar sands, oil shale and coal) deposits in the Earth's topmost layers of the planet's crust. That seems logical. Biomass accounts for the complexity of the hydrocarbons found in petroleum.

But those familiar with biology know that plants are not the only major source of biomass on the planet; perhaps not even the largest source. The other major source is bacteria. The biomass of live bacteria on this planet is roughly equal to and perhaps greater than the biomass of all the plants growing on our world. And unlike plants, the vast majority of that bacterial biomass lives underground; much of it *deep* underground. No matter how deep we drill into the crust, we always find bacteria growing there. It is amazing stuff, growing where there is no light, no air and ridiculous heat levels. We simply do not know how deep the stuff can grow, and there are astounding amounts of it down there.

So then, why, exactly, do we assume that only the biomass on the surface is cooked into petroleum? What about the staggering amount of bacterial biomass we know is growing deep in the Earth? If this is true, that could be the constantly renewing source of hydrocarbons deep in the Earth. It does not require plant material to be cooked for millions of years after being buried deeply enough. It is instead a constant ongoing process that has presumably been present and functioning for billions of years.

I just looked around on the web, and the only mention I found of bacteria in relation to the creation of petroleum in the crust was the idea that once simple hydrocarbons were cooked out of the crust, the bacteria living deep in the Earth then 'ate' these hydrocarbons, creating the complex hydrocarbons we know as petroleum. That is also an interesting hypothesis that would answer the questions posed.

Anyways, blindly assuming that all the biomass that created petroleum must be just about entirely ancient plant material, while at the same time assuming that the equally large and much deeper crustal bacterial population just disappeared or something seems quite retarded to me. Obviously, that massive amount of biomass must go somewhere. Some of it being cooked out of the Earth as petroleum seems as good a theory as the current one to my inexpert eye.

So what do you all think?
ummm... no...

The problem with your postulation, o6, is that oil breaks down as temperature increases... you don't find oil deposits much below 30,000' because it's so hot that the oil cannot form into those exceptionally long molecules, it will break down into simpler compounds, like methane. Remember Jack 2, from a couple years ago? Deep water well, deep in the ground... when the oil hit the wellhead, it was measured @ 450°F-pretty danged hot stuff, and required special piping to handle it (most oil is around 150°F). So that's one strike against it...

Strike 2 is bacteria living deep underground... no doubt life is incredibly adaptable, as we've seen repeatedly, but I have never even heard of the idea of bacteria colonies deep underground, and further, bacteria converting methane (I'm presuming this) into far more complex hydrocarbons that get trapped under salt dome formations. Granted, we certainly don't know everything about how petroleum came into existence, but I have my doubts about bacteria colonies deep underground being the creators of petroleum-besides, how would bacteria stand the heat that far down (450-500°F)? In short, please cite something...

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Old 12-29-2010, 03:33 PM   #11
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There was a thread on that theory back at CE (but i don't think that went into oil).

I think i have a better point. The oil is very concentrated in places. If it was produced from bacteria in the ground everywhere why don't i have a well in my backyard?
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Old 12-29-2010, 04:21 PM   #12
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expanding_Earth

Not a made up arguement. Most likely science fiction. But for me it could be interesting....

Edit to add: Tesla even explored this arguement....
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Old 12-29-2010, 04:24 PM   #13
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p:
Quote:
"The problem with your postulation, o6, is that oil breaks down as temperature increases... you don't find oil deposits much below 30,000' because it's so hot that the oil cannot form into those exceptionally long molecules, it will break down into simpler compounds, like methane."
So the oil is formed at depths less than 30,000 feet. That is where all this bacteria *is*. How does that invalidate the theory? So far as I can see, it does not in any way.

================================================== =========

K:
Quote:
"I think i have a better point. The oil is very concentrated in places. If it was produced from bacteria in the ground everywhere why don't i have a well in my backyard?"
This is really basic geology. The oil is only trapped under impermeable layers that form a fold or dome. That is where the oil concentrates.
----------
Quote:
".... but I have never even heard of the idea of bacteria colonies deep underground...."
Google not working for you today?

