View Full Version : Where does crude oil come from?

06-10-2004, 12:10 PM
And coal beds too for that matter?

I've never tried to understand the process where the bodies of dead plants and animals could acumulate in to thick beds of coal or pockets of crude oil. However the idea advanced in this article, http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=38645 ,seems so far out that it requires either serious study or rejection as a crack pots dreaming.

What say ye, what say ye all....

06-10-2004, 12:36 PM
My dad chased oil all over...and was "lucky" beyond all norms at finding the stuff...he often mentioned that he thought the dinasaur story of making oil was hogwash.......he would say that many dinos wouldn't fit on the earth.

John Bell
06-10-2004, 12:36 PM
It's a theory that's been around for quite a while. I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it either. Many theories about how things actually are have radically changed as the result of new scientific investigations and techniques: Ptolemy and Galileo on the nature of the solar system, the discovery that many diseases were the result of microorganisms instead of evil spirits, and so on. What evidence do we have that oil is just old organic material from the surface? I don't know myself. But it's a darned interesting hypothesis.

06-10-2004, 03:49 PM
Well wouldn't this be a hoot:

Eugene Island is a submerged mountain in the Gulf of Mexico about 80 miles off the Louisiana coast. The landscape of Eugene Island is riven with deep fissures and faults from which spew spontaneous belches of gas and oil. Up on the surface, a platform designated Eugene Island 330 began producing about 15,000 barrels of oil per day in the early 1970s. By 1989, the flow had dwindled to 4,000 barrels per day. Then, suddenly, production zoomed to 13,000 barrels. In addition, estimated reserves rocketed from 60 to 400 million barrels. Even more anomalous is the discovery that the geological age of today's oil is quite different from that recovered 10 years ago. What's going on under the Gulf of Mexico?

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the oil reservoir at Eugene Island is rapidly refilling itself from "some continuous source miles below the earth's surface." In support of this surmise, analysis of seismic records revealed a deep fault which "was gushing oil like a garden hose."

The deep-seated oil source at Eugene Island strongly supports T. Gold's theory about The Deep Hot Biosphere. Gold holds:

"that oil is actually a renewable, primordial syrup continually manufactured by the earth under ultrahot conditions and tremendous pressures. As this substance migrates toward the surface, it is attacked by bacteria, making it appear to have an organic origin dating back to the dinosaurs."
The apparent deep-seated oil source at Eugene Island and Gold's ideas make petroleum engineers wonder about a similar situation at the seemingly inexhaustible oil fields of the Middle East.

"The Middle East has more than doubled its reserves in the past 20 years, despite half a century of intense exploitation and relatively few new discoveries. It would take a pretty big pile of dead dinosaurs and prehistoric plants to account for the estimated 660 billion barrels of oil in the region, notes Norman Hyne, a professor at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma. "Offthe-wall theories often turn out to be right," he says."
(Cooper, Christopher; "It's No Crude Joke: This Oil Field Grows Even as It's Tapped," Wall Street Journal, April 16, 1999. Cr. C. Casale.)

From Science Frontiers #124, JUL-AUG 1999. 1999-2000 William R. Corliss

06-10-2004, 04:01 PM
How come there are thousands of wells that have been pumped dry? Why has the production of oil peaked out in so many other wells and fallen off rapidly. Why is the price of oil continueing to escalate if there is an unlimited amount of it just waiting for the taking? Why have there been no major discoveries of large new fields in the past 25 years? Inquiring minds want to know.

06-10-2004, 04:23 PM
The Oil Picture in a Nutshell
Oil provides 40% of the energy in industrial countries. Oil is especially critical for agriculture, transportation, and the chemical industry. To a significant degree, oil is the engine that has driven the explosion in human population - far more oil than sun energy was used to produce your lunch. The production of food, the price of food, and the availability of food are strongly dependent on oil.
Humans have searched for oil for over 100 years. Until 1962, the rate at which we discovered new oil was an upward curve. But 1962 was the peak of oil discovery. Since that year, the discovery of new oil deposits has been in a steady decline. When the OPEC oil embargo of 1973 sent prices up sharply, there was a tremendous increase in exploration activities. We literally scoured the face of the Earth, looking for new oil. Even with the latest in high-tech exploration equipment, relatively little new oil was found.(10)

Although the discovery of new oil resources peaked three decades ago, the consumption of oil has continued to grow. In 1994, Petroconsultants published a report on the future of the world's oil supply. Many large oil companies provide their own data to Petroconsultants, on a confidential basis. Petroconsultants is widely regarded to be the foremost authority for the global oil industry.(11)

Based on their information, the Petroconsultants' report projected that "world oil production will peak in 1999 at 65.6 million barrels per day (mbpd) and then decline to 52.6 mbpd in 2010." (12) In short, the peak is coming soon, and it will be followed by a continuous and significant decline in production.

