New paper – AGW sooners, stake your “drill baby drill” ice free claims now!

Richard North of the EU Referendum sends word of this new paper. I’m sure Greenpeace won’t be amused as more polar bears turn into dumpster divers with this new influx of miners and drillers in the new ice free future.

After the Ice Melts: Conflict Resolution and the International Scramble for Natural Resources in the Arctic Circle

File:Oklahoma Land Rush.jpg

Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 - Image: wikimedia

Wei-en Tan, Department of Diplomacy, National Chengchi University, Yu-tai Tsai Institute of Strategic and International Affairs Studies, National Chung Cheng University No. 64, Sec. 2, Chinan Rd., Taipei 11605, Taiwan (PDF available here )

Abstract

It is a well-known fact that global warming is melting the Arctic ice cap.

As this happens, the natural resources in the Arctic will become available for exploitation. As such, the five countries with major claims to the region—the United States, Canada, Russia, Denmark, and Norway—are looking to extend their claims to the natural resources beneath the ice-covered ocean. The size of the Arctic Shelf is about 4.5 million square kilometers, and the U.S. Geological Survey posits that 25 percent of the world’s undiscovered gas and oil reserves may be there. Clearly, there are large amounts of untapped resources that these five countries could use to satisfy their increasing demand for development and economy.
This paper will try to explore the current disputes over Arctic seabed resources surrounding the five states in North Pole, evaluate the regimes for resolving the conflict in UNCLOS. Furthermore, the paper will introduce the appropriate points
of view and discuss the alternative dispute settlement mechanism (DSM) for this significant problem caused by global warming in the coming future.

It is very clear that the Arctic region stands at the threshold of significant changes. The increasing rate at which the Arctic ice is melting will surely have a major impact on local ecosystems and the potential exploitation of natural resources. By virtue of their sovereign rights and jurisdiction, the five countries with claims to the Arctic region are presently at a critical juncture for addressing their current and future conflicts of interest. This paper explores the current disputes over Arctic Ocean resources and evaluates the mechanisms in UNCLOS for resolving these kinds of disputes. Furthermore, this paper introduces the viewpoints and discusses the alternative dispute settlement mechanisms (DSM) which can be employed to solve this kind of significant problem.

Conclusion

Global warming has not only challenged the authority of UNCLOS and its legal regime for resolving disputes relating to the continental shelf under the Arctic Ocean, but has also marked the beginning of the end for freedom of the high seas in the Arctic region. In addition to its environmental implications, global warming has caused a shift in the way the international community regards the Arctic, shifting the paradigm away from physical dominion and towards control over resources on the sea floor. The unprecedented access to untapped resources brought about by the receding permafrost in the Arctic Circle may soon cause an international gold rush as well as a variety of conflicts.

The conflicts over the Arctic region are unlikely to be resolved within the very near future. With five major states making claims to extensive parts of the Arctic seabed, there is a lot of scientific and professional work that needs to be done. Fortunately, there has been one good development since the conflict began. On May 28, 2008, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the United States came together for the Arctic Ocean Conference in Greenland. (Note 66) The goal of the Conference, initiated by Denmark’s Foreign Minister, was to foster unity and cooperation in the Arctic area so as to prevent an environmental catastrophe. The result of the Conference was the Ilulissat Declaration. This document states that no new legal framework will be set up to govern the Arctic. Instead, the parties agreed to proceed using the guidelines set forth in UNCLOS. (Note 67) While this Declaration is not necessarily ground-breaking, it is encouraging in that it signals a willingness of the involved Arctic states to work together in settling their disputes.

73 thoughts on “New paper – AGW sooners, stake your “drill baby drill” ice free claims now!

  1. Lewis Pugh can haul drilling equipment on his kayak up to the pole, along with Catlin’s human powered dog sled. They just need to wait for the temperature to get above minus 45 C.

  2. Anthony, you really should put a current graph of Arctic ice in this article. Or send it to them. Something tells me we will be waiting a long time for oil out of the frozen parts of the Arctic.

  3. In years gone bye there was a saying that “paper doesn’t refuse ink” when someone printed something worthless. Is there a similar statement in existence for the digital age?

    Maybe “pixels display without questioning” or some such thing.

    How many ice free weeks each summer would be needed to move into the area in question, accomplish something economically, and return to a safe place? Will the planned exploitation of resources be a yearly affair or can it be sustained with 70% or so ice free area once every 25 years?

    Hypothetical questions for it is clear that in about 5 years all the ice on the Arctic Ocean will be gone and will only reappear at rare and random intervals.

  4. Well if you have been listening to the great Oracle in his daily photo-op teleprompter reads; you would already know that he is opening up new oil leases off Virginia; but closing them everywhere else where the USA has oil.

    In particular he has closed all offshore drillling anwhere where the Alaskan winds happen to blow in the arctic.

    I just secured a nice deal on a lease off Virginia myself. Well this area has always been open for leases; it’s just closed for drilling; and will remain so.

    I got a pristine location that is just 417 Nautical Miles off the coast of Virginia, in only 26,400 feet of water; really nice surroundings.

    But yes I only have a lease; I’m not allowed to drill for oil there, and already the envir-wackos are suing me just for having the lease.

    It’s all just a scam to make you think that the Oracle is moving to the center on energy; just before he gets ready to railroad through his Royal Decree on cap and tax on CO2; which he needs to fund his Socialist health takeover, that we just got saddled with.

    So if you imagine for a minute that anybody is going to drill for oil on any real estate that is below mean lower low sea level anywhere near the USA; you can forget it.

  5. Ooh, ooh.
    There’s a lot of stuff under the Martian permafrost too–James Hansen said so, right? All we have to do is hitch a ride with the Russians and it’s ours, ours, ours.

  6. This paper has go to be tied with some kind or funding. Meaning that if they want a renewed grant, they’d better write and publish something real quick. The gravy train is only so wide. What research is being short-sheeted for this kind of garbage?

  7. As I understand it, northern Russia is under the Canadian continental shelf. So, that should settle it. :)

  8. There’s a lot of land under the Antarctic that no doubt has as much oil and mineral reserves as the other continents, and would be a lot easier to get at than under the Arctic ocean: click1, click2

    Problem is, the Antarctic ice cap isn’t going to melt away.

    And neither is the Arctic.

    But there’s plenty of hydrocarbons on Titan: click

  9. How does Denmark have a claim to drilling rights? Denmark is far from the Arctic.

    Clearly Canada is the most suitable custodian of the resources (and as Canada is Crown territory, the whole lot ultimately belongs to Britain anyway ;-)

    Problem solved, any questions?

    Good, thats settled

    (God, I love being a Brit!)

    All we have to do now is wait for the ice to melt and we can sell it to the Chinese.

  10. Yeah, like they really care about thier AGW theory. They would surely cry all the way to the bank if the Arctic were to melt away.

  11. I am more and more convinced that Warmists live in a parallel universe, a sort of climate Wonderland, where down is up, cold is hot, good is bad and lies are truth. This paper is just more proof of it.

  12. The ladies for rent at Copenhagen can go open saloons on the North Shores of Russia. Waxman can call the planet in for interrogation and hearings. All this action may be too progressive for the tree huggers.

  13. The Trans Arctic pipeline…hmmm.

    Quite the logistics problem to get oil to market would you not think?
    Companies could loose their shirts in this one.

  14. “Companies could loose their shirts in this one.”

    Well, as long as it is those ladies for rent at Copenhagen who loose their shirts!!

  15. Carbon Dioxide (17:14:36) :
    How does Denmark have a claim to drilling rights? Denmark is far from the Arctic.

    A legacy of Leif Ericson. AD 970 – AD. 1020 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leif_Ericson

    Denmark rules Greenland, so they actually have the 2nd best claim after the Inuits, possibly even ahead of them too, as one theory is that the last Greenland Viking residents were killed off by Inuits moving into the area as the MWP ended.

    Maybe a little off topic- but looking up the exact dates got me thinking.

    Ericson Lived from 970 – 1020
    King Canute lived from 985 or 995 – 1035
    The Medieval Warm Period lasted from AD 950–1250

    This means that Ericson discovered Greenland in 1002 or 1003, only 50 years into the warming period, and there is evidence that the permafrost and ice extent were less at that stage than they are now.

    That means that either the warming was very fast indeed, or the pre MWP climate was warmer (and ice extent lower) than modern times.

    That is why I included Canute. He has been mentioned by both sides of the AGW debate (usually sarcastically), but I have not seen anyone spot or comment on the significance of WHEN he lived.

    Canute was a contemporary of Ericson. They both lived near the start of the MWP. Canute’s subjects hoped that he would be able to hold back the tide. Significant? Maybe, if you were getting large sea level rises and people were legitimately worried about it.

    When I was at school sea level rise was taught as one of the triggers of the Saxons and later the Vikings invasions of England.

    We get bombarded with statements about the current warming being unprecedented, but I’d suggest that the MWP warming happened much more dramatically, and likewise sea level rise- enough to be easily detectable without sophisticated measuring equipment.

  16. Leon Brozyna (16:39:37) :

    Talk about counting your chickens before the eggs have hatched

    Leon -the eggs haven’t even left the Chicken yet..

  17. Whenever I read something that starts, ‘it is a well known fact that….”, my bogosity meter is already heading towards high signal territory.

  18. Quoting:
    “It is a well-known fact that global warming is melting the Arctic ice cap.”
    Commenting:
    Please look at this graph:

    http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm

    Notice that today (red line), we are virtually tied for the Largest Area of Arctic Sea Ice for this date for the LAST 8 YEARS. Notice that last year in May (orange line) the sea ice set a New Record HIGH. Notice that last year (orange again) the summer minimum was One MILLION square kilometers MORE sea ice than 2007. That is to say, 25 PERCENT – or one forth – MORE!

    The FACT is that arctic sea ice is GROWING! (thump, thump,thump…is this thing on…do they hear me out there…?)

  19. This mantra is getting so old that the chicken can’t even HAVE eggs anymore!

    Cluck cluck.

  20. Quoting: Smokey (17:10:15) :
    “But there’s plenty of hydrocarbons on Titan”
    Commenting:
    Few people appreciate what we have learned from Titan: That hydrocarbons can be produced by non biological processes (which is not a favored viewpoint in petroleum science) OR…that there is life on Titan! No gettin’ around it. It’s one or the other!

  21. If Tommy Gold was right with his Deep Hot Biosphere, then oil isn’t a problem. It’s the cockamamy belief that oil is biogenic that is the problem. The Russians and Vietnamese must be laughing besides themselves with the self inflicted economy destroying nonsense of the West.

  22. There is an implication in the article that oil & gas exploration in Arctic waters is not currently happening & that this would somehow change in the future with less arctic ice.

    Not True.

    There is both exploration & production currently ongoing in Arctic waters.

    See links:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN3124268420100331?type=marketsNews

    http://www.tradingmarkets.com/news/press-release/shoi_shell-one-step-closer-to-drilling-in-beaufort-chukchi-seas-708856.html

    http://www.allbusiness.com/north-america/united-states-alaska/983129-1.html

    http://www.offshore-technology.com/projects/premier_ooguruk/

    (The last link is my favorite as it is a discovery my company made)

    http://www.adn.com/2010/02/16/1142601/eni-petroleum-set-to-produce-nikaitchuq.html

    (This is my second favorite as this is another discovery we made which will be coming online later this year)

    http://www.offshore-mag.com/index/article-display/351398/articles/offshore/production/russia/gazprom-looks-at-offshore-arctic.html

    http://www.offshore-environment.com/russianoil.html

    http://www.onepetro.org/mslib/servlet/onepetropreview?id=00013314&soc=SPE

    etc, etc – I wont bore you with further links (although there are tons more). Needless to say, Arctic Oil & Gas operations are very active right now in all the countries listed above, regardless of what arctic ice is doing.