This was the first result on an a search using the terms 'underground bacteria'.

http://www.planetary.org/news/2006/1...ving_Deep.html

================================================== =========

PE:

My apologies. That is so bizarre that I thought for sure you were just messin' with us.

Last edited by Ought Six; 12-29-2010 at 05:47 PM. Reason: Accidentally mixed together the responses from two different posters.
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Old 12-29-2010, 05:38 PM   #14
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The first argument was penguinzees not mine.

Bacterial life below is present but it isn't abundant and IIRC some species have very slow metabolism. I doubt they're a good source.

As to the second point: i think it helps if the surface below the layer is good for storing stuff but i don't know enough geology to know if we can test this (finding places which are sealed well, have the right rock underneath but still don't have any oil).

And a lot of historical oil fields are in places where organic material accumulated in the past.

Quote:
Ghawar Field

Ghawar occupies an anticline above a basement fault block dating to Carboniferous time, about 320 million years ago; Cretaceous tectonic activity, as the northeast margin of Africa began to impinge on southwest Asia, enhanced the structure. Reservoir rocks are Jurassic Arab-D limestones with exceptional porosity (as much as 35% of the rock in places), sourced from the Jurassic Hanifa formation, a marine shelf deposit of mud and lime with as much as 5% organic material (1% to 7% is considered good oil source rock). The seal is an evaporitic package of rocks including impermeable anhydrite.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghawar_Field

~ wikipedia, disclaimer posted above by leistb

Also check out the entry on Cantarell. The impact created a favorable condition in the rock , this was sealed but i bet their where tons of dead plants etc buried there.

Mainly stuff degrades so it's also more logical that the oil comes from surface plants buried before they decompose anyway. DReynolds posted a list of components found in oil which logically can only come from plants (there's no drive for them to form if they where assembled from simpler components leaking up.

Also gas is good at finding ways to escape while solids turn liquid if heated/pressurized enough. Do it again and you have gas.

I don't think we need an alternate theory of oil production.
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Old 12-29-2010, 05:45 PM   #15
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K:
Quote:
"I don't think we need an alternate theory of oil production."
Since we keep finding oil at deeper and deeper depths that challenge the whole biotic theory's parameters, actually we do. And if plant material was trapped below an impermeable layer, it may have provided nothing more than an excellent 'sponge' material to trap rising hydrocarbons from below.

I do not say that this is the case. I merely say that there are a lot of unanswered questions that are being actively explored. To abuse an AlGoreism, 'the science is *not* settled'.

================================================== =============

More:
Quote:
http://www.pnas.org/content/99/17/10976.long

Excerpt:

6. Discussion and Conclusions

The pressure of 30 kbar, at which the theoretical analyses of section 4 predicts that the H–C system must evolve ethane and heavier hydrocarbon compounds, corresponds to a depth of more than 100 km. The results of the theoretical analysis shown in Fig. 2 clearly establish that the evolution of the molecular components of natural petroleum occur at depth at least as great as those of the mantle of the Earth, as shown graphically in Fig. 4, in which are represented the thermal and pressure lapse rates in the depths of the Earth.

As noted, the theoretical analyses reported in section 4 describe the high-pressure evolution of hydrocarbons under the most favorable chemical conditions. The theoretical calculations for the evolution of hydrocarbons posited the presence of methane, the genesis of which must itself be demonstrated in the depths of the Earth consistent with the pressures required for the evolution of heavier hydrocarbons. Furthermore, the multicomponent system analyzed theoretically included no oxidizing reagents that would compete with hydrogen for both the carbon and any free hydrogen. The theoretical analysis assumed also the possibility of at least a metastable presence of hydrogen. Therefore, the theoretical results must be considered as the determination of minimum boundary conditions for the genesis of hydrocarbons. In short, the genesis of natural petroleum must occur at depths not less than ≈100 km, well into the mantle of the Earth. The experimental observations reported in section 5 confirm theoretical predictions of section 4, and demonstrate how, under high pressures, hydrogen combines with available carbon to produce heavy hydrocarbon compounds in the geochemical environment of the depths of the Earth.

