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What would change if the source of oil was abiotic? « Open Forum « News, Reviews & Misc
 
Mon, 06 Feb 2012, 3:50pm #1
TLee
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I've read where oil is being discovered in areas far too deep to be explained by decaying leaves and dinosaurs. What if oil was abiotic and was actually being creating constantly by the earth due to extreme heat and pressure? Assuming scientists proved conclusively that we could never run out of oil as long as we could drill deep enough, what effect would that have on the world? Also assume that every large landmass could produce the oil and not just the current OPEC countries.

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Mon, 06 Feb 2012, 4:02pm #2
TLee
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My first guess is that the anti-oil groups would only be able to argue against using oil for environmental reasons and would lose a good portion of their support from those of us that really want to end our dependence on foreign oil. The cost of oil might go down from the perceived future surplus. This would put more pressure on manufacturers to either reduce the cost of solar panels and EVs or quit making them altogether.

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Mon, 06 Feb 2012, 4:08pm #3
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Somewhere around 2100, massive amounts of carbon released would make forests grow at a exponential rate taking over roads houses and cities. Global warming would make the south pole melt which would then become the largest single sanctuary city in the world and the only refuge from the killer plants.


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Mon, 06 Feb 2012, 4:09pm #4
Fibb
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nothing.

Combustion is OUT


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Mon, 06 Feb 2012, 4:30pm #5
TLee
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Fibb :) wrote:

nothing.

Combustion is OUT

It would only be 'out' if it was more expensive than non-combustion. Of course, pricing combustion would have to take into account its true costs. And that debate would heat up dramatically with one side trying to impose imputed costs via a tax computed by some huge bureaucracy and the other side completely ignoring the real costs to the environment.

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Mon, 06 Feb 2012, 4:31pm #6
supamark
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But it's not, so why bother wondering?

Also, considering how geologic processes work you can't go by depth alone. If it is found in an area where one plate has subducted below another for example.

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Mon, 06 Feb 2012, 4:39pm #7
WalksOnDirt
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TLee wrote:

I've read where oil is being discovered in areas far too deep to be explained by decaying leaves and dinosaurs.

The isotope ratios of the carbon atoms should be a better test as to whether it is abiotic.


Deasil is the right way to go.

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Mon, 06 Feb 2012, 4:48pm #8
TLee
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supamark wrote:

But it's not, so why bother wondering?

Also, considering how geologic processes work you can't go by depth alone. If it is found in an area where one plate has subducted below another for example.

'But it's not' is probably right, but not everyone would agree with you.

Here's an excerpt about the abiotic oil theory:

As it turns out, the assumption that oil is a non-renewable fossil fuel has not gone unchallenged. Though seldom heard, there is a competing theory, namely that oil is abiotic, i.e. produced inorganically, as a result of natural processes deep within the earth.

This theory answers one of the most nagging questions about the origin of oil. A 1974 article in the Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists put it this way: "All giant [oil] fields are most logically explained by inorganic theory because simple calculations of potential hydrocarbon contents shows that organic materials are too few to supply the volumes of petroleum involved." A 1999 Wall Street Journal article concurred, stating that most geologists, "are hard-pressed to explain why the world's greatest oil pool, the Middle East, has more than doubled its reserves in the past 20 years, despite [the] 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."

The abiotic theory has been around for over half a century and is little known in this country, for the simple reason that the bulk of the research was conducted in the old Soviet Union, and most of the papers are in Russian. It received some striking support in the U.S. in 1999, however. The aforementioned Wall Street Journal article told the story:

"Something mysterious is going on at Eugene Island 300. Production at the oil field, deep in the Gulf of Mexico off the Coast of Louisiana, was supposed to have declined years ago. [Discovered in 1973, its] output peaked at about 15,000 barrels a day. By 1989, production had slowed to about 4,000 barrels a day. Then suddenly... Eugene Island's fortunes reversed... [It] is now producing 13,000 barrels a day, and probable reserves have rocketed to more than 400 million barrels from 60 million."

Perhaps more intriguing, "scientists studying the field say the crude coming out of the pipe is of a geological age quite different from the oil that gushed 10 years ago," a disparity that the Journal explains by quoting Thomas Gold, a professor emeritus at Cornell University. "[O]il is actually a renewable, primordial syrup continually manufactured by the Earth under ultrahot conditions and tremendous pressures. As [it] migrates toward the surface, it is attacked by bacteria, making it appear to have an organic origin dating back to the dinosaurs." Also quoted was Dr. Jean Whelan, a senior researcher at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who studied Eugene Island 330. Formerly a firm believer in the fossil fuel theory, her researches convinced her that the alternative is correct. "Now, she says, 'I believe there is a huge system of oil just migrating' deep underground."