  23. I actually feel a little guilty for this comment because I want to applaud the IJIS for putting their data online for public scrutiny. However, the following is the sort of non-scientific fudge that we all find annoying:

    “The black dot seen at the North Pole is an area lacking data where AMSR-E cannot observe the Earth’s surface due to the limit of its observational coverage (i.e., orbit inclination of 98deg. and swath width of 1600km). Please note that this area is also counted as sea-ice cover in our estimation of sea-ice extent. We may change the policy (i.e., filling the gap with full coverage of sea ice) in the near future due to the recent drastic reduction of Arctic sea ice. We will announce this if it is implemented.”

    I have two problems with this: the first is that their procedure to deal with the missing data is not to compute statistics that are not sensitive to this data gap but to infill the gap with interpolations and then mix that into the actual data set; and, the second is that their procedure is entirely ad hoc — instead of infilling in a bias free fashion they’ve arbitrarily decided that the pole is iced over and intend to arbitrarily decide that it’s not iced over at some other time. This is just not a “data careful” methodology.

  24. This sounds so much like the old “I’ve got some (swamp) land in Florida you might be interested in.”

    Don’t these speculators even do due diligence regarding the prospects? Or do they just read the liberal rags for important information before making plans for drilling?

  25. I know I have asked the unaskable before, but one of these days I’ll get a good response.
    Much ado about Sea Level rise when in reality it’s more like Sea Level creep.
    What are the implications of Sea Level drop (besides the offlining of the Suez and Panama Canals)?

  26. Robert Kral (21:03:16) :
    It’s a well-known fact that monkeys fly out of my nose each morning.

    That’s REALLY got to hurt….unless, of course, they are sea monkeys!

  27. Hmmmm…. I have a feeling that oil leases on the moon might be more economic…. Bruce Willis could bring in a wildcat….

  28. Joe (17:29:57) :
    “The Trans Arctic pipeline…hmmm.
    Quite the logistics problem to get oil to market would you not think?
    Companies could loose their shirts in this one.”

    lol, Joe. We offshore pipe-liners are a hardy and inventive bunch of people but truth to tell, I, for one, will stick with “Pulling Pipe” where it is warmer especially as Obama has decided to open up some new areas. Wonder what the EPA think about his decision

  29. Truely AMAZING.

    The level of ignorance, incompetance (or outright lying fraud) of these people is stunning.

    If they havent even made the effort to check the data for Arctic sea ice level, and they publish this rubbish, then these fools should be sacked.

    NEWS ALERT FOR THESE FOOLS – ARTIC SEA ICE IS INCREASING, AND IS AT NORMAL LEVELS AS WE SPEAK.

  30. It is a well-known fact that global warming can not melt the Arctic Ice! Only regional warming could. Regional warming could be caused by global warming, of course, but global warming cannot directly melt anything. Other changes, like more sunlight or changing ocean currents could also melt the Arctic Ice. Since observations of clouds in the Arctic show a decrease in low clouds at the same time as the reduce in ice cover, it is likely that this is the main cause of the Arctic Ice melt. After all, less low cloud cover means more sunligth reaching the surface, leading to more rapid ice melt in the summer.

  31. It was not Leif Erikson that discovered Greenland. It was his father Erik the Red, and it happened in 986 AD.
    Leif Eriksson got off course going to Greenland and discovered America instead c. AD 1000.

  32. Very funny quote from Pravda March 25:

    http://english.pravda.ru/russia/politics/25-03-2010/112732-climate_russia-0

    “Canada’s new-found megalomania is the least of Russia’s worries: How can climate change in the Arctic threaten her national security? ”

    “From Canada, Russia has become used to seeing and hearing positions of sheer arrogance, unadulterated insolence and provocative intrusion. Take for example Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s declaration that Canada is “an Arctic Superpower”………”

    Arctic 10 minute storm-in-a-teacup has hotted right up! Unlike the ice.

    Darn these provocative Canadians!

  33. I never thought I’d see the day when Norway and Denmark were referred to as ‘major states’.

  34. “It is very clear that the Arctic region stands at the threshold of significant changes. The increasing rate at which the Arctic ice is melting will surely have a major impact on local ecosystems and the potential exploitation of natural resources.”

    Now this is going to be fun bearing in mind:

    http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm

    http://arctic-roos.org/observations/satellite-data/sea-ice/ice-area-and-extent-in-arctic

    http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/icecover.uk.php

    and that Arctic ice was thicker than expected In 2009

    http://www.awi.de/en/news/press_releases/detail/item/research_aircraft_polar_5_finishes_arctic_expedition_unique_measurement_flights_in_the_central_arc/?cHash=e36036fcb4

  35. For those who were told and who repeat the canard that Canute thought he could roll back the tide, not so: Canute used the inevitablity of the tide as a parable, as many shrewd teachers do, to teach his followers that there were some things outside his influence.
    And who said that Chinese academics have no sense of humour?

  36. Lars Kaml (22:36:20) :

    It is a well-known fact that global warming can not melt the Arctic Ice! Only regional warming could.

    Scientists are too lazy to look at it regionally as it would be too much work.
    Our climate circulation only goes to the equator and back again due to planetary rotation and the shape of the planet.

  37. Anything that starts with “It is a well-known fact that” immediately makes me stop reading the balance. If it starts off with “It has been established by XXX in his/her work YYY and by ZZZ in his/her work AAA” then I will continue. Otherwise I understand that the balance of what follows is dumpster food for the polar bears.

  38. Well, in today’s London Times, there’s a story running about Obama setting light to the torch paper for drilling rights from DC round the Eastern Seaboard and into the Gulf of Mexico.

    Seems like he reckons that we might as well get oil staying warm and, if we warm up the planet enough by burning that lot, then maybe by 2050 we might need to go North.

    On the same day, our Climate Guru Ed Miliband, who freely admits that he doesn’t understand the science so he takes a few scientists’ word for it, wants to press ahead with a son-of-Kyoto which will be signed by all but China, who will thus feel frightened enough to roll meekly down and join in.

    Time will tell. And Miliband might be looking for work in a few weeks anyway.

  39. Hmmm, the National Sea and Ice Data Center’s (NSIDC) Arctic Sea Ice website is down:
    “We’re experiencing technical difficulties. Please bear with us, we’ll have things up and running again as soon as possible.

    Need to talk to us? You can always contact our friendly User Services Office at nsidc@nsidc.org or + 1 303.492.6199. ”

    http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

    April fools joke, overloaded servers, or maybe an effort to hide the incline?

  40. Clearly the Arctic sea ice is holding it’s recent historic boundaries – we’ll call that a “normal” level and that is precisely how I have been interpreting the term “normal Arctic sea ice levels”.

    But haven’t there been Arctic ice-free periods (as well as ice-ages) in relatively recent geologic times? So what is the big deal… It seems to me that if say half the arctic ice disappeared; for whatever reason – name a favorite theory – that it would also be well, different, but not catastrophically worse in itself.

    Further, if for whatever reason, all Arctic ice were to melt, then there would be consequences to consider. One consequence of such a scenario is a freely navigable Arctic ocean and yes the bounding countries would be handed a huge benefit and they would be well-served to discuss things before they all started fighting over the goodies.

    Continuing on this logic, vast tracts of uninhabitable land would become usable. How does all this spell disaster? World-wide warming and the associated Arctic warming would make the world different. And I believe that’s about all we can say.

  41. West Houston (18:50:53) :

    Quoting: Smokey (17:10:15) :
    “But there’s plenty of hydrocarbons on Titan”
    Commenting:
    Few people appreciate what we have learned from Titan: That hydrocarbons can be produced by non biological processes (which is not a favored viewpoint in petroleum science) OR…that there is life on Titan! No gettin’ around it. It’s one or the other!

    Louis Hissink (19:01:05) :

    If Tommy Gold was right with his Deep Hot Biosphere, then oil isn’t a problem. It’s the cockamamy belief that oil is biogenic that is the problem. The Russians and Vietnamese must be laughing besides themselves with the self inflicted economy destroying nonsense of the West.

    While it is true that abiogenic methane (CH4) appears to be a common occurrence… Abiogenic complex hydrocarbons have not been found in anything more than trace quantities, anywhere.

    The four gas giants of this solar system may have trace quantities of ethane, but abiongenic hydrocarbon generation doesn’t seem to get much beyond CH4.

    Back on topic… “It is a well-known fact that global warming is melting the Arctic ice cap.”

    Even if that “well-known fact” was true and accurate, the Artic would only be relatively ice-free during summer. The Hibernia platform is 20° south of the Arctic Circle. It required extensive ice shields to protect it from icebergs and sea ice… Hibernia Ice Management

    I somehow doubt that the Arctic Ocean will suddenly become “easy pickings” because the summers become like Hibernia’s winters. Even if the fields are developed using sub-sea completions, the work would all have to be done in summer. The logistics in a best case scenario are nightmarish.

  42. David Middleton (08:50:48) :

    The best currently available science is overwhelming that complex hydrocarbons (oil) and most natural gas is abiotic.

    There is little scientific evidence and no constrained chemical reaction process that explaines the so-called “fossil” theory that organic detritus becomes complex, high chemical potential energy, hydrocarbons.

    All the “fossil” theory proponents have for their hypothesis is a vague assumption that oil is formed in a two-step process, diagenesis and catagenesis, where somehow, yes, somehow, low chemical potential energy organic detritus via diagenesis turns into heavy hydrocarbons (C215H330), and then is broken down via catagenesis into lighter hydrocarbons (oil & gas).

    But that descriptive is never constrained and is specific as it gets.

    No specific chemical reaction pathway has EVER been identified.

    “I have gone to the best geologists and the best petroleum researchers, and I can give you the authoritative answer: No one knows.” — Edward Teller on how living matter is converted into petroleum (Teller,1979)

    Of course, Edward Teller is more famously known as a physicist and “father of the hydrogen bomb.” Nothing has changed since Teller made his statement.

    In contrast, Abiotic Oil has been described and explained by specific chemical reaction pathways and the physical conditions (temperature & pressure) the chemical reactions take place under have been identified.

    A corollary to the “fossil” theory is the so-called “oil window” where supposedly heavy hydrocarbons (the result of “diagnesis”) undergo catagenesis ONLY between 7,500 feet and 15,000 feet deep withing a specific temperature range. After a maximum temperature ceiling is surpassed, heavy hydrocarbons supposedly are broken down into nautural gas and not oil.

    A summary of the so-called “oil window” corollary to the “fossil” theory:

    “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. For petroleum geologists this is not just a matter of theory, but of repeated and sometimes costly experience: they speak of an oil “window” that exists from roughly 7,500 feet to 15,000 feet, within which temperatures are appropriate for oil formation; look far outside the window, and you will most likely come up with a dry hole or, at best, natural gas only.” — Richard Heinberg, “peak” oil advocate

    However, ultra-deep drilling in ultra-deep water has falsified the “oil window” corollary. Oil has been found at depths exceeding 25,000 feet deep and in waters as deep as 8,000 feet deep and the clincher, this oil has temperatures as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit, well beyond the supposed maximum temperature of the “oil window”.

    April 28, 2008 (Bloomberg) — Brazil Oil Trapped by 500-Degree Heat, Salt Barrier — “Brazil’s plan to become one of the world’s biggest oil exporters hinges on exploiting crude 6 miles below the ocean surface in deposits so hot they can melt the metal used to carry uranium to nuclear plants.