Notwithstanding the generality and first-principles rigor with which the present theoretical analysis has used, the results of the theoretical analyses here reported are robustly independent of the details of any reasonable mathematical model. The results of this theoretical analysis are strongly consistent with those developed previously by Chekaliuk and Kenney (29–32) using less accurate formal tools. The analysis of the H–C system at high pressures and temperatures has been impeded previously by the absence of reliable equations of state that could describe a chemically reactive, multicomponent system at densities higher than such of its normal liquid state in ordinary laboratory conditions and at high temperatures. The first analyses used the (plainly inadequate) Tait equation (33); later was used the quantum mechanical Law of Corresponding States (34); more recently has been applied the single-fluid model of the SPHCT (31, 32). Nonetheless, all analyses of the chemical stability of the H–C system have shown results that are qualitatively identical and quantitatively very similar: all show that hydrocarbons heavier than methane cannot evolve spontaneously at pressures below 20–30 kbar.

The H–C system does not spontaneously evolve heavy hydrocarbons at pressures less than ≈30 kbar, even in the most favorable thermodynamic environment. The H–C system evolves hydrocarbons under pressures found in the mantle of the Earth and at temperatures consistent with that environment.

Quote:
http://drillinglab.mred.tuc.gr/Publications/56.pdf


Excerpts:


3rd AMIREG International Conference (2009): Assessing the
Footprint of Resource Utilization and Hazardous Waste
Management, Athens, Greece


Challenges for very deep oil and gas drilling - will there
ever be a depth limit?


V.C. Kelessidis

Department of Mineral Resources Engineering, Technical
University of Crete, Hania, Greece


ABSTRACT

The continuous and ever increasing demand for fossil fuels and
in particular oil and gas has pushed drilling and exploration
industry to drill in ultra deep waters (water depths more than
2000 m) with the wells drilled to depths in excess of more
than 7500 m. These wells are very expensive to drill and
complete with costs up to about $100 million. Reservoir
challenges are pore pressures that exceed 138 MPa beyond the
limit of some current logging tools while the temperatures
are not as extreme being around 125 degC. In this paper we
examine the challenges placed on drilling equipment,
critically review the state of the art on developing new tools
and techniques to withstand these high pressures and present
views about the potential depth limits for hydrocarbon
drilling. In addition, techniques and innovative tools to
address these challenges are presented. The abiotic theory of
hydrocarbon generation from the depths of earth is also
reviewed, based on prior and recent research findings, and
the implications of such a theory are critically discussed.
Whatever the origin of hydrocarbons, the challenges will be in
the very deep boreholes and ultra deep water levels, requiring
innovations and excellent teams from top notch professionals.
----------

6. THE ABIOTIC THEORY OF HYDROCARBON GENERATION

The general saying among oil well drillers is that oil is
where you find it, meaning that oil has been found in
traditional and non-traditional places. What of course is
considered traditional is that oil is found in sedimentary
rocks, very close to the surface in the beginning of the
century, while nowadays it may be found at considerable
depths, now reaching almost 9000 m from the surface. There are
of course finds in fractured basement rocks (metamorphic or
igneous rocks) from where they are produced (Sircar, 2004).
Batchelor and Gutmanis (2005) have compiled an extensive list
of fields producing hydrocarbons from basement rocks, although
most petroleum geologists dismiss them as being of
non-commercial value.

However, White Tiger, the oil field in Vietnam may prove them
wrong because it is an excellent example of production from
basement rock. The field currently produces 350.000 barrel
oil per day, expecting to produce overall 600 million barrels
(47 years of production at this pace). The granitic basement
rock is highly fissured (Fig. 8 ) with apparent permeabilities
ranging from a few mD to up to 464 mD (Chan et al., 2006). The
oil that is produced, however, has been characterized of
biogenic origin (Nemchenko et al., 2007) with migration from
underlying sedimentary rocks.

