Re: [energyresources] Pre-publication comments: Re: abiotic oil
- It seems to me that the scientific facts that lie at the center of the
abiotic controversy concern the likelihood of the biomarkers commonly
seen in oil to have been formed under inorganic conditions.
It would seem to me that a smart chemist could decide whether the
structures of these supposed fossil organic biomarkers would be likely
to be stable end products of an inorganic process. Stable enough that
such supposedly biological breakdown molecules could be made
inorganically or could be duplicated in the laboratory, maybe by some
geologically plausible variation on the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. It
seems to me that there was an article in Scientific American on biotic
origin evidence long ago. I'd tend to go at this issue from that angle
of evidence, and side with the certainty of the updated scientific
consensus, which I suspect will side heavily with a biological origin.
-- Roger, Tx
On Sep 30, 2004, at 11:58 AM, Richard Heinberg wrote:
> Thanks to all who so far have responded to my request for comments on
> article on abiotic oil. I think the points raised by Karl demand
> discussion. If these claims by the Russians stand, then I think we
> have to
> accept the idea that oil may indeed have an abiotic origin. That might
> might not have implications for peak oil. In either case, it seems to
> that this matter should be taken seriously and not dismissed out of
> Seppo: did you recommend the book Petroleum Geochemistry and Geology,
> 2 nd
> edition by John M. Hunt, W.H. Freeman, and Company, New York, (1996),
> because it contains information that would tend to refute the Russian
- --- In email@example.com, "Richard Heinberg"
> Thanks to all who so far have responded to my request forNo, I think that Karl (or even better, some of these Russian authors)
> comments on my article on abiotic oil. I think the points
> raised by Karl demand further discussion.
should address the issues raised by critics of abiotic oil, instead
of constant referalls to the same references.
> If these claims by theThey don't. The Russians attack the idea that oil could form from
> Russians stand, then I think we have to
> accept the idea that oil may indeed have an abiotic origin.
Carbohydrates, but that is NOT the standard biogenic model.
They assume an incorrect geochemistry/oxidation state for the
mantle, and have no mechanism for getting the oil to the subsurface.
This would have to happen extremely quickly - the paradox is
that they need a slow process for C12/C13 fractionation, and
a very fast process to 'quench' their hydrocarbon mixture, which
would quickly move outside its stability field as it moved up.
Remember that there are NO open faults below cf.10km.
The generation of oil with the same geochemical siginture as that
found in reserviors from source rocks by anerobic heating at
standard pressure has been demonstrated in the lab. It's hard
to argue with that kind of thing, and the GasResources site
simply ignores this fact.
Furthermore, a great number of areas have been drilled, especially
in the US, where modern knowledge would say that oil would not
be present, and these wells turned up dry. There is a simple rule
that if the requirements for a biogenic petroleum system are not met
then you do not find oil.
> That might or might not have implications for peak oil. In eitherUntil the abiogenic theory people actually address the cirticisms
> case, it seems to me that this matter should be taken seriously
> and not dismissed out of hand.
raised, then their hypothesis can be comfortably dismissed, not
out of hand but on prefectly good scientific grounds.
And when talking about Conspiracy theories... the oil companies of
the world really, really want to find more oil in places like the
US and Europe, where ownership rights are much better and more
stable than in, say, Nigeria or Russia. They have no interest in
seeing OPEC making lots of money. If they could find and produce
more oil in the first world, then they would. To suppress
something like this would be so suppress their own profits!
> Seppo: did you recommend the book Petroleum Geochemistry andGeology, 2 nd
> edition by John M. Hunt, W.H. Freeman, and Company, New York,(1996),
> because it contains information that would tend to refute theRussian
> --Richard Heinberg
> Santa Rosa CA
> From: Karl Kristianson <yahoogroups@d...>
> Subject: Pre-publication comments: Re: abiotic oil
> Richard Heinberg, I have some comments about your article.
> Sections of your article are quoted, followed by my comments and
> "But there is a problem with this: the temperatures at depths
> below about 15,000 feet are high enough (above 275 degrees F) to
> break hydrocarbon bonds. What remains after these molecular bonds
> are severed is methane, whose molecule contains only a single
> carbon atom."
> Russian research with very high pressure test equipment
> apparently show this to be wrong. While, apparently, 275 F is
> enough to break bonds at LOWER PRESSURES, it DOES NOT happen at
> the depths and high pressures the Russians think that oil
> formation occurs (60 miles or more down, minimum). They also
> claim to show that normal petroleum products (except for methane)
> CAN'T evolve at lower pressures than you find at 60 miles or more
> down. If they are right, that would mean that the biological
> origin of oil is completely wrong. (If you have links that show
> research showing formation of oil at lower pressures from organic
> matter under conditions achievable in the real world, I would
> greatly appreciate it.)
> Quote from the Russian research: "All hydrocarbon molecules other
> than methane are high-pressure polymorphs of the H-C system and
> evolve spontaneously only at high pressures, greater than at
> least 25 kbar even under the most favorable circumstances." "That
> the evolved hydrocarbons remain stable over a range of
> temperatures increasing by more than 300 K demonstrates the third
> prediction of the theoretical analysis: Hydrocarbon molecules
> heavier than methane do not decompose with increasing temperature
> in the high-pressure regime of their genesis."