    Tapping what may be the biggest oil finds in the Western Hemisphere in three decades will require equipment that can withstand 18,000 pounds per square inch of pressure, enough to crush a pickup truck, pipes that can carry oil at temperatures above 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 Celsius) and drill bits that can penetrate layers of salt more than one mile thick.”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601086&sid=aalWn.eJHGZk&refer=latin_america

    Another report from McClatchy news service provides more documentation of the falsification of the “oil window”.

    December 1, 2007 (McClatchy) — Massive deep-water oil find in Brazil challenges technology — “In 2005, U.S.-based Chevron and its partners drilled the deepest offshore oil and gas well in history at 34,189 feet below sea level in the Gulf of Mexico, according to Transocean, the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor, which completed the well.”

    “The dangers come with the intense water pressure and heat, which can damage even the hardiest of metal drills. Temperatures 30,000 feet below the ocean floor can reach 400 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to turn oil into natural gas.”

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2007/12/01/22225/massive-deep-water-oil-find-in.html

    Petroleum geologists relying on the “oil window” corollary predicted there would not be any ultra-deep oil in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico:

    From January 2010 issue of Offshore magazine, an oil & gas trade publication:

    “Subsequently in the early 2000s, few geologists expected to find significant oil traps in the Lower Tertiary. The skeptics have been proven wrong with the discovery of long Lower Tertiary oil pay zones [Gulf of Mexico]. These discoveries will require development efforts of several decades. Will the operators then discover another frontier beyond the Lower Tertiary in the abyssal depths of greater than 12,000 ft (3,658 m) in the Sigsbee Deep?”

    http://www.offshore-mag.com/index/article-display/7102345141/articles/offshore/volume-70/issue-1/gulf-of_mexico/lower-tertiary_play.html

    And the oil companies are developing technology that will allow reaching much deeper and hotter oil:

    “In December 2008, Baker Hughes inaugurated its Center for Technology Innovation (CTI) in Houston. The primary focus of this facility is to develop next-generation completion and production tools for HP/HT conditions typically found in the Lower Tertiary wells. “The CTI is capable of testing full-size prototypes of the next generation of completion and production equipment in a test environment with gas pressure up to 40,000 psi and temperature up to 700° F (371° C),” says Rustom Mody, Baker Hughes vice president of Technology.”

    More evidence that irreparably falsifies the “oil window” and thus the whole “fossil”, organic detritus hypothesis.

    And to top that off, the oil industry supports Abiotic Oil research. Stanley B. Keith heads Sonoita Geoscience Research an oil industry supported consortium that researches Abiotic Oil.

    A partial passage from the professional biography of Stanley B. Keith:

    “Currently he is a founding researcher with Sonoita Geoscience Research, an industry-supported consortium that applies hydrothermal and economic geological theory and techniques to petroleum exploration.” — full professional biography available at the end of the below link:

    http://www.hgs.org/en/art/?34

    For more scientific evidence supporting Abiotic Oil in the form of scientific papers, news reports, and articles from oil & gas trade publications:

    http://www.thunderbolts.info/forum/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2150&start=120#p31833

    To reaffirm: Abiotic Oil is a physical reality. The overwhelming body of scientific evidence supports that conclusion.

    When the general public is informed of the full body of scientific evidence supporting Abiotic Oil, they will understand that oil is a mineral derived from precursor minerals in an ongoing chemical reaction process deep in the bowels of the Earth.

    And, most important, the surface has hardly been scratched in exploring offshore territory for ultra-deep drilling, ultra-deep water Abiotic Oil.

  43. Having had a hard look at JAXA and Cryosphere today (and I have never seen such a uniform dark shade of purple at CT on this date), I am now leaning towards calling Steve Goddard an overly cautious conservative. I think 6.xM needs to be in play as a possible result for Arctic min this year.

    Go ahead and take a look at every March 31st in the CT record since 1980. It’s striking –so far as I can tell unprecedented in the satellite record even– how compact the ice pack is right now as max approaches. At this moment, 2010 makes 2006 look like a rotten ice festival.

    Unless CT has poohed the screwch, 6.xM km2 looks very much in play to me.

  44. Hmm. Maybe the CT comparison tool is wonky. The date comparison tool image for 3/31/2010 looks quite a bit different than the 3/31/2010 image in the upper left of the main page.

    Wassup with that? Difference in resolution between the main page pic and the comparison tool pics? If that’s all it is, then I stick with the above that 3/31/2010 is quite striking on a apples-to-apples basis (i.e. the comparison tool) to previous years.

  45. I should note that the oil companies are investigating the possibility that oil deposits stretch across the Atlantic Ocean all the way from the coast of Brazil to the West coast of Africa:

    Cramped on Land, Big Oil Bets at Sea
    by Ben Casselman and Guy Chazan
    Wednesday, January 6, 2010
    provided by The Wall Street Journal

    http://finance.yahoo.com/real-estate/article/108509/cramped-on-land-big-oil-bets-at-sea

    “Beyond the Gulf of Mexico, companies have announced big finds off the coasts of Brazil and Ghana, leading some experts to suggest the existence of a massive oil reservoir stretching across the Atlantic from Africa to South America. Production from deepwater projects — those in water at least 1,000 feet deep — grew by 67%, or by about 2.3 million barrels a day, between 2005 and 2008, according to PFC Energy, a Washington consulting firm.”

    “So, Chevron and other major oil companies are moving ever farther from shore in search of oil. That quest is paying off as these companies discover unexpectedly large quantities of oil — oil that only they have the technology and financial muscle to find and produce.”

    And, oil has been found and produced 230 miles off the coast of Brazil:

    June 23, 2009 (Reuters) — Chevron begins production at Frade field in Brazil — “Crude oil from Frade, located some 230 miles (370 km) from Rio de Janeiro in 3,700 feet (1,128 meters) of water, will be shipped to other markets, while the natural gas is slated for use in Brazil.”

    “Chevron Corp (CVX.N) announced on Tuesday a slightly earlier start of oil output at the Frade field, a $3 billion project off Brazil’s coast expected to produce 90,000 barrels per day by 2011.”

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN23120220090623

    The search for additional American oil is going deeper on the continental American landmass, as well as in the Gulf of Mexico:

    January 20, 2010 (Bloomberg) — Texas Wildcatter Moncrief Hits Latest Gusher Beneath Old Fields — “William “Tex” Moncrief, the billionaire wildcatter and scion of one of the founding families of the Texas oil industry, is betting the key to finding new gushers is to go deeper than anyone has gone before.”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=aewqoZXWbkeU&pos=14

    “McMoRan said today that its Davy Jones well found additional hydrocarbon-bearing sands after drilling deeper following the discovery announced last week. The well was drilled to 28,603 feet, all but about 20 feet of that beneath the seafloor. It has found 200 net feet of productive sands and will go deeper, according to McMoRan.”

    This is all in accordance to Nikolai Kudryavtsev, a Russian geologist that posited that oil is abiotic:

    “Kudryavtsev’s Rule states that any region in which hydrocarbons are found at one level will also have hydrocarbons in large or small quantities at all levels down to and into the basement rock. Thus, where oil and gas deposits are found, there will often be coal seams above them. Gas is usually the deepest in the pattern, and can alternate with oil. All petroleum deposits have a capstone generally impermeable to carbon’s upward migration, and this capstone leads to the accumulation of the hydrocarbon.”

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

    A shorthand for Kudryavtsev’s Rule:

    Where there’s oil, there’s more oil — if you go deeper.

    Apparently William “Tex” Moncrief has taken Kudryavtsev’s Rule to heart and put his money where his mouth is — and gone deeper…

    As abiotic oil theory states that oil emanates from: The faults, cracks, and fissures in the basement (bedrock).

    Oil companies are acting on this realization by mapping the basement, tectonic fault pattern of the Gulf of Mexico:

    Offshore magazine presents an article: Imaging challenges in deepwater US/Mexico border zone, published January 1, 2010:

    http://www.offshore-mag.com/index/article-display/0314992580/articles/offshore/volume-70/issue-1/geology-__geophysics/imaging-challenges.html

    “Delineation [mapping] of an integrated basement surface across the area…basement density and susceptibility, location of open salt feeders, and the position of the COB…Enhanced delineation of basement structure has lead to a better understanding of the original salt depositional environment and rift morphology, which in turn has had a significant control on subsequent salt mobilization…The work confirmed that basement structure is dominated by NW-SE and NE-SW trending lineaments/faults. Deep allochthonous salt mobilization is controlled by many of these features.”

    No discussion of ‘source rocks’ in the whole article.

    Oh, by the way, no geologic shallow lakes were ever present 230 miles off the coast of Brazil, or over 25,000 feet below the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico…

  46. Seems I’ve left a crack in my argument:

    Evans (12:42:05) stated : “In contrast, Abiotic Oil has been described and explained by specific chemical reaction pathways and the physical conditions (temperature & pressure) the chemical reactions take place under have been identified.”

    But I failed to present any documentation of that assertion.

    Let me rectify the situation:

    Peridotites, Serpentinization, and Hydrocarbons

    Stanley B. Keith and Monte M. Swan
    MagmaChem, L.L.C, Sonoita, AZ

    http://www.searchanddiscovery.com/documents/2006/06088houston_abs/abstracts/keith.htm

    “Serpentinization of peridotites by oceanic or metamorphic sourced brines under strongly reduced conditions and temperatures of 200-500 C produces hydrocarbon-rich, chloride and/or bicarbonate metal-bearing brines. Serpentinization is common on the ocean floor along fracture zones (Lost City), beneath conventional petroleum in rifts due to sedimentary burial (Gulf of Mexico) or thrust loading (Roan Trough), and at the top of flat subducting oceanic crust (Eocene beneath UT, CO, WY). Peridotites exhibit high-gravity, low-magnetic signatures. Serpentinized peridotites exhibit high-magnetic, low-gravity signatures. Volume expansion during serpentinization of up to 8X causes diapiric doming and induces expulsion of hydrocarbon-stable brines.”

    And, Keith & Swan explicitly distinguish between these abiotic chemical reactions which form hydrocarbons from the “fossil”, organic detritus hypothesis:

    Hydrothermal Hydrocarbons

    http://www.searchanddiscovery.com/documents/abstracts/2005research_calgary/abstracts/extended/keith/keith.htm

    “Hydrocarbon origin theories have focused on: 1) generation of gas and crude oil via burial diagenesis of biogenic, organic-rich sedimentary rocks, and 2) abiogenic hydrocarbon generation in the mantle. We suggest a third possibility–the generation of methane and heavier hydrocarbons through reactions that occur during cooling, fractionation, and deposition of dolomitic carbonates, metal-rich black shales, and other minerals from hydrothermal metagenic fluids. These fluids are proposed to be the product of serpentinization of carbon-rich peridotites under hydrogen-rich, reduced conditions.”

  47. James F. Evans (12:42:05) :

    David Middleton (08:50:48) :

    The best currently available science is overwhelming that complex hydrocarbons (oil) and most natural gas is abiotic.

    There is little scientific evidence and no constrained chemical reaction process that explaines the so-called “fossil” theory that organic detritus becomes complex, high chemical potential energy, hydrocarbons.

    All the “fossil” theory proponents have for their hypothesis is a vague assumption that oil is formed in a two-step process, diagenesis and catagenesis, where somehow, yes, somehow, low chemical potential energy organic detritus via diagenesis turns into heavy hydrocarbons (C215H330), and then is broken down via catagenesis into lighter hydrocarbons (oil & gas).