Of course, we find oil 'where it is', where it has remained
for ages, but how was it formed? Current belief is that oil is
of biotic origin, through accumulation of organic matter
(plankton, single cell organisms that floated on ocean
surface) and sedimentation followed by burial. For large
periods organic material has been under very high pressures
and temperatures, in the range of 130-150 degC, in a 'cooking
pot' and gradually transformed to petroleum. Because of its
lower density, it has migrated upwards and some surfaced and
was lost, while some has hit non-permeable layers (the seal)
and accumulated in the porous sedimentary rocks creating the
world's oil and gas fields.

There is, however, another school of thought, not very well
known until recent years, which is gaining, though, momentum.
It is the theory of abiotic (or abiogenic) origin of
petroleum, that hydrocarbons have been formed in the depths of
earth by reduction of CO2 and H2 gases in the presence of
metal catalysts (Gold and Soter, 1980; Kenney, 1994;
Krayushkin et al., 1994; Glasby, 2006; Wikipedia, 2009). The
consequences of course of such a theory, if true, could be
extraordinary, as earth's mantle becomes the inexhaustible
provider of the cheapest energy source on earth, by today's
standards, and shattering not only the oil-depletion myth but
also pointing out to oil-rich regions in places devoid as
prolific as before, because of belief of bio-

Figure 7: Dual drill string, from Reelwell.

Figure 8: Natural fractures in basement rock from White Tiger
field (from Chan et al., 2006).

Page 226 -- 3rd AMIREG Int'l Conf (2009)

genic origin. Alexandrovich Kudryavtsev (Kudryavtsev, 1951)
was the first to start the theory of abiotic generation of
hydrocarbons, in what has become the modern Russian-Ukrainian
theory of abyssal, abiotic petroleum (Kropotkin, 1986; Kenney
et al., 2002). However, Abbas (1996) starts the history as
early as 1877 by Mendeleev and provides a good overview as
well as pros and cons about the two points of view.

In principle, the abiotic theory states that under high
pressures (less than 5000 bar) and high temperatures (between
500 and 1500 degC) methane could be formed from reduced carbon
resulted from calcite. The process has been supported
theoretically, via thermodynamic analysis, and experimentally
(Kenney et al., 2002). Methane may also be formed from
volatile rich fluids resulting from partial melting of rocks
within earth's interior (National Academy Press, 2007).
Thermodynamics indicate that at 1300 K, CO2 and CO should be
the predominant carbon rich gases, while at lower temperatures
CH4 should be predominant (Eugster and Skippen, 1967), with
Symmonds et al., (1994) supporting the first argument by
measurements.

Strong support for this hypothesis is the fact that methane
and hydrocarbons are abundant in the outer solar system (Gold,
1979, 1984, 1985, 1993). There is reported evidence of abiotic
formation of complex organics from methane in Saturn's
satellite Titan's atmosphere (National Academy Press, 2007),
although it is stated that there may be no connection to
primitive earth, because at the low surface temperature of
Titan (at 46 K) all water is turned into ice. Methane, ethane
and acetylene have also been discovered in Comet C/1996 B2
Hyakutake (Mumma et al., 1996). The finding of very deep gas
reservoirs, down to almost 10000 m, with extremely high
success rates of more than 55%, has also been reported as
evidence of abiotic generation of hydrocarbons (Corsi, 2005).
Very recent works (Cathcart, 2007; Paropkari, 2008) have been
suggesting that we should be rethinking about oil exploration
strategies in view of the substantial evidence about abiotic
hydrocarbon origin. Kenney et al. (2002) analyzed
theoretically, via thermodynamic computations, the
possibilities for hydrocarbon generation at high pressures and
temperatures and showed that it is possible. They went on and
performed successful experiments, using a specially built
high pressure apparatus (Nikolaev and Shalimov, 1999) at
pressures of 50 kbar, temperatures to 1500 degC. Using only as
reagents solid iron oxide and 99.9% pure marble, wet with
triple distilled water, they were able to generate methane.
They reported that at pressures lower than 10 kbar only
methane was formed while at pressures greater than 30 kbar a
multi-component hydrocarbon mixture was formed including
methane, ethane, propane, n-alkanes as well as alkenes, in
distributions characteristic of natural petroleum. Scott et
al. (2004) have also reported in situ observations of
hydrocarbon generation via carbonate reduction at upper mantle
temperatures and pressures, forming methane from FeO,
CaCO3-calcite and water at temperatures ranging between 500
and 1500 degC and pressures between 50 and 110 kbar. The
authors were confident of the abiogenic theory of hydrocarbon
generation thus concluding that Earth's hydrocarbon budget is
much larger than it is currently thought.