So, the projected production in 2010 is 52 mbpd. On the other hand, based on current consumption trends, the projected rate of consumption in 2010 is in the neighborhood of 94 mbpd (13) (see Figure 3). We're either going to have to find huge new deposits soon - which is essentially impossible - or we're going to see sharply rising prices, shortages, economic disruption, and so on (and this may happen suddenly).

To make this story more interesting, there are two primary sources of oil: OPEC and non-OPEC. The OPEC countries, mostly in the Middle East, possess the bulk of the world's oil reserves. The production of the smaller non-OPEC reserves has peaked, and is in decline. Within ten years, OPEC will be the world's primary source of oil.

The Persian Gulf is the home of most of the remaining oil. Several nations in the Gulf are assumed to have nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. The Netanyahu regime in Israel is doing anything but promoting peace in the region. In several oil-rich nations, Islamic fundamentalist resistance movements are growing in power, angered by the abuses of their non-democratic feudal monarchies.

Population growth is explosive in the Gulf, while government deficits and unemployment grow. None of the Gulf countries can grow enough food to feed itself, and all are losing land to desertification. All of them have shortages of fresh water. All of them have disputes with their neighbors over water and/or borders.(14) Long-term political stability in the Gulf is a very poor bet - and this further jeopardizes the future stability of the oil supply. The sooner stability breaks down, the sooner the final oil crisis will begin.

L. F. Ivanhoe is the president of Novum Corporation, and he has 50 years of experience in oil exploration. Here's his opinion: "The global price of oil after 1999 should follow the simplest economic law of supply vs. demand - resulting in a major increase in crude and all other fuels' prices, with the accompanying global economic/social problems of hyper-inflation, rationing, etc. After the associated economic implosion, many of the world's developed societies may look more like today's Russia than the U.S." (15)

Dr. Walter Youngquist, an oil industry geologist, doesn't see a bright future either. He says, "My observations in some 70 countries over about 50 years of travel and work tell me that we are clearly already over the cliff. The momentum of population growth and resource consumption is so great that a collision course with disaster is inevitable. Large problems lie not very far ahead." (16)

Alternatives to Oil
The common knee-jerk response to predictions of an oil shortage is to grin and blurt: "we'll just switch to another fuel supply." It's as simple as waving the magic wand of technology. Unfortunately, current evidence doesn't seem to support the blind faith in this magic act. For transportation, the food industry, and chemical manufacturing, there are no practical replacements for petroleum.(17)
Liquid petroleum gas (LPG) is a low-volume by-product of oil refining. Thus, its supply cannot be increased. It is a non-renewable fossil resource.
Compressed natural gas (CNG) gets one-fourth the driving range per tankfull. It is also a non-renewable fossil resource. When oil prices leap, gas reserves will be quickly depleted.
Making methanol from biomass is even more expensive than making it from natural gas or unfinished gasoline. It is not a practical alternative.
Making ethanol requires more energy input than is contained in the finished end product.
Fuel cells are not currently an economically practical alternative, and they may never be.
Hydrogen technology is still decades away from being affordable, and it's starting to look like it may never be.(18)
The dreams for fusion energy are fading with each passing year. Also, the fusion process generates enormous amounts of radioactive material as a byproduct.
For the long-term future, there are three potential sources of energy: nuclear, coal, and the sun. For obvious reasons, the first two are terrible alternatives.

A solar economy requires a much smaller human population, living a much simpler lifestyle. The early 19th century supported a population of one billion, but this was based on widespread agriculture, which slowly but surely destroys the topsoil it depends on. The limit for a non-agricultural population - with a high potential for long-term sustainability - seems to be in the neighborhood of four to ten million, worldwide.

The problem is not that we are going to run out of oil. The problem is that the demand for oil will soon exceed the supply of oil. The rising curve of oil consumption is expected to cross the falling curve of production some time between 2000 and 2010.(19)
We'll soon be in a bidding war for oil, competing against all of the other nations of the world. The costs of everything will rise. As people spend more for food, they will spend less for everything else. Thus, the global industrial consumer status quo is likely to come to an end within two to twelve years - and there will not likely be a smooth landing.

This subject opens a Pandora's box of questions about our current priorities. If you want to have children, what are they going to eat? Should you be saving for college or farmland? Could anything be more irrelevant than the skills and knowledge currently being taught in our schools and colleges? Congress has been informed about this issue (20) - why is it doing nothing? The status quo will not last forever. Now is a good time to be asking questions and re-thinking priorities.