    But that descriptive is never constrained and is specific as it gets.

    No specific chemical reaction pathway has EVER been identified.

    “I have gone to the best geologists and the best petroleum researchers, and I can give you the authoritative answer: No one knows.” — Edward Teller on how living matter is converted into petroleum (Teller,1979)

    Of course, Edward Teller is more famously known as a physicist and “father of the hydrogen bomb.” Nothing has changed since Teller made his statement.

    In contrast, Abiotic Oil has been described and explained by specific chemical reaction pathways and the physical conditions (temperature & pressure) the chemical reactions take place under have been identified.

    A corollary to the “fossil” theory is the so-called “oil window” where supposedly heavy hydrocarbons (the result of “diagnesis”) undergo catagenesis ONLY between 7,500 feet and 15,000 feet deep withing a specific temperature range. After a maximum temperature ceiling is surpassed, heavy hydrocarbons supposedly are broken down into nautural gas and not oil.

    A summary of the so-called “oil window” corollary to the “fossil” theory:

    “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. For petroleum geologists this is not just a matter of theory, but of repeated and sometimes costly experience: they speak of an oil “window” that exists from roughly 7,500 feet to 15,000 feet, within which temperatures are appropriate for oil formation; look far outside the window, and you will most likely come up with a dry hole or, at best, natural gas only.” — Richard Heinberg, “peak” oil advocate

    However, ultra-deep drilling in ultra-deep water has falsified the “oil window” corollary. Oil has been found at depths exceeding 25,000 feet deep and in waters as deep as 8,000 feet deep and the clincher, this oil has temperatures as high as 500 degrees Fahrenheit, well beyond the supposed maximum temperature of the “oil window”.

    April 28, 2008 (Bloomberg) — Brazil Oil Trapped by 500-Degree Heat, Salt Barrier — “Brazil’s plan to become one of the world’s biggest oil exporters hinges on exploiting crude 6 miles below the ocean surface in deposits so hot they can melt the metal used to carry uranium to nuclear plants.

    Tapping what may be the biggest oil finds in the Western Hemisphere in three decades will require equipment that can withstand 18,000 pounds per square inch of pressure, enough to crush a pickup truck, pipes that can carry oil at temperatures above 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 Celsius) and drill bits that can penetrate layers of salt more than one mile thick.”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601086&sid=aalWn.eJHGZk&refer=latin_america

    Another report from McClatchy news service provides more documentation of the falsification of the “oil window”.

    December 1, 2007 (McClatchy) — Massive deep-water oil find in Brazil challenges technology — “In 2005, U.S.-based Chevron and its partners drilled the deepest offshore oil and gas well in history at 34,189 feet below sea level in the Gulf of Mexico, according to Transocean, the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor, which completed the well.”

    “The dangers come with the intense water pressure and heat, which can damage even the hardiest of metal drills. Temperatures 30,000 feet below the ocean floor can reach 400 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to turn oil into natural gas.”

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2007/12/01/22225/massive-deep-water-oil-find-in.html

    Petroleum geologists relying on the “oil window” corollary predicted there would not be any ultra-deep oil in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico:

    From January 2010 issue of Offshore magazine, an oil & gas trade publication:

    “Subsequently in the early 2000s, few geologists expected to find significant oil traps in the Lower Tertiary. The skeptics have been proven wrong with the discovery of long Lower Tertiary oil pay zones [Gulf of Mexico]. These discoveries will require development efforts of several decades. Will the operators then discover another frontier beyond the Lower Tertiary in the abyssal depths of greater than 12,000 ft (3,658 m) in the Sigsbee Deep?”

    http://www.offshore-mag.com/index/article-display/7102345141/articles/offshore/volume-70/issue-1/gulf-of_mexico/lower-tertiary_play.html

    And the oil companies are developing technology that will allow reaching much deeper and hotter oil:

    “In December 2008, Baker Hughes inaugurated its Center for Technology Innovation (CTI) in Houston. The primary focus of this facility is to develop next-generation completion and production tools for HP/HT conditions typically found in the Lower Tertiary wells. “The CTI is capable of testing full-size prototypes of the next generation of completion and production equipment in a test environment with gas pressure up to 40,000 psi and temperature up to 700° F (371° C),” says Rustom Mody, Baker Hughes vice president of Technology.”

    More evidence that irreparably falsifies the “oil window” and thus the whole “fossil”, organic detritus hypothesis.

    And to top that off, the oil industry supports Abiotic Oil research. Stanley B. Keith heads Sonoita Geoscience Research an oil industry supported consortium that researches Abiotic Oil.

    A partial passage from the professional biography of Stanley B. Keith:

    “Currently he is a founding researcher with Sonoita Geoscience Research, an industry-supported consortium that applies hydrothermal and economic geological theory and techniques to petroleum exploration.” — full professional biography available at the end of the below link:

    http://www.hgs.org/en/art/?34

    For more scientific evidence supporting Abiotic Oil in the form of scientific papers, news reports, and articles from oil & gas trade publications:

    http://www.thunderbolts.info/forum/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2150&start=120#p31833

    To reaffirm: Abiotic Oil is a physical reality. The overwhelming body of scientific evidence supports that conclusion.

    When the general public is informed of the full body of scientific evidence supporting Abiotic Oil, they will understand that oil is a mineral derived from precursor minerals in an ongoing chemical reaction process deep in the bowels of the Earth.

    And, most important, the surface has hardly been scratched in exploring offshore territory for ultra-deep drilling, ultra-deep water Abiotic Oil.

    Edward Teller was correct…

    “I have gone to the best geologists and the best petroleum researchers, and I can give you the authoritative answer: No one knows.”

    Every geologist is taught that no one really knows exactly how oil is formed. However, the vast preponderance of the data and the best working hypothesis indicate that it is sourced from organic matter.

    The ultradeep exploration in the Gulf of Mexico (what I do for a living) hasn’t falsified anything. All of the oil found in the Gulf of Mexico is sourced from Tertiary and Jurassic rocks buried deep below the Plio-Pleistocene and Miocene sediments above it. It’s regular old oil. The geochemical signatures are unmistakable. Natural gas has a wider range of genesis in the Gulf. Some is a byproduct of oil formation, some is due to the thermal breakdown of oil and some is sourced in situ. Oil can be found at depths in the Gulf of Mexico at depths previously thought impossible, because there is a very low geothermal gradient and the pressures are a lot less than one would expect.

    On the Deep Tertiary in the Gulf… The reason that most of us didn’t think there was any Tertiary potential beyond the continental shelf had nothing to do with depth, heat or pressure. It was due to the fact that all of the wells drilled basinward of established Lower Tertiary production just offshore of Galveston, deep enough to test pre-Miocene objectives found no reservoir quality sands. We had no model to get pre-Miocene aged sands out there. Before Shell discovered Miocene-aged pay in the deepwater in Mississippi Canyon, the consensus was that pre-Pliocene aged reservoirs did not exist that far offshore.

    The problem wasn’t not having a conventional model for hydrocarbon formation, maturation and accumulation. The problem was in not having a sufficiently good imagination to put reservoir rocks out there. When the Deep Tertiary play was discovered, they weren’t looking for it. The first exploratory well was designed to test what was thought to be a mid-Cretaceous objective.

    McMoRan’s Davey Jones well might be a natural gas discovery. It did not find oil and there’s no evidence that the gas is abiogenic. The pay sands are Paleocene- to Eocene-aged. There’s nothing unusual about finding hydrocarbons in reservoirs of that age in that area. The unusual thing is the depth, pressure and temperatures. The hurdle at Davey Jones will be economically completing a gas well with such high reservoir temperatures and pressures… If the well is ever completed. McMoRan has been pursuing ultra-deep objectives in that area for quite a long time… Every quarter, they issue press releases about their ultra-deep program… But they haven’t exactly established much production in those areas.

    James F. Evans (20:59:10) :

    […]

    Oh, by the way, no geologic shallow lakes were ever present 230 miles off the coast of Brazil, or over 25,000 feet below the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico…

    What are “geologic shallow lakes”? In 30+ years as an exploration geophysicist/geologist, I’ve never heard that phrase before.

    The primary source rocks for offshore Brazil are Cretaceous-aged lacustrine shales that were deposited in rift-formed basins as the South Atlantic Ocean began to open the Late-Jurassic to Cretaceous time.

    The primary source rocks in the Gulf of Mexico are Jurassic to Tertiary aged marine shales that are buried thousands of feet below the oil and gas accumulations.

    If you look at the Mesozoic paleogeography of the Atlantic basin, it’s fairly easy to see why Jurassic and Cretaceous aged formations are among the most prolific sources for hydrocarbons and also provide ample stratigraphic and structural mechanisms for hydrocarbon migration and trapping. It’s also one of the reasons why the US Atlantic Margin and the Arctic are thought to have huge potential.

    But, even if it turned out that abiogenic oil was common, it really wouldn’t change anything. Oil and gas have to migrate through and be trapped in formations from which they can be produced. Most igneous and metamorphic rocks are unsuitable avenues for migration because they lack porosity and permeability. Sedimentary basins, on the other hand, have rock types that are suitable for sourcing, migration and trapping. Sandstones and certain types of carbonates and shales are also suitable reservoirs because they have ample porosity and sufficient permeability.

    There are plenty of examples of oil and gas being trapped in igneous and metamorphic rock formations. Fractured granite in Southeast Asia is one of the few examples. There are also some examples of fractured basement reservoirs elsewhere in Asia and even a few examples in California. The Russians and some Scandinavian countries have tried drilling for gas in granite, with no real success. The oil that has been produced from fractured basement reservoirs has been geochemically tied to conventional sources.

    Now… I’m not saying that abiogenic oil is impossible. I’m just telling you that there is no evidence that it exists in anything more than trace quantities. An “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”… But it is a lack of evidence.

  48. James F. Evans (12:42:05) :

    David Middleton (08:50:48) :

    The best currently available science is overwhelming that complex hydrocarbons (oil) and most natural gas is abiotic.

    There is little scientific evidence and no constrained chemical reaction process that explaines the so-called “fossil” theory that organic detritus becomes complex, high chemical potential energy, hydrocarbons.

    All the “fossil” theory proponents have for their hypothesis is a vague assumption that oil is formed in a two-step process, diagenesis and catagenesis, where somehow, yes, somehow, low chemical potential energy organic detritus via diagenesis turns into heavy hydrocarbons (C215H330), and then is broken down via catagenesis into lighter hydrocarbons (oil & gas).

    But that descriptive is never constrained and is specific as it gets.

    No specific chemical reaction pathway has EVER been identified.

    “I have gone to the best geologists and the best petroleum researchers, and I can give you the authoritative answer: No one knows.” — Edward Teller on how living matter is converted into petroleum (Teller,1979)

    Of course, Edward Teller is more famously known as a physicist and “father of the hydrogen bomb.” Nothing has changed since Teller made his statement.

    […]

    To reaffirm: Abiotic Oil is a physical reality. The overwhelming body of scientific evidence supports that conclusion.

    When the general public is informed of the full body of scientific evidence supporting Abiotic Oil, they will understand that oil is a mineral derived from precursor minerals in an ongoing chemical reaction process deep in the bowels of the Earth.

    And, most important, the surface has hardly been scratched in exploring offshore territory for ultra-deep drilling, ultra-deep water Abiotic Oil.

    Edward Teller was correct…

    “I have gone to the best geologists and the best petroleum researchers, and I can give you the authoritative answer: No one knows.”

    Every geologist is taught that no one really knows exactly how oil is formed. However, the vast preponderance of the data and the best working hypothesis indicate that it is sourced from organic matter.