Petroleum generation under hydrothermal conditions, with
certain metals or alloys used as catalysts, has been amply
demonstrated at lower temperatures and pressures. For e.g.
Horita and Bernt (1999) used a nickel-iron alloy, similar to
what could be found within earth's crust, to catalyze the
slow, under other conditions, reaction of methane generation
from dissolved bicarbonate, under hydrothermal conditions at
200 and 400 degC and 500 bar. Without the catalyst, no methane
was formed, concluding that abiogenic methane may be more
widespread than originally thought.

Proskurowski et al. (2008) suggested, through analysis of
components in hydrothermal oceanic vents that abiotic
synthesis in nature of hydrocarbon fluids may occur in the
presence of ultramafic rocks (which comprise mostly Earth's
mantle), water and moderate amounts of heat. On the other
hand, Konn et al. (2008) analyzing data from same and other
vents did not find conclusive evidence of the fact. He noted
that, although amounts of hydrocarbons attrib-

Page 227 -- 3rd AMIREG Int'l Conf (2009)

uted to abiogenic origin were found, their signature has been
difficult to characterize owing to the abundance of biogenic
material. This is not far from the findings of Robinson (1963)
who had noted at the time that the observed petroleum
composition cannot really be attributed to biological origin,
suggesting a primordial mixture to which bioproducts have been
added. Ji et al. (2008) also presented results of generating a
range of alcanes up to pentane, not only methane, from CO2 and
H2 in hydrothermal conditions with cobalt as catalyst at 300
degC and pressures as low as 300 bar. Szatmari (1989)
suggested the hypothesis of petroleum formation by
Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, which is distinct from the organic
and the inorganic coming from degassing theory of Gold.
Foustoukos and Seyfried (2004) also demonstrated the
acceleration of hydrocarbon production from CO2 and H2 with
the FischerTropsch reaction, using chromium and iron bearing
minerals as catalysts, at 390 degC and 450 bars. Recent reports
(Sherwood-Lollard et al., 2002) have identified traces of
abiotically derived hydrocarbons in Kidd Creek hard rock
mines. In the laboratory, abiotic synthesis of more complex
organic compounds has been reported in aqeous media (McCollom
et al., 1999).

Glasby (2006) gives a historical overview on the origin of
hydrocarbons. He dismisses both the Russian-Ukrainian theory
and the theory of gas degassing by Gold, as being non
thermodynamically sound. He does not discuss, however, the
Fischer-Tropsch type of reactions, pointed out above. Hence,
his work serves as a very good reference, but to the author's
opinion, the final arguments are not as strong as they should
have been. Interesting to note that he dismisses the Ukrainian
theory on the basis of better evidence for the origin of
higher hydrocarbons from organic matter, using better
techniques, and noting that the theory is even forgotten in
Ukraine, which is not true, as it has been recently
demonstrated (Kutcherov, 2007; Kitchka, 2007).