> Please see this link for more info:
> "Geologists trace the source of the carbon in hydrocarbons
> through analysis of its isotopic balance. Natural carbon is
> nearly all isotope 12, with 1.11 percent being isotope 13.
> Organic material, however, usually contains less C-13, because
> photosynthesis in plants preferentially selects C-12 over C-13.
> Oil and natural gas typically show a C-12 to C-13 ratio similar
> to that of the biological materials from which they are assumed
> to have originated. The C-12 to C-13 ratio is a generally
> observed property of petroleum and is predicted by the biotic
> theory; it is not merely an occasional aberration.(14)"
> The Russians have shown that the rock stratas that the oil must
> rise through, have an affinity for taking up one but not the
> other leading to the ratio you mention, WITHOUT biological
> Russian quote: "Colombo, Gazzarini, and Gonfiantini demonstrated
> conclusively, by a simple experiment the results of which
> admitted no ambiguity, that the carbon isotope ratios of methane
> change continuously along its transport path, becoming
> progressively lighter with distance traveled."
> Complete article is at: http://www.gasresources.net/
> Click on: Scientific Publications, then Click on: The Statistical
> Thermodynamics of Petroleum Science, then click on: 2. Dismissal
> of Claims of a Biological Connection for Natural Petroleum.
> "In addition, oil typically contains biomarkers-porphyrins,
> isoprenoids, pristane, phytane, cholestane, terpines, and
> clorins-that are related to biological chemicals such as
> chlorophyll and hemoglobin. The chemical fingerprint of oil
> assumed to have been formed from, for example, algae is different
> from that of oil formed from plankton. Thus geochemists can (and
> routinely do) use biomarkers to trace oil samples to specific
> source rocks.
> Quote from Russian research: "The claims about "biomarkers" have
> been thoroughly discredited by observations of those molecules in
> the interiors of ancient, abiotic meteorites, and also in many
> cases by laboratory synthesis under imposed conditions mimicking
> the natural environment. In the discussion below, the claims put
> forth about porphyrin and isoprenoid molecules are addressed
> particularly, because many "look-like/come-from" claims have been
> put forth for those compounds.
> The "similar(recondite)-properties/come-from" claims involve
> diverse, odd phenomena with which persons not working directly in
> a scientific profession would be unfamiliar. These include the
> "odd-even abundance imbalance" claims, the "carbon isotope"
> claims, and the "optical-activity" claims. The first, the
> "odd-even abundance imbalance" claims, are demonstrated to be
> utterly unrelated to any biological property. The second,
> "carbon isotope" claims, are shown to depend upon measurement of
> an obscure property of carbon fluids which cannot reliably be
> considered a measure of origin. The third, the
> "optical-activity" claims, deserve particular note; for the
> observations of optical activity in natural petroleum have been
> trumpeted loudly for years as a "proof" of some "biological
> origin" of petroleum. Those claims have been thoroughly
> discredited decades ago by observation of optical activity in the
> petroleum material extracted from the interiors of carbonaceous
> meteorites. More significantly, recent analysis, which has
> resolved the previously-outstanding problem of the genesis of
> optical activity in abiotic fluids, has established that the
> phenomenon of optical activity is an inevitable thermodynamic
> consequence of the phase stability of multicomponent fluids at
> high pressures."
> (The above Russian quote is also from the article mentioned
> "Not even the Russian fields cited by the abiotic theorists as
> evidence for their views are immune: in June the head of Russia's
> Federal Energy Agency said that production for 2005 is likely to
> remain flat or even drop, while other officials in that country
> have said that growth in Russian production cannot be continued
> for more than another few years."
> The Russians, as mentioned elsewhere in this forum, have tied in
> with the OPEC nations to try and maintain some semblence of a
> cartel. So, I would guess, that they could easily just be lying
> about this to keep the prices up. And, also, as mentioned in your
> article, not all Russian geologists believe in the abiotic
> formation of oil.
> Hope this helps.
- One example that comes to mind regarding this type of analysis is
the creation of some organic compounds like sugars. My recollection
is that some types exhibit a specific polarization direction when
they're created by biological (i.e. living) sources, whereas if you
synthesize them chemically the polarization shows no preference.
Could this also be the case for some of these petroleum biomarkers?
Seems there might be a wealth of information there, including other
forms of isotope ratios, that could help distinguish organic origins
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Roger Baker <rcbaker@e...>
> It seems to me that the scientific facts that lie at the center ofthe abiotic controversy concern the likelihood of the biomarkers
commonly seen in oil to have been formed under inorganic conditions.
It would seem to me that a smart chemist could decide whether the
structures of these supposed fossil organic biomarkers would be
likely to be stable end products of an inorganic process. Stable
enough that such supposedly biological breakdown molecules could be
made inorganically or could be duplicated in the laboratory, maybe
by some geologically plausible variation on the Fischer-Tropsch
synthesis. It seems to me that there was an article in Scientific
American on biotic origin evidence long ago. I'd tend to go at this
issue from that angle of evidence, and side with the certainty of
the updated scientific consensus, which I suspect will side heavily
with a biological origin.
> -- Roger, Tx