    The ultradeep exploration in the Gulf of Mexico (what I do for a living) hasn’t falsified anything. All of the oil found in the Gulf of Mexico is sourced from Tertiary and Jurassic rocks buried deep below the Plio-Pleistocene and Miocene sediments above it. It’s regular old oil. The geochemical signatures are unmistakable. Natural gas has a wider range of genesis in the Gulf. Some is a byproduct of oil formation, some is due to the thermal breakdown of oil and some is sourced in situ. Oil can be found at depths in the Gulf of Mexico at depths previously thought impossible, because there is a very low geothermal gradient and the pressures are a lot less than one would expect.

    On the Deep Tertiary in the Gulf… The reason that most of us didn’t think there was any Tertiary potential beyond the continental shelf had nothing to do with depth, heat or pressure. It was due to the fact that all of the wells drilled basinward of established Lower Tertiary production just offshore of Galveston, deep enough to test pre-Miocene objectives found no reservoir quality sands. We had no model to get pre-Miocene aged sands out there. Before Shell discovered Miocene-aged pay in the deepwater in Mississippi Canyon, the consensus was that pre-Pliocene aged reservoirs did not exist that far offshore.

    The problem wasn’t not having a conventional model for hydrocarbon formation, maturation and accumulation. The problem was in not having a sufficiently good imagination to put reservoir rocks out there. When the Deep Tertiary play was discovered, they weren’t looking for it. The first exploratory well was designed to test what was thought to be a mid-Cretaceous objective.

    McMoRan’s Davey Jones well might be a natural gas discovery. It did not find oil and there’s no evidence that the gas is abiogenic. The pay sands are Paleocene- to Eocene-aged. There’s nothing unusual about finding hydrocarbons in reservoirs of that age in that area. The unusual thing is the depth, pressure and temperatures. The hurdle at Davey Jones will be economically completing a gas well with such high reservoir temperatures and pressures… If the well is ever completed. McMoRan has been pursuing ultra-deep objectives in that area for quite a long time… Every quarter, they issue press releases about their ultra-deep program… But they haven’t exactly established much production in those areas.

    James F. Evans (20:59:10) :

    […]

    Oh, by the way, no geologic shallow lakes were ever present 230 miles off the coast of Brazil, or over 25,000 feet below the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico…

    What are “geologic shallow lakes”? In 30+ years as an exploration geophysicist/geologist, I’ve never heard that phrase before.

    The primary source rocks for offshore Brazil are Cretaceous-aged lacustrine shales that were deposited in rift-formed basins as the South Atlantic Ocean began to open the Late-Jurassic to Cretaceous time.

    If you look at the Mesozoic paleogeography of the Atlantic basin, it’s fairly easy to see why Jurassic and Cretaceous aged formations are among the most prolific sources for hydrocarbons and also provide ample stratigraphic and structural mechanisms for hydrocarbon migration and trapping. It’s also one of the reasons why the US Atlantic Margin and the Arctic are thought to have huge potential.

    But, even if it turned out that abiogenic oil was common, it really wouldn’t change anything. Oil and gas have to migrate through and be trapped in formations from which they can be produced. Most igneous and metamorphic rocks are unsuitable avenues for migration because they lack porosity and permeability. Sedimentary basins, on the other hand, have rock types that are suitable for sourcing, migration and trapping. Sandstones and certain types of carbonates and shales are also suitable reservoirs because they have ample porosity and sufficient permeability.

    There are plenty of examples of oil and gas being trapped in igneous and metamorphic rock formations. Fractured granite in Southeast Asia is one of the few examples. There are also some examples of fractured basement reservoirs elsewhere in Asia and even a few examples in California. The Russians and some Scandinavian countries have tried drilling for gas in granite, with no real success. The oil that has been produced from fractured basement reservoirs has been geochemically tied to conventional sources.

    Now… I’m not saying that abiogenic oil is impossible. I’m just telling you that there is no evidence that it exists in anything more than trace quantities. An “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”… But it is a lack of evidence.

  49. James F. Evans (12:42:05) :

    “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.”

    Say what?? Isn’t there supposed to be millions of degrees down there? Some big shot enviro guru told me so on the telly, and I believed him. El Gore, I think they called him.

  50. David Middleton (06:43:09) :

    Thank you for responding.

    The response was thoughtful and I appreciate the time and effort you put into it.

    There are a number of points raised which need to be addressed:

    First, I appreciate your putting Edward Teller’s statement front and center: “I have gone to the best geologists and the best petroleum researchers, and I can give you the authoritative answer: No one knows.”

    But you left out the most important part of the statement:

    “— Edward Teller on how living matter is converted into petroleum.”

    If Edward Teller is correct, as you acknowledge he is, then that is because there is no compelling scientific evidence that oil is the result of organic detritus.

    David Middleton wrote: “Every geologist is taught that no one really knows exactly how oil is formed.”

    Yes, I have no doubt and that is because as I stated above, there never has been a specific, constrained chemical reaction process identified beyond the vague two-step “diagenesis and catagenesis” ouline that supposedly happens over millions of years.

    But what is taught to every geologist is that oil is the result of this vague process that turns organic detritus into oil — somehow.

    I also have no doubt that Abiotic Oil Theory is not taught in detail (sure, it is covered in passing and quickly dismissed by many if not most teachers) and the scientific evidence for Abiotic Oil is not presented in its full detail or expanse.

    So, most geologists are relatively unware of the evidence’s scope and specificity, including specific, constrained, chemical reaction pathways that have been identified, even in the laboratory, and the geolologic evidence that goes along with the chemical, molecular, scientific evidence.

    David, you never responded to the Keith & Swanson abstracts that lay out a specific chemical reaction pathway, identifying precursor minerals, catalysts, and by-products from the Hydrocarbon formation process.

    (That’s reporting of scientific evidence for Abiotic Oil, by the way. So, please don’t claim there isn’t scientific evidence for Abiotic Oil, when, in fact, you have chosen to ignore the evidence and then turn around and wrongly claim evidence doesn’t exist — that’s not acceptable in scientific discourse.)

    Many times, it’s the assertions that aren’t responded to which are more telling than what is actually answered — the assertions being ‘unaswerable’ given the scientific evidence at hand.

    The so-called “fossil” theory is an assumption, not supported by the scientific evidence. The belief is carried on by the intellectual inertia in the profession.

    David Middleton wrote: “However, the vast preponderance of the data and the best working hypothesis indicate that it is sourced from organic matter.”

    What scientific evidence?

    In your long, thoughtful response, you didn’t offer one piece of scientific evidence, either at the molecular, chemical level or at the geologic level.

    So, specifically, at the molecular, chemical level what is the scientific evidence which constitutes a “vast preponderance of the data and the best working hypothesis”.

    Or at the gelogic level?

    I ask since you didn’t provide one iota of evidence for such a sweeping assertion.

    David, you made a unsupported fiat statement — that doesn’t carry weight like it does in the classroom. Neither did you respond to the vast majority of the evidence I presented. While I appreciate your working in the field — that alone, in itself, is not scientific evidence.

    David Middleton wrote: “The ultradeep exploration in the Gulf of Mexico (what I do for a living) hasn’t falsified anything.”

    First, do you acknowledge the “oil window” corollary is a working hypothesis in oil geology, and did I provide an accurate summary of the “oil window” corollary? Second, please respond to this specific falsification: Namely, the temperatures of the oil, upwards of 500° F off the coast of Brazil and over 400° F in the Gulf of Mexico are much higher than what the “oil window” corollary predicts for the formation of oil via catagenesis.

    And what do you make of the oil industries’ development of advanced technology? “The CTI is capable of testing full-size prototypes of the next generation of completion and production equipment in a test environment with gas pressure up to 40,000 psi and temperature up to 700° F (371° C),” says Rustom Mody, Baker Hughes vice president of Technology.”

    And how do you reconcile the above technolgy requirements and the concomitant physical conditions with your statement, “Oil can be found at depths in the Gulf of Mexico at depths previously thought impossible, because there is a very low geothermal gradient and the pressures are a lot less than one would expect.”?

    The pressure specification, 40,000 psi, is twice what is now generally encountered in the Wilcox Lower Tertiary wells and the temperature, 700° F, is also substantially higher than presently encountered. What relationship do these specifications if met and encountered in the well say about the physical reality and validity of the “oil window” corollary?

    Or your representations of the geologic environment in the Gulf of Mexico.

    David Middleton wrote: “All of the oil found in the Gulf of Mexico is sourced from Tertiary and Jurassic rocks buried deep below the Plio-Pleistocene and Miocene sediments above it. It’s regular old oil.”

    Of course, “regular old oil” is a conclusionary, throw-away line that plays on people’s established perceptions. It offers no evidence in itself, it depends on prior inculcation of ideas that have been indoctrinated in the general public from earliest childhood (cartoons of dinosaurs), in school, and in popular culture and the media, not to mention the oil industry. Scientific evidence, observations & measurements, is the salient issue — not what people have always been led to believe (yes, I, too, also firmly believed oil was a “fossil” fuel until I aquainted myself with the scientific evidence).

    David Middleton wrote: “All of the oil found in the Gulf of Mexico is sourced from Tertiary and Jurassic rocks buried deep below the Plio-Pleistocene and Miocene sediments above it.”

    That is an unwarranted assumption.

    The best scientific evidence currently available places the oil emanating from the fractures, cracks, fissures, and rifts in the crustal basement (bedrock), that is why Offshore magazine had an article which I linked that speaks to the mapping of the basement’s (bedrock) fracture pattern and not any so-called “source rock”.

    Oil rises up from these ‘cracks’ and certainly passes through Tertiary and Jurassic rocks which act as conduits for the oil while the Plio-Pleistocene and Miocene sediments act as reservoir structures where the oil ‘pools’ with capping rock layers above which keeps the oil from further rising, although, the capping structures in the Gulf of Mexico are leaky as evidenced by the many natural oil seeps (sometimes, prospective oil reservoirs are even partially located based on the location of oil slicks on the sea surface).

    The “source rock” assumption has little supporting scientific evidence to its credit, while the fracture source theory has substantial scientific evidence to back it.

    Let me anticipate an argument: Oil is claimed to emanate from “source rocks” based on biological markers in the oil which are consistent with biological markers in the “source rocks”, but oil is an excellent solvent of carbon based detritus, it is no surprise and offers little conclusive evidence, that oil would have “biological” markers from passing through conduit “source rock” as it rises upward from the basement fracture pattern. Indeed, it would be remarkable if the oil didn’t have biolgical detritus in it considering the heat and pressure the oil is under as it rises into sedimentary reservoir rock and trapped by impermeable capping rock structures (this process is analogous to near-boiling water being pressurized through the ground coffee in an espresso machine).

    So, the “source rock” hypothesis is like many petroleum geology assertions: It doesn’t hold-up to to close scrutiny by those applying reasonable skepticism and an open-mind to the evidence.

    David Middleton wrote: “The geochemical signatures are unmistakable.”

    Again, this is an unsupported fiat assertion.

    What specific geochemical sigatures are unmistakable?

    I’ve refuted the “source rock” biological marker evidence. Perhaps, there are other alleged pieces of evidence to put forward and consider, but assumptions and unsupported assertions don’t carry scientific weight.

    Actually, the scientific evidence for abiotic markers in oil is stronger than biogenic makers in oil:

    Rare-earth metals like vanadium are found in oil at concentrations much higher than found in the surrounding sedimentary reservoir rocks or in the so-called “source rocks” oil supposedly emanates from. The concentrations of rare-earth metals in the oil are consistent with concentrations found in the deep-crust and shallow mantle.