7. DISCUSSION

Humanity should be looking at all energy sources to cover
earth's energy budget, but we should not lose sight of the
fact that hydrocarbons play the most significant role in our
energy balance equation. Wells of the future will be
horizontal and multilateral wells with smart well technology,
meaning necessary hardware for producing when it is needed
while optimizing recovery (Rao, 2008), operated by top notch,
multidisciplinary people. As Robert Ryan, vice president of
global exploration at Chevron recently explained, 'the world
is full of resources the question is how we can apply
technology to make them energy resources" (Maksoud, 2009a). We
would add that we must do this while posing no threats to the
environment and maintaining sustainability.

The way forward will require "more creativity, more
innovation, and more integration" as mentioned by Ryan. There
was an interesting notion by Ryan, "Peak oil will be reached
when we reach peak technology, and peak technology will
determine when the world reaches peak energy" (Maksoud, 2009).
Thus, it is through technological advancement, ingenuity and
creativity and educating our people that we could extend the
oil depletion window. Of course, if the abiotic theory of oil
generation is true, then, the sky will be the limit and the
pressure will be on finding the oil, not on finding ways to
replace it.

8. CONCLUSIONS

An analysis has been presented of the current hydrocarbon
exploration trends, addressing the challenges that
oil-industry is facing to move into ultra deep waters and very
deep boreholes. Future breakthroughs for safer drilling into
very deep wells taping oil resources will be drilling to the
earth model where integration of drilling, completion and
seismic comes into play, with seismic interpretation while
drilling guiding drillers more intelligently.

A review of the recent and prior work has also been presented
of the theory of abiotic origin of hydrocarbons. Recent
theoretical and experimental evidence demonstrates the
possibil-

Page 228 -- 3rd AMIREG Int'l Conf (2009)

ity that hydrocarbons may have formed in the depths of the
earth. If the theory is substantiated further, then
oil-depletion becomes a myth and the industry must be ready to
face the new challenges of drilling even deeper, to the
basement rock, where huge oil fields may await to be
discovered, as White Tiger in Vietnam has proved. No matter,
though, of what the origin of hydrocarbons is, the sure trend
is that drilling depths will be increasing in the future and
the industry should be geared up and ready for meeting the
many challenges. In order to accomplish this, the industry
should continue to thrive in excellence, developing innovative
tools and techniques, while at the same time relying on top
quality people. Upstream petroleum industry has performed
wonders until today and all of this has been achieved through
people and excellent team work. The extra challenges the
industry will be facing make the demand even stronger for ever
more coordinated and multidisciplinary work and with extra
focus on innovations.
Quote:
http://gltrs.grc.nasa.gov/reports/20...007-214816.pdf


Excerpt:


Hydrate Leakage:

Methane gas leakage up through pores in the sediment rock could have caused plugging of the pores, forming hydrate domes. Similar ice plugs are found in gas pipelines at low temperatures and are a nuisance.

Another consideration is whether the methane source is from a biotic oil source or directly from abiotic seepage from sources deep within the Earth’s mantle. "The abundance may imply the latter."

Biotic or “Fossil” Oil

Biotic oil production is waning even in the midst of rising fuel prices, signaling to many the arrival of “peak oil.” World oil projections as per Campbell’s peak oil study (ref. 9) imply diminishing of long-term supply and the end of “cheap oil.” This by no means signals a lack of fuels or energy, but recovery potential and expense become the issues.

Synthetic fuels can be derived from coal and natural gas using the well-known Fischer-Tropsch (F–T) process (ref. 10) or by modifications to current refinery techniques (Prof. Harold H. Schobert, 2006, Energy Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, 16802–5000,
[email protected], personal communication). These fuels, with some further refining or additives, have the potential to be transportation and aviation fuels. Biofuels—such as ethanol and biodiesel—are
also emerging for aviation applications but will require further refining (ref. 11).

Abiotic Oil

Even in the face of depleting oil supplies and high energy prices, there is re-emerging evidence that oil is abiotic of origin and is continually being formed deep within the Earth (ref. 12). These concepts are
given credence by NASA scientists in studies showing that abundant methane of a nonbiologic nature is found on Saturn’s giant moon Titan (ref. 13), a finding that validates the contention that oil is not a fossil
fuel. Further, the impact of the 4.5-bya (billion years ago) comet 9P Tempe1 showed an abundance of hydrocarbon CH–X in the post-impact spectra, whereas it was only marginally available in the pre-impact
spectra. Abundant water and CO2 appeared in both spectra with the configuration constituency of a “dirt ball” (ref. 14).

