Seriously, Petroleum may not be “Fossil Fuel” (and may not be running out!)

I have written a few times about the theory of petroleum/crude oil production.  Specifically, I have been interested in the argument that says essentially that we are not running on liquefied dinosaurs, but rather on a purely chemical process.  This is called the “abiogenesis” theory of petroleum creation (not to be confused with the more theological discussion my brother has been having on his blog about that OTHER Genesis.)

While this research had been dismissed by many (including my Daughter’s petrogeology professor) the work continues.  In a recent article in Science Daily titled “Fossils From Animals And Plants Are Not Necessary For Crude Oil And Natural Gas, Swedish Researchers Find” the argument is once again made.  Reading from the article:

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.

“There is no doubt that our research proves that crude oil and natural gas are generated without the involvement of fossils. All types of bedrock can serve as reservoirs of oil,” says Vladimir Kutcherov, who adds that this is true of land areas that have not yet been prospected for these energy sources.

Some of this is rather disconcerting.  For those that abhor the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) the thought that we might someday run out of petroleum was at least some small solace. Alas, we apparently now won’t.

One of the more interesting points about their research is that they believe they can now more precisely pinpoint where to find petroleum deposits based not on where they believe dinosaurs and other prehistoric life existed but rather based on the geologic fissures.  Using this approach they believe they can improve the accuracy of drilling from 20 to 70%.

I do  have one small gripe: I don’t think they can say (as they do in the article) that the findings are revolutionary.  The findings support theories that have been around for quite a while.  Perhaps these finding will have the effect of moving abiogenesis from being the “Rodney Dangerfield” of geologic science, and start to get real “Respect.”

A “Tipping Point” perhaps?

nb: I find this arena to be quite interesting from a “philosophy of science” perspective, as the “conventional” science has long dismissed this alternative view as “crack-pot” science.  Much of our understanding of energy consumption has been based on this being a “non-renewable” resource.  Perhaps that assumption is mistaken? Thomas Kuhn’s paradigm shift “in the wild?”