    Abstract: Inorganic Geochemistry of Oil: First Results of the Study Using the ICP-MS Method of the East-European and West-Siberian Oil Deposits, authored by Kirill S. Ivanov, et al.

    http://www.searchanddiscovery.net/abstracts/html/2007/athens_conf/abstracts/ivanov.htm

    “The elemental distribution in the crude oil from all studied deposits does not match such of any known crustal rock. The experimental data presented should be taken into consideration during origin of oils is being discussed. The ICP-MS method begin a new stage in oil inorganic geochemistry study.”

    “The principle geochemical anomalies in these samples include limitedly low content of most elements, except for the elements V, Ni, Cr, Ca, Sr, Na, Rb, Cs.”

    Diamondoids are also found in higher abundance and larger size and complex structure the deeper the oil is located in the stratigraphical profile. This strongly suggests that the oil is formed in very high pressure and temperature physical environment, consistent with very deep formation location and then as it rises from the basement (bedrock) ‘cracks’, the daimondoids are strained out of the oil the more conduit rock the oil is forced to rise through. Of course, diamondoids are “little brothers” to diamonds and we know diamond formation takes very high temperature and pressure to accomplish. This is another abiotic marker for oil and is mentioned in the Keith & Swan abstract, Hydrothermal Hydrocarbons:

    http://www.searchanddiscovery.com/documents/abstracts/2005research_calgary/abstracts/extended/keith/keith.htm

    “Virtually all oil is now known to contain nanodiamond particles and their diamondoid overgrowths. Nanodiamond presence strongly suggests a high-pressure, high-temperature origin at some point in the generation, migration, and deposition of the hydrocarbon (Dahl and others, 2003 a and b).”

    David Middleton wrote: “On the Deep Tertiary in the Gulf… The reason that most of us didn’t think there was any Tertiary potential beyond the continental shelf had nothing to do with depth, heat or pressure. It was due to the fact that all of the wells drilled basinward of established Lower Tertiary production just offshore of Galveston, deep enough to test pre-Miocene objectives found no reservoir quality sands.”

    Generally, as I understand it, these reservoir sands in the Wilcox Lower Tertiary are turbidites. And, it has been known that the continental margin in the Gulf of Mexico and its slope are largely made-up of turbidites.

    Surely, it wasn’t a lack of imagination that prevented oil geologists to consider turbidite sands of the Wilcox Lower Tertiary as permeable sands that could act as reservoirs for oil. It could be possible that there weren’t candidate “source rocks” identified or something else was at play…like the imaginary constraints of the “oil window”. But a lack of permeable sands — that’s not likely. Also, it seems these oil reservoirs are “pinned” down right over the fractures in the basment, again, this would be consistent with Abiotic Oil Theory and why the oil companies are busy spending millions of dollars mapping the basement tectonic fracture pattern as seen from the Offshore magazine article linked to previously.

    Why?

    Because the oil gets trapped in the reservoir permeable sands within close proximinty above the fractures, cracks, fissures, and rifts in the tectonic basement.

    David, regarding McMoRan’s Davey Jones, I’ll stand aside, as certainly puffery is not unknown in the oil business — it’s as old as, “I got a prospective oil well I want you to invest in…”

    Although, “Davey Jones well might be a natural gas discovery.”, because, “depth, pressure and temperatures”, does sound vaguely like a falling back on the “oil window” rational, too deep to find oil arguments, that have been repeatedly falsified both in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Brazil, with all due respect.

    But there are many examples of oil reservoirs having been discovered beyond 25,000 feet below the sea bottom in the Gulf of Mexico that are already producing oil.

    And Shell’s Perdido oil fields were just announced as producing oil in over 8,000 feet of water, although from oil reservoirs not too deep below the sea bottom, slightly over 8,000 feet:

    March 31, 2010 (Houston Chronicle) — Oil flows from huge hub amid new offshore push — “Perdido, which floats in nearly 8,000 feet of water about 200 miles south of Freeport, is designed to churn out more than 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day — enough to fuel 500 cars for 15 years.”

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/business/energy/6938889.html

    David Middleton presents Evans (14:12:37) statement: “Oh, by the way, no geologic shallow lakes were ever present 230 miles off the coast of Brazil, or over 25,000 feet below the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico…”

    And Middleton (06:43:09) responds: “What are “geologic shallow lakes”? In 30+ years as an exploration geophysicist/geologist, I’ve never heard that phrase before.”

    Perhaps, I was inartful. But if so, I was only echoing Guilherme Estrella, Petrobras E&P director speaking of the offshore Brazil oil:

    “According to Guilherme Estrella, Petrobras E&P director, the lake that formed during the beginning of the separation of the continents some 120 million years ago allowed the deposition of source rocks (Lagoa Feia formation) that originated the reserves now starting to be produced in the southern Atlantic Ocean.” — Offshore magazine, December 2008

    So, there are oil wells producing oil 230 miles off the coast of Brazil and oil reservoirs that possibly stretch across the entire Atlantic Ocean between Brazil and Africa: “Beyond the Gulf of Mexico, companies have announced big finds off the coasts of Brazil and Ghana, leading some experts to suggest the existence of a massive oil reservoir stretching across the Atlantic from Africa to South America.”

    And, we are supposed to think all this oil comes from a string of warm, shallow stagnant lakes?

    I’m sorry, its ludicrous.

    Or in Middleton’s words, “The primary source rocks for offshore Brazil are Cretaceous-aged lacustrine shales that were deposited in rift-formed basins as the South Atlantic Ocean began to open the Late-Jurassic to Cretaceous time.”

    No, it doesn’t wash.

    Keith’s Houston Geological Society (an oil & gas focussed org.) presentation, Cracks of the World: Global Strike-Slip Fault Systems and Giant Resource Accumulations, makes a far better case. Keith’s analysis & interpretation of the “cracks of the world” gives a much better explanation for why and how giant petroleum reservoirs are found far out from the coast of Brazil and West Africa, and, indeed, out in the Gulf of Mexico.

    (Might I remind readers and Mr. Middleton that Stanley B. Keith also has over 30 years experience as a geologist and presently heads an oil industry-supported petroleum research consortium.)

    “Evidence is mounting that the Earth is encircled by subtle necklaces of interconnecting, generally latitude-parallel faults. Many major mineral and energy resource accumulations are located within or near the deeply penetrating fractures of these “cracks of the world.” Future exploration for large petroleum occurrences should emphasize the definition, regional distribution, and specific characteristics of the global crack system. Specific drill targets can be predicted by understanding the local structural setting and fluid flow pathways in lateral, as well as vertical conduits, detectable through patterns in the local geochemistry and geophysics.”

    http://www.hgs.org/en/art/?34

    David Middleton wrote: “If you look at the Mesozoic paleogeography of the Atlantic basin, it’s fairly easy to see why Jurassic and Cretaceous aged formations are among the most prolific sources for hydrocarbons and also provide ample stratigraphic and structural mechanisms for hydrocarbon migration and trapping.”

    Again, this is just an unsupported conclusionary statement with no evidence or rational.

    No, it is not “easy to see” how organic detritus got under a mile of salt that sits under another couple of miles of rock.

    David Middleton wrote: “Sedimentary basins, on the other hand, have rock types that are suitable for sourcing, migration and trapping. Sandstones and certain types of carbonates and shales are also suitable reservoirs because they have ample porosity and sufficient permeability.”

    Agreed.

    Sedimentary basins which sit atop fracture zones in the Earth’s crust catch the oil as it rises from those fracture zones. And this is reflected in where the majority of the world’s giant and super-giant oil wells are located.

    David Middleton wrote: “Now… I’m not saying that abiogenic oil is impossible. I’m just telling you that there is no evidence that it exists in anything more than trace quantities.”

    False.

    I’ve presented scientific evidence in this comment thread for Abiotic Oil and for the most part you have ignored it and haven’t addressed the evidence provided, let alone successfully refuted it.

    You are patting yourself on the back without justification.

    Frankly, you haven’t presented much of anything in the way of scientific evidence except conclusionary statements, resting on your presumed authority — that doesn’t cut it in scientific debate.

    Straight-up, David, you haven’t presented much evidence for your “fossil” hypothesis and you haven’t refuted the evidence I have presented.

    But let me produce another piece of scientific evidence:

    “Andesitic pillow lavas containing biogenic, solid bitumen (SB) are a constituent of a Neoproterozoic volcanosedimentary sequence (Teplá-Barrandian unit, Bohemian Massif) in the Mítov area of the Czech Republic. A black shale formation that is crosscut by these andesitic basalts is 565 Ma old. Carbon disulfide extracts of two powdered samples of SB contain 0.2 and 0.3 ppm of C60 [a type of “buckyballs”], respectively, as determined by high-pressure liquid chromatography.”

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V66-488V8C3-6&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=4bf5aa84cbae2a392d853b70629680d6

    Calling it “biogenic” is an artifact from the then prevailing paradigm which couldn’t conceive of Abiotic Oil.

    The relevant issue for this discussion is that Andesitic pillow lavas typically are molten at around 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, yet when the lava cooled into these round shapes it retained “solid bitumen”, a solid, heavy hydrocarbon, within the lava.

    Most definitely not a process associated with shallow ancient lake beds. It’s a vocanic process that resulted in solid bitumen, a heavy hydrocarbon, being embedded in the lava.

    That sure seems like an abiotic process to me.

    David, you may not even be aware of how many assumptions you make which then are never demonstrated or backed up with physical evidence.

  51. @James F. Evans (15:04:19) :

    As I said earlier, no one knows exactly how oil forms. I’m not disputing the possibility of abiogenic origin. It is a working hypothesis. a small minority of geoscientists think it is the best working hypothesis.

    Biogenic origin is the most widely accepted working hypothesis. There are many lines of evidence that support biogenic origin. Probably the single most compelling bit of evidence is the presence of sedimentary porphyrins (Callot et al., 1990) and the fact that they can be correlated to biological preucrsors (algae & photosynthetic bacteria).

    Personally, I have no idea which hypothesis is correct… Or if both are correct to some degree. Just like I can’t know for certain if all granites are igneous intrusives or formed by low grade metamorphism of sandstones (granitization).

    So, for the sake of argument… What happens if I stipulate that 60% of the oil that has been produced to date is of abiogenic origin? How would that change the way I go about looking for oil?

    Proponents of the abiogenic hypothesis often cite basement reservoirs as evidence to support abiogenic origin. Here’s a schematic cross section of Vietnam’s Cuu Long basin…

    Cuu Long Basin

    Oil is produced from Oligocene granite wash (yellow/green) on the flanks and top of a granitic diapir (pink) and from Miocene-Oligocene sandstones above the diapir. Oil is also produced from fractures in the granite (black/dark gray). The Oligocene shale (lighter gray with dashes) between the granite and the Miocene-Oligocene sandstones is loaded with organic matter. The oil that is produced from the granite wash, granite fractures and the shallower sandstones is geochemically indistinguishable and can be matched to the organic rich shale source rock.

    The biogenic hypothesis says that the oil formed in the shale and then migrated into the granite wash, granite fractures and overlying sandstone. The abiogenic hypothesis says that the oil formed in the mantle and migrated up through the granite and then into the sedimentary rocks above and around the diapir.

    What difference does it make to the explorationist how the oil got there? The methods for looking for the oil aren’t affected.