There is also laboratory evidence of hydrocarbon generation of oil at intense pressures (refs. 8, 15,
and 16). In 1951 Nikolai Kudryavtsev initiated the abiotic theory of oil formation, which is now attributed
to Russian and Ukranian scientists. This abiogenic theory was perhaps first cited by Mikhailo Vasilyevich
Lomonosov in the year 1757 with notable proponents such as Mendeleev (ref. 12) and Berthelot (refs. 16
and 17).
Quote:
http://www.stephenjaygould.org/libra..._bacteria.html


Excerpt:


Then, in the early 1990s, several groups of scientists found and cultured bacteria from oil drillings and other environments beneath oceans and continents, thus indicating that bacteria may live generally in the Earth's interior and not only in limited areas where superheated waters emerge at the surface: from four oil reservoirs nearly two miles below the bed of the North Sea and below the permafrost surface of Alaska's North Slope, from a Swedish bore hole nearly four miles deep and from fourwells about a mile deep in France's East Paris Basin.

Water migrates extensively through cracks and joints in subsurface rocks and even through pore spaces between grains of sediments themselves (an important property of rocks, known as "porosity" and vital to the oil industry as a natural mechanism for concentrating underground liquids—and, as it now appears, bacteria as well). Thus, although such data do not indicate global pervasiveness or interconnectivity of subsurface bacterial biotas, we certainly must entertain the proposition that much of the Earth deep beneath our feet teems with microbial life.
Also note that 'deep carbon' research is underway to determine if there are hydrocarbons seeping up from deep within the Earth. Contrary to what some would have us believe, this theory is taken seriously enough by the scientific community to merit a major research effort like this.

https://www.gl.ciw.edu/deep_carbon_project

Last edited by Ought Six; 12-29-2010 at 06:02 PM.
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Old 12-29-2010, 05:45 PM   #16
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And here's someone who's all for abiotic, check out their black swan:
http://www.gasresources.net/THECARBO...Conference.htm

It's not really relevant because a lot of known deposits trace to a later date anyway.





























http://www.gasresources.net/THECARBO...Conference.htm
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Old 12-29-2010, 05:51 PM   #17
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K:Since we keep finding oil at deeper and deeper depths that challenge the whole biotic theory's parameters, actually we do. And if plant material was trapped below an impermeable layer, it may have provided nothing more than an excellent 'sponge' material to trap rising hydrocarbons from below.

I do not say that this is the case. I merely say that there are a lot of unanswered questions that are being actively explored. To abuse an AlGoreism, 'the science is *not* settled'.
Which finds challenged the biotic theory's parameters?
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Old 12-29-2010, 06:23 PM   #18
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K:
Quote:
"Which finds challenged the biotic theory's parameters?"
The depth at which oil is being found. I remember quite well when we were told that finding oil below 20,000 feet was impossible because plant material had never been deposited that deep. Guess what?

http://www.wired.com/cars/energy/mag...-09/mf_jackrig
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Old 12-29-2010, 06:53 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Ought Six View Post

PE:

My apologies. That is so bizarre that I thought for sure you were just messin' with us.
Science Fiction is "messing with us."
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Old 12-29-2010, 07:14 PM   #20
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Science fiction has an odd habit of becoming science fact. Ask Jules Verne or Arthur C. Clarke.
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:20 PM   #21
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p:So the oil is formed at depths less than 30,000 feet. That is where all this bacteria *is*. How does that invalidate the theory? So far as I can see, it does not in any way.
hmm, bacteria usually create methane as a waste byproduct-any proof of bacteria creating more complex hydrocarbons? (other than genetically engineered to produce oil)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ought Six View Post
----------Google not working for you today?