Further backing for the abiotic theory is found in the work of geologist J. F. Kenney of the Gas Resources Corporation. Nature summarized his findings in 2002: "[Kenney's team] mimicked conditions more than 100 kilometers below the earth's surface by heating marble, iron oxide and water to around 1,500° C and 50,000 times atmospheric pressure. They produced traces of methane, the main constituent of natural gas, and octane, the hydrocarbon molecule that makes petrol. A mathematical model of the process suggests that, apart from methane, none of the ingredients of petroleum could form at depths less than 100 kilometers."

As Kenney himself has written, "Beginning in 1964, Soviet scientists carried out extensive theoretical statistical thermodynamic analysis which established explicitly that the hypothesis of evolution of hydrocarbon molecules (except methane) from biogenic ones in the temperature and pressure regime of the Earth's near-surface crust was glaringly in violation of the second law of thermodynamics." As for the practical consequences, he adds, "The [abiotic] theory is presently applied extensively throughout the former U.S.S.R. as the guiding perspective for petroleum exploration and... there are presently more than 80 oil and gas fields in the Caspian district alone which were explored and developed by applying [this] theory and which produce from the crystalline basement rock [i.e. where there could be no organic source for a fossil fuel]."

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Mon, 06 Feb 2012, 6:14pm #9
supamark
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some light reading on the subject

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiotic_oil

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Mon, 06 Feb 2012, 6:26pm #10
SimonB
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Even if there is some abiotic oil produced, does it make any difference to the likelyhood of future shortages if the extraction rate is many times the production ?


"nanotechnology is going to be huge" (Lord Sainsbury).

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Mon, 06 Feb 2012, 10:10pm #11
Generic
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We have the ability to harvest energy on the surface in numerous ways. How about we take advantage of that rather than dumping more resources into an industry who's time has passed?


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Tue, 07 Feb 2012, 5:19am #12
Lensman
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[edit] The claims I've read elsewhere about abiotic oil is that there are vast deep underground deposits which far exceed the amount of petroleum from biological sources. My comments below are directed at that scenario, which I regard as mere wishful thinking. [/edit]

An essentially inexhaustible (for a few generations, anyway) source of cheap oil would keep Big Oil as the energy monopoly; it would kill the movement towards clean energy; it would put the brakes on the EV revolution. Probably not stop it, because sooner or later, EVs will be cheaper to make, maintain and repair; but it would remove the sense of urgency about switching to EVs.

It would shift the global balance of power away from the Mideast, to wherever such deep reservoirs of oil are most accessible.

And it would certainly cause the level of air pollution to continue to rise, probably exponentially; so, more health problems, more shortened lives. It would also cause the CO2 (not a pollutant!) level to continue to rise; so if you believe in AGW, and if you believe CO2 contributes significantly to that, you'll believe global warming will become worse and worse.

But so far, the evidence for anything more than sparse chemical traces-- individual molecules-- of abiotic oil in any one place, is about as substantial as the evidence for LENR. http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g194/Lensman03/Smileys/SmileySmlWink.gif There doesn't seem to be any rational reason for thinking abiotic oil, if it does exist, will ever be found concentrated in quantities sufficient to be worth pumping out of the ground.

Last edited Thu, 09 Feb 2012, 3:44pm by Lensman


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Tue, 07 Feb 2012, 5:27am #13
Lensman
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TLee wrote:

This theory answers one of the most nagging questions about the origin of oil. A 1974 article in the Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists put it this way: "All giant [oil] fields are most logically explained by inorganic theory because simple calculations of potential hydrocarbon contents shows that organic materials are too few to supply the volumes of petroleum involved." A 1999 Wall Street Journal article concurred, stating that most geologists, "are hard-pressed to explain why the world's greatest oil pool, the Middle East, has more than doubled its reserves in the past 20 years, despite [the] 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."

Horse hockey. Chemical analysis of petroleum from *every* source has always shown a biological origin. This is purest nonsense.


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Tue, 07 Feb 2012, 10:09pm #14
DeedleTwo
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And further: Petroleum is from the Carboniferous era, not from dinosaurs but rather algae and plants. No one credibly claims there is any dinosaur involvement in petroleum.

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Wed, 08 Feb 2012, 4:02am #15
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Abiotic oil would lead to a temporary increase in discovery due to new exploration candidate geologies. We already act like it is an exhaustible source so no change there. Abiotic candidates are still just as costly to extract. Overall, the change would be fleeting barring some economically beneficial alternative. We won't respond to environmental disadvantages until they are fundamentally economic in nature. As long as capitalism is driving the bus, the road we follow will be about money. It's not any more complicated than that.


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Wed, 08 Feb 2012, 5:33am #16
EricOlthwaite
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abiotic oil is a bullshit, the only reason this idea has any traction is because word abiotic sounds scientific

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