    Here’s another example…

    In the deepwater of the Gulf of Mexico there are numerous “mini-basins” that are basically surrounded by walls of mobile salt. One of the things we look for to determine if a particular mini-basin is prospective is a “salt floor”. If a mini-basin has a salt floor, the likelihood of finding high quality oil pay in it is very low. You may very well find natural gas in such settings; but generally don’t find much oil. We look for “bottomless” mini-basins. Salt floors tend to block migration pathways. What difference does it make whether or not the oil is migrating from deeper Jurassic marine shales or if it’s migrating from the mantle, through the Jurassic marine shales and then on up into the Cenozoic clastics above?

  52. David Middleton (04:41:32):

    Thank you, again, for responding. I appreciate your time and patience.

    In your (04:41:32) response immediately above, you present an additional “biomarker” line of evidence for support of the “fossil”, organic detritus, hypothesis of oil formation:

    David Middleton wrote: “Probably the single most compelling bit of evidence is the presence of sedimentary porphyrins (Callot et al., 1990) and the fact that they can be correlated to biological preucrsors (algae & photosynthetic bacteria).”

    These porphyrins are supposedly molecular structural evidence that oil is a remnant of biological precursors such as algae and photosynthetic bacteria. The geometrical, molecular structure of porphyrins that have been found in oil are similar to certain known biological, geometrical, molecular structures found in algae and photosynthetic bacteria.

    This is basically a “looks like” then must “come from” argument.

    But upon close scrutiny this argument is readily dismissed.

    Porphyrins have been found in the hydrocarbons that have been identified in meteorites, yes, that’s right, numerous meteorites, called carbonaceous chondrites have been found to contain higher order hydrocarbons. But more important to the “porphyrins” argument is that porphyrins have been found to be a constituent part of hydrocarbons contained in the meteorites.

    “The types of porphyrins, isoprenoids, terpines, and clorins found in natural petroleum have been observed in material extracted from the interiors of no fewer than fifty-four meteorites, including amphoteric meteorites…” — J. F. Kenney, et al. (2001), geologist quoted from a peer-reviewed scientific paper published in the journal, Energia.

    http://www.gasresources.net/DisposalBioClaims.htm

    Clearly, if porphyrins are found in meteorites (unless one claims organic detritus got into meteorities) then porphyrins are found in abiotic hydrocarbons.

    “The observations of such molecules [porphyrins] in meteorites thoroughly discredited the claims that their presence in natural petroleum might somehow constitute evidence of a biological connection. Because especially strenuous (and especially erroneous) claims are often made particularly about the porphyrins observed in natural petroleum, those molecules will be discussed in modest detail.” (Please refer to the linked paper for the detailed discussion of the fallacy of porphryins being a “biological” marker in oil.)

    “Additionally, after the observations of porphyrins in carbonaceous meteorites, those petroleum-type porphyrins were synthesized abiologically in the laboratory under chemical and thermodynamic conditions specially set to mimic the abiotic conditions in meteorites.”

    To highlight: “porphyrins were synthesized abiologically in the laboratory”

    And more intellectually disturbing, this scientific evidence has been known for 30 years, yet the “porphyrins” argument is repeatedly trotted out as the strongest scientific evidence for oil’s origin from biological detritus.

    Kenney goes on:

    “The ‘porphyrin evidence’ claims were destroyed by the investigations of carbonaceous meteorites approximately thirty years ago, and are well known throughout the community of scientists working in the field of petroleum. Every compound designated as a ‘biomarker,’ and not otherwise identified as a contaminant, has been either observed in the fluids extracted from the interiors of meteorites, or synthesized in laboratories under conditions comparable to the crust of the Earth, – or both.”

    “Such scientific facts, and the general knowledge of same, not withstanding, every textbook published in the English language purportedly dealing with the subject of petroleum geology, including the ones cited above, continues to repeat the old discredited claims that the presence of (abiotic) porphyrins in natural petroleum provide evidence for its origin from biological matter. Such assertions, thirty years after having been demonstrated scientifically insupportable, must be acknowledged to be intellectual fraud, pure and simple.”

    Direct evidence of the ‘crisis’ in petroleum geology.

    So all claims of “biological” markers in petroleum are spurious and according to Kenney and objective observers — fraudulent.

    David Middleton wrote: “So, for the sake of argument… What happens if I stipulate that 60% of the oil that has been produced to date is of abiogenic origin? How would that change the way I go about looking for oil?”

    All oil is abiotic.

    Of course, in Science “truth for its own sake” is the highest aspiration, correct understanding of physical relationships is the goal.

    Stanley B. Keith has identified why correct understanding of the physical relationships of petroleum geology will help the pursuit of “looking for oil”:

    “If the hydrothermal hydrocarbon model is viable, it will engender new exploration strategies, with applications from regional to reservoir scale. Petroleum systems will have to be viewed as crustal-scale features with a geology extending from the serpentinized peridotitic source to the seepage sites at the top of the crust. Petroleum geology is much larger than the basins within which petroleum has been traditionally found. The petroleum geologist of the future will need to acquire new skill sets derived from igneous and metamorphic petrology as-well-as economic geology of metal deposits. Hard rock geology and soft rock geology will no longer exist as separate disciplines as geologists view basins from the basement up.” (Keith & Swan go on to cite specific examples of how this would help “looking for oil”.)

    http://www.searchanddiscovery.com/documents/abstracts/2005research_calgary/abstracts/extended/keith/keith.htm

    Again, as the January 2010 Offshore magazine demonstares with an article: Imaging challenges in deepwater US/Mexico border zone (mapping the fractures, cracks, fissures, and rifts of the basement [bedrock] tectonic pattern), the oil industry is spending millions of dollars in the pursuit of “looking for oil” just as Stanley B. Keith has advised in accordance with Abiotic Oil principles.

    An 18th century philosopher said, “When I speak I put on a mask. When I act I am forced to take it off.”

    The oil companies have taken off the mask and are acting with their money and technology…and remember that anonymous 20th century philosopher who said, “Follow the money.”

    David Middleton wrote: “The biogenic hypothesis says that the oil formed in the shale…”

    The presence of shales with hydrocarbons embedded with them is also argued a evidence of biological detritus being the origin of oil. But there are ready abiotic physical explanations for shales embedded with hydrocarbons:

    “We suggest a third possibility–the generation of methane and heavier hydrocarbons through reactions that occur during cooling, fractionation, and deposition of dolomitic carbonates, metal-rich black shales, and other minerals from hydrothermal metagenic fluids.” — Keith & Swan, Hydrothermal Hydrocarbons

    Keith & Swanson go on in their Serpentinization, and Hydrocarbons paper:

    “If the brines breech the hydrosphere they may produce “white smokers” (tuffa vent mounds/pinnacle reefs) along faults and enrich shales with exhalative metal and hydrocarbon…Type I kerogen in black shale vents from Mg peridotite-sourced brines whereas Type II kerogen in black shale vents from quartz alkalic peridotite-sourced brines.”

    http://www.searchanddiscovery.com/documents/2006/06088houston_abs/abstracts/keith.htm

    So, hydrocarbons embedded shales are not the cause of petroleum formation, but, rather, the result of abiotic hydrocarbon formation. Which exposes the fallacy of the whole “shale as source” assertion: The volume of shales in a given petroleum basin never accounted for the volume of oil in the basin, as the volume of oil in any given basin dwarfed the volume of shale in that basin.

    Some loose ends that need to be tied-up:

    David Middleton (06:43:09) wrote: “Now… I’m not saying that abiogenic oil is impossible. I’m just telling you that there is no evidence that it exists in anything more than trace quantities.”

    This is the “yes, but” argument. “Yes, there are abiotic hydrocarbons, but they don’t exist in commercial quantities.”

    “No one doubts that inorganic hydrocarbons may occur in association with hydrothermal systems.” — Michael D. Lewan, petroleum geologist, United States Geological Survey, 2005

    “I don’t think anybody has ever doubted that there is an inorganic source of hydrocarbons.” — Michael D. Lewan, geologist, 2002

    “I don’t disagree with the idea [of abiotic gas] ,” Katz said. “I disagree with the idea of commercial quantities. There’s no question that it’s coming out of the system. However, it’s not coming out in commercial quantities.” — Barry Katz, a geochemist at Chevron Corp, 2009

    So, we have public acknowledgement of the physical existence of abiotic oil & gas from leading petroleum geologists. But the fall back argument, of course, is that no commerical quantities exist (really a last ditch argument).

    Which David Middleton faithfully parrots.

    But here’s the problem for these petroleum geologists: If abiotic oil & gas are established facts as they acknowledge and the precursor minerals and catalysts are rich & abundant deep in the Earth as Keith and many others have demomstrated, what are the limiting physical conditions or relationships, factors if you will, that keep Abiotic Hydrocarbon production from being robust & vigorous?

    There must be limiting factors identifed or the reasonable conclusion is that Abiotic Hydrocarbon production will be “incessant” and constitute tremendous volume.

    These “yes, but” petroleum geologists have NEVER identified the limiting factors that prevent robust Abiotic Hydrocarbon production and, in turn, limit it to “trace quantities”.

    This issue was identified as early as the 19th century by the great French chemist, Marcellin Berthelot:

    “One can, then, conceive the production, by purely mineral means, of all natural hydrocarbons. The intervention of heat, of water, and of alkaline metals — lastly, the tendency of hydrocarbons to unite together to form the more condensed material — suffice to account for the formation of these curious compounds. Moreover, this formation will be continuous because the reactions which started it are renewed incessantly.” — Marcellin Berthelot, chemist, 1866

    It doesn’t wash to say, yes, there are Abiotic Hydrocarbon, but it’s produced in miniscule amounts, and then never explain why it would be produced in only miniscule amounts when all logic, physical evidence, and known physical realtionships says it would be produced in volumous amounts.

    David Middleton (06:43:09) wrote: “The primary source rocks for offshore Brazil are Cretaceous-aged lacustrine shales that were deposited in rift-formed basins as the South Atlantic Ocean began to open the Late-Jurassic to Cretaceous time.”

    I’ve discussed the fallacy of “shales” being the “source” of hydrocarbons, above, so won’t do so, again, here, but the other part of the statement must be examined, “…in rift-formed basins as the South Atlantic Ocean…”.

    Rifts are a “pulling apart” process, an opening up of a large “crack” in the Earth’s surface if you will. Rifts are one of the vertical conduits or pathways for Abiotic Oil to rise up from depth into reservoir structures. Most rifts are riddled with smaller fractures, cracks, and fissures that provide a robust vertical conduit network for Abiotic Oil and most rifts are geologically active where contacting bodies of rock are regularly “reactivated” allowing fluid travel between the rocks.

    Stanley B. Keith, a geologist with over 30 years experience and heads a oil industry supported consortium for the study of Abiotic Oil. Monte M. Swan is also a geologist with over 30 years experience. These two experienced geologists presented in their scientific paper, Hydrothermal Hydrocarbons, direct evidence of Abiotic Oil:

    “Direct evidence for hydrothermal hydrocarbons continues to mount. Some of the more relevant observations include:” (And then proceeded to outline seven different evidences of Abiotic Oil.)

    David Middleton had the opportunity to read the paper as it was previously linked in the thread before his comment so readers could inspect & examine the document for themselves to place any quoted passages in the proper context.

    And after David Middleton had an opportunity to inspect the document, he had this to say: “I’m just telling you that there is no evidence that it exists in anything more than trace quantities.”

    While I very much appreciate the time, effort, and patience Mr. Middleton has shown, he still has not directly and squarely addressed the direct evidence of Abiotic Oil presented by Keith & Swan.

    Rather, Mr. Middleton mischaracterized the state of the evidence to support his sweeping assertions meant to be pre-emptive dismissals, in effect, he wanted readers to “move along, nothing to see here.”