This was the first result on an a search using the terms 'underground bacteria'.

http://www.planetary.org/news/2006/1...ving_Deep.html
Like I said, I had never even heard about anything like that, and I've been reading over at TOD for some time. Has anyone tested oil muds and fluids for new bacteria forms? I'd like to see actual new strains of bacteria found near oil fields, in the deep, before I give that any creedence.

Interesting article, though-bacteria deriving their energy from radioactivity, living in a pressurized pool of salt water almost 2 miles below the surface. Who'd a thunk it?

Methinks the postulation is still all wet, since we have drilled millions of holes for 150 years, and have never found colonies of bacteria underground large enough to create an oil field, without some sort of feedstock to work with...like, peat bogs, river silt, etc...

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Old 12-29-2010, 09:55 PM   #22
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p:
Quote:
"hmm, bacteria usually create methane as a waste byproduct-any proof of bacteria creating more complex hydrocarbons? (other than genetically engineered to produce oil)"
Bacteria *are* more complex hydrocarbons, as all lifeforms are. I am not talking about bacteria creating oil as a waste product. I am talking about the biomass of the dead bacteria themselves becoming oil over time.
----------
Quote:
"Like I said, I had never even heard about anything like that, and I've been reading over at TOD for some time. Has anyone tested oil muds and fluids for new bacteria forms? I'd like to see actual new strains of bacteria found near oil fields, in the deep, before I give that any creedence."
I know my post was long, but if you had read the last section of quoted text from Steven Jay Gould, you would have seen this:
Quote:
Then, in the early 1990s, several groups of scientists found and cultured bacteria from oil drillings and other environments beneath oceans and continents, thus indicating that bacteria may live generally in the Earth's interior and not only in limited areas where superheated waters emerge at the surface: from four oil reservoirs nearly two miles below the bed of the North Sea and below the permafrost surface of Alaska's North Slope, from a Swedish bore hole nearly four miles deep and from fourwells about a mile deep in France's East Paris Basin.
The idea that the bacteria are living that deep in the Earth is established fact.
----------
Quote:
"Methinks the postulation is still all wet, since we have drilled millions of holes for 150 years, and have never found colonies of bacteria underground large enough to create an oil field, without some sort of feedstock to work with...like, peat bogs, river silt, etc..."
Since there seems to be a lot of evidence that simple hydrocarbons are coming up from deep within the Earth, there is no reason to believe that bacteria could not feed on them. Then, when they die, they would leave behind their 'bodies', which are complex hydrocarbons, to be cooked into oil. There is a number of scientists that postulate that the mass of underground bacteria is in fact far greater than the sum of all above ground biomass. If true, there could certainly be a hell of a lot of them down there.

Again, we lack a large body of data on this, so it is speculative. But the more research that is done, the more problems crop up with the biotic theory, and the more things that support the possibility of non-fossil oil appear. Thus it is logical to at least keep an open mind on the subject.
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Old 12-29-2010, 11:24 PM   #23
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Funny this thread mentions Titan above.
When the story broke out about the arsenic eating bacteria that was the first tangent on the story.
Yeah - bacteria that eat arsenic - turns all sorts of things we "know" on its head.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/1..._n_791094.html

I think there is biotic and abiotic.

I also think there is another player at the table - the fourth kingdom - fungi that has a way of being everywhere and hooks up with everything else. Lichen come to mind.

Over and out.
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Old 12-29-2010, 11:29 PM   #24
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It makes sense that different forms of life that have shared the environment for billions of years have developed interconnected and interdependent ecologies deep in the Earth. That is certainly what we see above ground.
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Old 12-31-2010, 09:58 PM   #25
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Abiogenic Petroleum,

Combinations of Hydrogen and Carbon atoms are said to exist as Oceans of liquid methane on at least one of Saturn's moons. So it is logical to me that their formation was "Abiogenic". But I suspect the term means something else to those who's thinkings are considered elements of the fringe..

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