Richard Reese
RR 1 Box 401
Hancock, MI 49930-9739
(906) 482-7873
31 May 1997


Web Sources of Oil Information
The following four Web sites are a good place to learn more about the petroleum future, and other important issues (see the footnotes for additional Web sources). Many libraries now offer Web access - ask your friendly librarian for assistance.
Table of Contents for Jay Hanson's huge and wonderful eco-world.
Table of Contents for Global 2000 Revisited. See the Energy topic (great graphs).

Great Oil Video
An excellent tool for learning about oil numbers is Dr. Albert A. Bartlett's video, Arithmetic, Population, and Energy. It can be purchased or rented from : University of Colorado Television, Academic Media Services, Campus Box 379, Boulder, CO 80309-0379. Call (303) 492-1857. The retail price for the VHS tape is $35.00.

1 L. F. Ivanhoe, "Oil Reserves and Semantics," Hubbert Center Newsletter, #96/1, Colorado School of Mines.
2 James J. MacKenzie and Kathleen Courrier, "Cutting Gas Taxes Will Make Things Worse," Los Angeles Times, May 8, 1996. Both authors are from the World Resources Institute.

3 L. F. Ivanhoe, "Get Ready for Another Oil Shock!," The Futurist, January-February 1997. ftp://csf.colorado.edu/environment/authors/Hanson.Jay/page90.htm

4 Colin J. Campbell, "A European View of Oil Reserves," Hubbert Center Newsletter, #97/2, Colorado School of Mines.

5 Francis de Winter, "Political Reserves: Background and Demonstration," http://www.ecotopia.com/hubbert/polrsrvs.htm

6 Danielle Yang, "January Exports, Imports Down But Highest Since February 1996," Tiawan News, February 5, 1997. http://ww3.sinanet.com/news/0205news/1_E.html

7 "Year-end '96 Economic Review - Energy," Bangkok Post. http://www.bangkokpost.net/y_end_eco_rev/yr96eng1.html

8 Xu Dashan, "Robust Economy Fuels Oil Imports," China Daily News - Business Weekly, January 12, 1997. http://www.chinadaily.net/bw/history/b1-1oil.a12.html (accessable to subscribers only)

9 US DOE, "EIA Reports," May 16, 1996. http://www.ecotopia.com/hubbert/energy50.htm

10 L. F. Ivanhoe, "Future world oil supplies: There is a finite limit," World Oil, October 1995, p. 77-88. ftp://csf.colorado.edu/environment/authors/Hanson.Jay/page85.htm

11 Ronald B. Swenson and Francis de Winter, "Preparing For The Impending End Of The Age Of Cheap Petroleum," EcoSystems Inc., P. O. Box 7080, Santa Cruz, California 95061, February 12, 1996. http://www.ecotopia.com/hubbert/hubpro.htm

12 OPEC News Agency, "Study Says World Oil Output will Peak in 1999," The News (Mexico City's English-language newspaper), April 1, 1994, page 2. http://www.ecotopia.com/hubbert/hubnews.htm

13 Joseph P. Riva Jr., "World Oil Production After Year 2000: Business As Usual Or Crises?" CRS Report for Congress, Congressional Research Service, The Library of Congress, August 18, 1995.

14 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, CIA World Factbook 1996.

15 see Ivanhoe, "Future world oil supplies."
16 Dr. Walter Youngquist, personal correspondence, April 3, 1996 and April 16, 1996.

17 David Pimentel, et al, "Renewable Energy: Economic and Environmental Issues," BioScience, Vol. 44, No. 8, September 1994. ftp://csf.colorado.edu/environment/authors/Hanson.Jay/page84.htm

18 "Notes on Alternative Drives," Greenpeace, 1996. In 1996, Daimler-Benz (which is working on hydrogen cars) said that at least another 14 years was needed to develop hydrogen transportation technologies. http://www.greenpeace.org/~climate/smile/tech/16alternative.html

19 see Ivanhoe, "Get Ready for Another Oil Shock!"

20 "World Oil Output May Peak, Start Dropping in Decade, Congress Committee is Told," Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Letter, April 1996. http://www.solstice.crest.org/renewables/thl/april96.html

Jim H
06-10-2004, 04:43 PM
Norm, apparently there are people out there working on the theory, I found this document on the web.

