Shale gas boom on

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IEA: Natural Gas Can Supply World For 250 Years

Thursday, 20 January 2011 09:51 United Press International

Supplies of natural gas could last more than 250 years if Asian and European economies follow the U.S. unconventional reserves, the IEA said.

The abundance of shale gas and other forms of so-called unconventional gas discovered in the United States prompted a global rush to explore for the new resource.

The International Energy Agency said Australia is taking the lead in the push toward unconventional gas, though China, India and Indonesia are close behind. European companies are taking preliminary steps to unlock unconventional gas as are other regions.

“Production of ‘unconventional’ gas in the U.S. has rocketed in the past few years, going beyond even the most optimistic forecasts,” said Anne-Sophie Corbeau, a gas analyst at the IEA. “It is no wonder that its success has sparked such international interest.”

Shale gas production in the United States is booming and the IEA estimates that unconventional gas makes up around 12 percent of the global supply.

Global supplies of natural gas could last for another 130 years at current consumption rates. That time frame could double with unconventional gas, the IEA said.

“Despite the many uncertainties associated with production, countries are still prepared to take risks and invest time and money in exploration and production, because of the potential long-term benefits,” Corbeau said.

from the GWPF

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127 thoughts on “Shale gas boom on

  1. Plenty out there. Methane digesters produce methane from rubbish which is better than burying it.

  2. The bottom line: The more shale gas available means gas prices will be kept low and there will be less need for coal generation, CCS technology, heavily subsidised renewables or carbon trading markets.

    Shale gas is a game changer.

  3. Well, not to be a old stick-in-the-mud, but I can hear the moaning from the ecoloons already: ” But what will we do 251 years from now? Think of posterity!”

  4. This is talking about gas demand alone, not energy supply including oil? Or are they claiming that the peak-oil event will not be soon unless other factors reduce the demand through normal economic models?

  5. Beware – corporate monopolists (Gazprom) and environmental Malthusians (Tyndall Centre) want to stop this for environmental reasons, although at a first glance the environmental issues look thoroughly manageable, compared with say biofuels. However, we cannot have prosperity and economic and social progress, can we? Fortunately the sensible countries are driving on with this anyway, and others (e.g. UK) will just be left behind.

  6. Hmm, the Economist had a similar argument some months ago, positing that “natural gas is becoming lot more like coal and less like crude” (or something to that effect), in the sense that reserves for NG were lengthening to centuries’ worth (like coal) rather than decades as previously thought (like crude).

    Looks like “peak hydrocarbon” won’t be reached for hundreds of years yet, assuming we can manage the noted production issues…

    Paul

  7. “Peak oil” has become a refuge for CAGW believers still intent upon taxing “carbon” and covering the world with windmills. Good to see yet another hiding place being demolished. Wonder how the Japanese are getting on with exploiting methane clathrates (and the Indians with Thorium reactor research?
    Meantime, we in UK expecting the lights to go out, if Mr Huhne stays in charge of energy policy.

  8. The downside to shale is that high volumes of fluid are needed to create the network of ruptures in the shale that allows the trapped gas to escape.
    Disposing of that fluid is the problem.
    It is laden with biocides to reduce fouling. In addition it picks up other substances, some of which may be very undesirable, while getting squirted into rock under high pressure. Absent very stringent supervision, these fluids will just be dumped at the surface and represent a large new pollution source.

  9. Is this development due to the free market and and private profit-driven technological creativity?

  10. So if the original gas reserves are being referred to as “natural gas”, then why isn’t this new stuff “unnatural gas” ?

  11. Though there are some environmental concerns, primarily risks to groundwater, shale gas could be a world-wide political game-changer. Best of all, it will throw a monkey wrench into the renewable energy industry, being far cheaper, and, for the carbophobists, it produces half the C02 that coal does. It also could be cheaper than nuclear.

  12. I remember reading in Flannery’s Weathermakers, about how gas was going to run out in 40 years or something ridiculous like that. It could be longer but I refuse to punish myself by opening that waste of paper ever again. No matter, another one wrong!!! I recall laughing and thinking to myself, I’ll betcha somebody will figure out where or how to get more.

  13. My thoughts:
    One: Anything being extracted from the ground other than open pit coal and sweet oil is gonna be more expensive, even without environmental controls.

    Two: While the number said to be peak oil is hard to quantify, one thing is a for sure thing, energy extraction of any kind is a self-limiting endeavor.

    Three: However, we harvest crop energy all the time, such as oil, and regrow it every year. We also produce the stuff to put in ethenol, and regrow that every year.

    Four: The fly in that ointment is that if you also want the world to eat less meat, you have to increase vegetarian protein production, which would fight for the same land being used to produce crop energy. You can’t do both for an ever growing population without getting into some heated arguments.

    Five: So, if you want to grow energy, something I think is doable, you have to admit that changing omnivores into herbivores along side increased crop energy production is just fantasy pot-smoking thinking.

  14. Wonderful! (and I’m not trying to be facetious, either). I believe the more CO2 we put into the atmosphere, the better it is for our friends the plants; we are the immediate beneficiaries. Let those who eschew CO2 figure out a way to backtrack on their nay-saying when future trends indicate practically all aspects of a warmer, CO-richer world are positive.