    This is an example of the ‘crisis’ in petroleum geology, today.

  53. @James F. Evans (12:09:44) :

    Firstly, I’ve learned more about the possibilities of abiogenic complex hydrocarbon formation from your posts and links than I ever knew before. I can’t tell you that you’ve convinced me that all of the organic geochemistry of oil is coincidental or artefactual remnants of the migration process… But… Once again for the sake of moving the argument along…

    Let’s just say that I accept your premise that 100% of the oil ever discovered on Earth is of abiogenic origin. With that stipulation…

    How would I go about doing my job any differently than I have done it for the last 30 years?

    What advantage would it impart on my employer, if I used this paradigm shift in my efforts to find oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico?

    And in the spirit of staying on topic… How would could the abiogenic hypothesis be employed in the Arctic? Pres. Obama has recently announced that he wants the MMS to re-open leasing in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas offshore of the North Slope… How would the paradigm shift give someone a leg up on the competition?

    And finally… If you really want to move your preferred hypothesis forward… Find an oil field somewhere in the world, from which a significant volume of oil has been produced which lacked evidence of organic geochemistry. There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of oil fields that have produced from fractured and/or weathered basement reservoirs. Surely there must be at least one such reservoir in the world in which the hydrocarbons migrated solely through and accumulated in crystalline rock. If you can find such an example, you would have a “smoking gun.”

  54. David Middleton:

    Thank you.

    You are very gracious and professional in your comments and I appreciate that.

    It’s okay that you aren’t convinced of Abiotic Oil’s reality. My goal was to bring scientific evidence of Abiotic Oil to the attention of the readers and hopefully encourage the intellectually curious and those with a potential interest to take the time & energy to research the question on their own.

    My purpose was to leave readers with an open-mind towards the possibility of Abiotic Oil, such that they could consider additional scientific evidence in their own time and own ways, in essense, to open the door, so they could consider the full range of scientific evidence supporting Abiotic Oil.

    Questions like Abiotic Oil require individual study and reflection away from debate and contention where each individual can engage in a quest of discovery tailored to their own style of investigation and consideration of the evidence (this is particularly true regarding firmly held ideas) — one piece of evidence or rhetorical flurish will not convince — it’s the totality of the scientific evidence openly considered which has the possibility to convince.

    Mr. Middleton, as you know many people are hyping “peak” oil. Some are even promoting a “doom” mentality. Based on my study, this is totally misplaced and a needless waste of emotional energy, and even potentially damaging to America’s economy.

    David Middleton (13:20:57) wrote: “Let’s just say that I accept your premise that 100% of the oil ever discovered on Earth is of abiogenic origin. With that stipulation…

    How would I go about doing my job any differently than I have done it for the last 30 years?

    What advantage would it impart on my employer, if I used this paradigm shift in my efforts to find oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico?”

    Well, as the January 2010 Offshore magazine article: Imaging challenges in deepwater US/Mexico border zone, reports, the oil industry is mapping the basement’s (bedrock), fractures, cracks, fissures, and rifts, as well as crustal thickness, to better predict and locate oil deposits.

    Or, as Offshore magazine put it: “The integration of multiple data sets enables a more robust subsalt interpretation and provides a new method to predict structural traps that are cored by deep allochthonous salt in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.”

    http://www.offshore-mag.com/index/article-display/0314992580/articles/offshore/volume-70/issue-1/geology-__geophysics/imaging-challenges.html

    Essentially, it boils down to understanding the physical environment as best as technically possible, so physical objects (oil deposits) can be located within that physical environment.

    Obviously, oil companies have much more detailed images of the basement than was presented in the Offshore magazine article as these images & data are closely held, proprietary information.

    So, how would you do your job any differently?

    Analyze & interpret basement features, the “cracks”, to a level of resolution & detail that you would analyze & interpret so-called “source rocks” or the position and shape of the salt features in this basement environment.

    Now that a series of succussful ultra-deep oil wells have been located, do a corollation study to determine if the location of these successful oil wells corollate with a proximity to these fractures, cracks, fissures, and rifts, that have now been mapped to a high resolution — higher resolution three-dimensional images are always imperative.

    Should or if a corollation can be identified, then refine the study to see if a corollation between thinner crustal formations, larger “cracks”, and more “reactivation” of the fractures, and larger oil deposits (bigger oil wells) can be identified.

    If this additional refinement leads to a finding of a positive corollation between larger oil deposits and larger and more active “cracks”. Then I suspect you have something to take to your employer for their consideration.

    Oil companies are always looking to find the largest oil deposit at the least cost.

    So, the advantage to your employer is if you can help them bring to production the biggest oil well at the least cost. The cost of exploration is a major part of the cost of an oil well (and while the success rate for drilling oil wells has gone way up since 3-D and even 4-D (time as a dimension) has been employed, so you can literally “see” the oil in situ, there are still failed drill holes (“dry holes”). Obviously, percentage rate of success is very important and a huge cost factor. Oil companies are highly interested in finding oil EVERYTIME they drill a well, particularly an ultra-deep well which are very expensive to drill (I understand an ultra-deep well can cost $100 million a pop for an exploratory well), so success rate is critical, but so is the size of the oil deposit (yes, oil companies are always looking for the next Spindletop).

    Oil companies bid on lease blocks, or squares of sea-bottom, that they can drill for oil. If oil companies have proprietary information about likely potential for large oil deposits on lease blocks up for bid, then oil companies can bid on the lease blocks that have the most likelyhood for producing the largest oil deposits.

    Understanding the basement (bedrock) fracture pattern (if the above corollations are, indeed, substantiated) will lead to successful bidding for the most productive (largest oil deposits) “blocks”.

    Any oil company would appreciate an employee who could guide them to successfully bidding on the most productive lease blocks (I understand some lease blocks turn out to have nothing but “dry holes”).

    David Middleton asked: “How would [or] could the abiogenic hypothesis be employed in the Arctic? (In the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas offshore of the North Slope) How would the paradigm shift give someone a leg up on the competition?”

    Assuming for the sake of argument that the above corollations had been found in the Gulf of Mexico between the “cracks” and oil deposits AND the thinest crust and largest “cracks” and the largest oil deposits, then it would pay to apply the same strategy in the bidding process for leasing blocks up in the arctic. Define the continental/oceanic boundary (COB), this is the largest “crack” with the biggest tears in it (potential vertical conduits for the Abiotic Oil) and likely the most geologic history of “reactivation” providing space for fluid travel up (analogy, think of a glass of water with ice cubes floating at the top, shake the glass and the ice cubes giggle providing opportunity for water to flow up between the cubes) through vertical conduits.

    My bidding strategy would focuss on blocks that are closest to the COB or major faults leading into or out of the COB and I would look for conjuncting faults where a number of faults, fractures, cracks, what have it, come together in a junction. These are areas with the highest potential for past “reactivization”. That is what you are looking for, fault patterns that display evidence of being active in the past which provides for veritical conduits for fluid to travel upwards through the rocks into reservoir structures.

    ** I should add and a most important add: You are also looking to combine the biggest, most active “cracks” with the largest sedimentary structures above the “cracks”, because the bigger the sedimentary, reservoir structure above the “crack”, the more oil that can be caught from the “cracks”, thus leading to the biggest oil deposits, and thus, the largest profits for the oil company.

    Looking for the “smoking gun”: Here is some additional scientific evidence for consideration:

    In terms of biological contaminants, there is scientific evidence already available:

    From the scientific paper authored by J.F. Kenney, et. al.: Dismissal of the Claims of a Biological Connection for Natural Petroleum, published in the peer-reviewed journal, Energia (2001)

    http://www.gasresources.net/DisposalBioClaims.htm

    “Contrarily, the indisputably biological material, such as spores and pollen, found in petroleum can be considered as “abiomarkers” of petroleum origin. For examples, crude oil found in reservoir rocks of the Permian age always contain not only spores and pollen of the Permian age but also spores and pollen of older ages, such as, for example, the Carboniferous, Devonian and Precambrian in petroleum investigated in Tatarstan, Russia.”

    So, spores and pollen have been found in oil that are from older ages from what the age of the rock structure the oil was found in.

    In terms of oil from crystallin rock:

    The Drilling & Development of the Oil & Gas Fields in the Dnieper-Donetsk Basin, authored by V. A. Krayushkin, T. I. Tchebanenko, V. P. Klochko, Ye. S. Dvoryanin, J. F. Kenney, published in the peer-reviewed journal Energia (2001)

    http://www.gasresources.net/DDBflds2.htm

    “Bacteriological analysis of the oil and the examination for so-called “biological marker” molecules: The oil produced from the reservoirs in the crystalline basement rock of the Dnieper-Donets Basin has been examined particularly closely for the presence of either porphyrin molecules or “biological marker” molecules, the presence of which used to be misconstrued as “evidence” of a supposed biological origin for petroleum. None of the oil contains any such molecules, even at the ppm level.”

    There’s your “smoking gun”.

    Also, please consider contacting Stanley B. Keith of Sonoita Geoscience Research, an oil industry supported research consortium. Mr. Keith has over 30 years experience as a geologist, perhaps direct communication with a fellow geologist who heads a research organization supported by the oil industry would add additional ideas that would help your exploration efforts.

    Again, thank you for your gracious response.

  55. Thank you as well, Mr. Evans. Very interesting.

    Irrespective, of whether or not oil is biogenic or abiogenic, I do agree with you that the “Peak Oil” hype is nonsense.

  56. tty- thanks I got father and son mixed up in my memory- it is nearly 30 years since I read an English version of the original Viking saga. An Icelandic friend once told me that in Iceland Eric and Leif have the reputation of con men – not because anyone doubted their discoveries, but because of the way that they sold up Greenland as a wonderful place to settle, whilst the truth was that it was marginal even in the MWP.

    Alexander (02:57:24) : – That is absolutely true about Canute. He seems to have been a very wise man and a genuinely good king. He was not actually trying to hold back the tide, but was demonstrating that no man had the power to do that.

    However, that is not the point I was trying to make. The point was about the choice of test.

    The legend says that Canute’s courtiers boasted that he was powerful enough to hold back the tide.

    Other cultures have had other powers attributed to leaders- those suffering drought have placed importance on being able to call down rain. There are many examples that could be used- controlling volcanos, bird and animal migrations, seasons etc.

    Each one of these tests is associated with what the culture saw as a threat or of vital importance.

    Canute’s subjects do not seem to have been struggling for food, or with the weather (unusual for Britain though that may seem :) ) what was on their minds was the sea, and to be specific, the tide coming in.

    I am suggesting that there is another side to the story, one of a country troubled by sea level rise (caused by the MWP).

    It is something that reinforces the importance of the MWP, because a localized minor event such as Mann argues for, could not possibly have caused sea level fluctuations large enough to be detected without the sophisticated equipment we have now.

  57. Post Script:

    Reference for the January 2010 Offshore magazine article: Imaging challenges in deepwater US/Mexico border zone:

    Search and Discovery Article (2005):

    Emergence of the Lower Tertiary Wilcox Trend in the Deepwater Gulf of Mexico* authored by Dave Meyer, et. al.

    http://www.searchanddiscovery.com/documents/2005/meyer/index.htm

    Discussion of individual oil fields in the Lower Teriary Wilcox Trend with images for each of the oil fields discussed.

    And, for interested readers, a link to additional scientific papers, trade publication articles, news reports, and wide-open discussion of Abiotic Oil:

    http://www.thunderbolts.info/forum/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2150&start=0

    Cheers

Comments are closed.