<a href="http://www.columbia.edu/cu/21stC/issue-1.1/large.htm" target="_blank">Visualization in geology
and oceanography</a>

A project aimed at finding new sources of oil along fault lines uses visualization to make oil drilling less invasive to the Earth. Roger N. Anderson, who heads the 1. Global Basins Research Network (GBRN), a 6-year-old multidisciplinary Internet organization, has been collecting data around an active fault zone in the Gulf of Mexico, where the Pennzoil Company recently drilled a development well. Anderson's objective is to locate natural underground hydrocarbon "streams" that may be percolating upward to shallower reservoirs from deep source rocks. "If we figure out how oil moves up faults, we can tap nature's way of getting it out, as opposed to drilling deep and expensive wells," he says.
Anderson's method uses the computer to visualize the dynamic motion of the upward oil migration. The colorful computer images strip away the layers of sediment in the basin to reveal oil reservoirs and pathways, providing clues, the scientists hope, to potential strategies for delivering this untapped oil source to the wellhead. The test was performed on Eugene Island on a fairly recent field, geologically speaking, that has yielded more than 1 billion barrels of oil and gas equivalents since 1972. Researchers found proof of seepage along the fault line, thus verifying their migration theory and improving the industry's understanding of hydrocarbon movement. GBRN is working on developing a mechanism to extract the oil profitably.

06-10-2004, 05:12 PM
That's politics, Bigrock. We're talkin geology here.

But, isn't it amazing, just because I'd never heard of Gold until yesterday doesn't mean he didn't exist. He is a reputible scientist who deserves to be taken seriously even though main stream geologists and biologists do not agree with him. A geologist* who reviewed Gold's book tore in to him pretty hard. That's science. For one thing biologist do not agree that the methane bacterial connection occured early enough in earth's history to fit his model. And Gold bases part of his hypothsis on the porosity of sedementary rock rather than basement rock. Now that's getting too deep for me.

*S.A.Drury in Geological Magazine, March 2000 Vol 127#2, P. 214

Wild Wassa
06-10-2004, 05:24 PM
Norm, My understanding of how oil, coal and natural gas are formed is;

'Small amounts' (rather than the myth of large amounts) of organic materials that are covered by deposition, eventually mix with salts to form hydrocarbons. The process of deposition continues to creat greater heats and pressures, speeding up the process of forming hydrocarbons, so theoretically the earth should not run out of oil ... just oil production will fail to meet demand.


06-10-2004, 07:05 PM
I understand that methanol production is expensive, but I wonder whether biodiesel is as expensive. There have been many small scale experiments with various base supplies ranging from rapeseed and coconut oil to recycled frying oil. I can see that a major problem would be demand outstripping supply in the short term.

The political leadership should be already mapping a strategy to deal with these issues, but getting widespread acceptance of the compromises involved is hard to sell to an energy hungry electorate.

I think we are looking at a fundamental change in the western way of life.

Del Lansing
06-10-2004, 07:09 PM
Many oil wells in California that were previously 'pumped dry' are starting to produce again. The theory is that as the Pacific plate is being ground under the continental plate the many fathoms of organic "mud" that once was sea floor is pushed down to geothermal regions and sort of 'refined' to crude oil, it then seeps up and is refilling So. Californian wells. This really doesn't explain the Gulf of Mexico situation. But obviously there are more sources than the 'dinosaur sqeezins' theory.

06-10-2004, 08:30 PM
The deep petroleum theory has been around awhile. I haven't followed it recently. I've been busy trying to clean up the millions of gallons of gasoline and oil that humans have dumped back into the ground tongue.gif .

Finding oceans of liquid methane on Titan, Saturn's moon, probably only helps the case for deep petrol.

[ 06-10-2004, 09:31 PM: Message edited by: Fitz ]

L.W. Baxter
06-10-2004, 08:50 PM
Now all we need is a constantly replenishing source of clean air, and we'll be set! :D

Any oceans of pure oxygen on Titan?

Edit to add:

Maybe Stanley can drive us there in his new SUV!

[ 06-10-2004, 09:52 PM: Message edited by: L.W. Baxter ]

capt jake
06-10-2004, 08:53 PM
And here I always thought that 'crude' came from the 'bilge'! ;)

06-10-2004, 08:57 PM
Hmmm... if crude comes from deeply buried organic material, maybe we should grind up dead people and pump them into old wells... (tongue firmly in cheek) :D

Del Lansing
06-10-2004, 08:58 PM
And here I always thought that 'crude' came from the 'bilge'! Nahh, that's usually just 'rude' tongue.gif

L.W. Baxter
06-10-2004, 09:00 PM
Meerkat, that's revolting, and you apparently didn't read Norm's link or any of the previous posts.

You should check it out. It's a little mind-bending. One thing about being permanently afflicted with ignorance as I am, I can be constantly surprised by stuff that everybody else already knows.

06-10-2004, 09:05 PM
Very old dead lizards, with foul mouths...?

capt jake
06-10-2004, 10:47 PM
After re-reading this thread, it is quite compelling! I am amazed at the information, though most doesn't seem to meet in the middle anywhere, compelling none the less.

Give up plans for a 'stink-pot' I guess?? smile.gif ;)

Seriously, this is very interesting, thanks to Norm for bringing this up! Just means I have to think about one more thing! ;) smile.gif

I have my own hypothesis on relativity and such.....