    I’m just wondering how all those recently-installed windmills located just to the southeast of me will fare; will they eventually be abandoned and dismantled as their ROI suddenly has turned negative?

  15. UK government;
    ‘We can’t hear you – la-la-la – we must cover out tiny islands with windmills – la-la-la – we’ve passed a law to reduce our CO2 emissions by 80% – la-la-la – not interested that this figure is impossible – la-la-la – we’re only fifteen years behind with building new nuclear power stations – la-la-la – lots of gas..? Don’t believe it – la-la-la….’

  16. Sean Houlihane says:
    January 21, 2011 at 4:45 am

    This is talking about gas demand alone, not energy supply including oil? Or are they claiming that the peak-oil event will not be soon unless other factors reduce the demand through normal economic models?

    I guess I must have missed the part in the article where they discuss “peak oil” (though I checked several times). Perhaps it’s hiding in the same place as Trenbilge’s “missing heat”?

  17. re: Etudiant

    The industry has been fracking wells for decades. The fluids have not been, are not now, and will not be just dumped at the surface. Take a look, for example, at BLM rules.

    re: pyromancer76

    100%. No tax incentives. No subsidies.

  18. The keys to this historic success have been engineering inventiveness in drilling and completion technologies, together with recognition by geologists of the vast recoverable resources in rocks previously considered to be non-prospective. Those who, like me, have been in the industry for decades are simulataneously astounded and proud as hell.

    This is the latest example of the abject failure of Ehrlich (Population Bomb) and Club of Rome (Limits to Growth), both of which sucked me in when they were published. They simply didn’t understand the nature of resources, and they completely discounted the world’s capacity for invention. Those were world-class misjudgements, and they still don’t get it.

  19. To me ‘natural gas’ in the ground is an oxymoron. From cows and swamps, not at all.
    There has been a lot of suppressing cautions – as noted by etudiant – in Coal Ash and Shale Gas both. Sourcewatch has an article on Coal Ash which is a good overview. Shale Gas is, however, as etudiant says, a notable pollution source.
    We do not need to ‘wait for the future’ for an evaluation.
    I’ve collected water related news both in RSS aggregation, Searchbots and general news for quite a while now. The file is http://opitslinkfest.blogspot.com/2009/07/water-wealth-power.html and the blog is Searchable.
    Of the articles I’ve noted, the clarity of one stands out

    http://www.journeyoftheforsaken.com/fracpage.htm

  20. The UK government’s attitude to energy is alarming – they are embracing windmills ( I smiled when a mental picture emerged of politicians being shredded as I wrote that!) but avoiding a serious examination of Shale Gas. Scotland began to develop an ‘oil’ industry over a century ago, extracting volatiles from shale, but the then-new cheap stuff from the USA closed down the Scottish possibilities. I am sure that the mental logjams the UK is suffering at the moment will be blown apart when the UK’s citizenry realise they are being regarded as ignorant fools by their own politicians, who are attempting to be suitably Green and don’t realise that they are standing in a queue waiting for a bus that has departed long ago..

  21. Bruce Cobb says:
    January 21, 2011 at 5:59 am
    Though there are some environmental concerns, primarily risks to groundwater,

    Concerns have been over-blown:

    Shale deposits are typically thousands of feet below ground water.
    Newer mixes of fracturing fluid have been using more non-toxic (common food additives) surfactants or substituting compressed gas (nitrogen) for water.
    Contamination, if it happens, will most likely come from poor installation of the well bore liner. Inspections and fining the crap out of drillers that cut corners could keep this problem to a minimum.
    The ‘flaming’ drinking water is almost always due to people drawing drinking water that passes through coal seems. The gas is naturally occurring from shallow methane pockets or bio-genic gas (bacteria feasting on hydrocarbons) and not from drilling.

  22. We have huge shale deposits here that are making millionaires out of folks in NW Louisiana. Shale gas is definitely a game changer, but it needs stronger dedicated markets for the purchase of the product. Natural gas prices are very low right now while the price of crude is relatively high. A significant expansion of shale gas production would further reduce the price and diminish exploration.

    If our “leaders” would put as much emphasis on encouraging natural gas powered vehicles as they do electric vehicles, the market for natural gas would expand and guarantee a decent return on exploration and production investments.

    Unfortunately, too many of our leaders are too busy trying to remove carbon from the Periodic Chart of the Elements to champion a fantastic source of clean, domestically produced energy.

  23. Pamela Gray stated ”
    Five: So, if you want to grow energy, something I think is doable, you have to admit that changing omnivores into herbivores along side increased crop energy production is just fantasy pot-smoking thinking.”
    I thought that feeding animals for human consumption required more arable land than providing the same amount of food for vegetarians.

