Tram Town
Monday, June 07, 2004
Category: Oil
From the Britannica:
Although it is recognized that the original source of carbon and hydrogen was in the materials that made up the primordial Earth, it is generally accepted that these two elements have had to pass through an organic phase to be combined into the varied complex molecules recognized as crude oil. The organic material that is the source of most oil has probably been derived from single-celled planktonic (free-floating) plants, such as diatoms and blue-green algae, and single-celled planktonic animals, such as foraminifera, which live in aquatic environments of marine, brackish, or fresh water.
Or not! It seems that the abyssal, abiotic (meaning occurring deep below the surface and not involving an organic phase) theory much touted by genius/crank Thomas Gold has been the standard theory of Russian and Ukrainian scientists for 50 years and more. In fact, the Russians are apparently using the theory as a means of predicting the whereabouts of substantial oil and gas fields:
Most importantly, the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins has played a central role in the transformation of Russia (then the U.S.S.R.) from being a “petroleum poor” entity in 1951 to the largest petroleum producing and exporting nation on Earth.
The Geological Society of London has an announcement for a conference that was to be held last year which was to:
Discuss the evidence and data for an organic and abiogenic origin of petroleum; discuss the types of tests that could be designated to determine the mechanism for the formation of petroleum; discuss the similarities and differences in exploration strategies using an organic model compared to an abiogenic model for the origin of petroleum; discuss and debate these exploration strategies; discuss the ramifications of an abiogenic origin of petroleum in estimating basin resources and in determining field reserves; and discuss the significance of an abiogenic origin of petroleum to the future supplies of petroleum.
It seems that the conference, a Hedberg Conference organised by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, which was to be held in Vienna and for which 80 abstracts had been recieved had to be cancelled "due to recent world events", presumably the war in Iraq, and "will be rescheduled in 2004". There is no sign of the rescheduling thus far in 2004.
Some of the supporters of the theory are way out there but also asking a question I have always had in the back of my mind:
What about an 800 foot thick coal seam in Australia? How many miles thick must the plant matter have been to form such massive pure carbon deposits?
All in all it is smelling like a Kuhnian paradigm shift took place in Russia about forty years ago and is potentially going to take place in the West imminently. Anyone for hundreds of times the projected reserves of "fossil" fuels? Watch this space!

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