  24. The magnitude of some things isn’t understood at the beginning. The invention of the first transistor is the foundation of the digital age – but the absolute revolution it caused in how we “know” and “remember” and “communicate” couldn’t be imagined. I suspect shale gas might be almost that big of a sleeper. There is so much of it and it is so clean it will completely transform the “energy economy” over the next half century. I have my doubts about its utility as a motor fuel – but we will heat our homes and generate electricity with it almost exclusively. The current low prices in gas have turned gas turbines into really efficient generating plants, right now! Gas plants are small and distributed – a real plus in reducing transmission costs and improving reliability. These are peaking units! They aren’t designed to be the most cost efficient generating stations – they are designed to meet peak demand. Anyway its really exciting. Instead of an energy crisis, we have discovered the planet is one big energy oasis. And for the AGW fretters; gas releases 40% less CO2 during combustion than coal.

  25. Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it — whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.

    – Barack Obama Jan. 2008

    Anyone who thinks Obama and company will allow a the development of clean, safe, inexpensive energy hasn’t been paying attention in class.

  26. Just a few years ago, the environmentalist saw natural gas as a nice ‘bridge fuel’ from oil and coal based energy, toward their next generation energy source. One of the reasons they like natural gas, is that it emitted almost half the CO2 per btu energy vs other hydrocarbon sources. But now that these new unconventional sources for natural gas are popping up, the environmentalists see natural gas as a ‘bridge too far’, hundreds of years of supply will inhibit the development of their pet renewable energy sources. So they have now turned against natural gas development.

    One of the ways to attack unconventional gas development is to raise issues about fracture stimulation, (without fracturing, you can’t develop unconventional shale gas). That is what is behind a new EPA study. despite the fact that it has been studied by Sandia, GRI, and many universities for 60 years.

  27. I may have understood this incorrectly, but didn’t I read on this blog a while back that there is a technology to convert this natural gas to liquid fuels like gasoline and diesel? If that were so, couldn’t this be a replacement for oil instead of just a supplement?

  28. If fracking results in fewer deaths, per year per unit of energy obtained, than does coal mining then it should be no more illegal than coal mining.

    People can be made afraid of new sources of potential injury, always greatly exagerated, when more familiar and far more deadly processes are accepted as part of normal production in an advanced industrial economy.

  29. David (6.51am)

    Spot on summary of UK government energy policy. There’s a vacancy for a No 10 spin doctor now :)

  30. Tom B says:
    January 21, 2011 at 8:21 am

    I may have understood this incorrectly, but didn’t I read on this blog a while back that there is a technology to convert this natural gas to liquid fuels like gasoline and diesel? If that were so, couldn’t this be a replacement for oil instead of just a supplement?

    They are playing around creating methane hydrates. Basically mixing methane and water. They discovered them in much greater abundance that they had seen before when they started recovering shale oil and gas. But the idea is to transport the gas as a hydrate CNG and LNG (compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas) are expensive and challenging transport technologies. ButI don’t think methane hydrates are fall down easy to make and unmake either. Usually there are readers who know a whole lot more about this stuff than I do. What issues do we have with methane hydrates? What potentials?

  31. The most recent Oil and Gas Journal has a full page ad for CleanStim, a hydraulic fracturing fluid made from “ingredients sourced in the food industry”. I suppose the greens will cry “rising food prices”, but you got to hand it to those oil companies, staying ahead of the issues while keeping us supplied with fuel. Now, if we could just get our bankers and government to perform as well……..

    Incidentally, I was just in Delhi, and every beat up bus and tuk-tuk is running on CNG. We need to do more of that here, and put more of that cheap natural gas to work.

  32. If you all want disinformation on gas production, Joe Romm does a great job.

    REPLY: Also bear in mind that Romm is a paid blogger, part on an larger organization funded by Soros among other people. The parent organization, the Center for American Progress gets about 30 million annually in funding according to IRS filings. – Anthony

  33. “250 years is a lot of gas”

    That’s always presaged with ‘at current consumption rates’.

    50 years ago we believed we had an unlimited supply of oil and we used it for everything. Transportation fuel, home heating fuel and electricity generation fuel.

    We still have some people stuck with oil heat for their homes and it took 40 years to phase out oil as a fuel for electrical generation in the US.

    Worldwide there are 11 million CNG vehicles on the road and that number is rising.

    http://www.iangv.org/home.html

  34. The shale gas boom is on in Texas and has been for years. Wells tapping into the Barnet Shale can be seen all over the DFW metroplex and surrounding countryside.

  35. Tom B says:
    January 21, 2011 at 8:21 am

    I may have understood this incorrectly, but didn’t I read on this blog a while back that there is a technology to convert this natural gas to liquid fuels like gasoline and diesel?

    Its called GTL. The Pearl GTL plant in Qatar is scheduled to be online in 2012. Its run by Shell with Sasol’s Co. technology. There are two American companies that also offer similar technology.

    http://www.shell.com/home/content/aboutshell/our_strategy/major_projects_2/pearl/overview/

  36. I’m all for shale gas; provided they scrub it of all the nasty carbon before they ship it to the consumer.

    I no longer eat organic foods because of the poisonous carbon in it; so I don’t want carbon in my gas fuel either.

    Anybody know just what (chemically) this shale gas consists of. Most hydrocarbons have some sort of chemical formula; does this stuff or is sort of atomically amorphous ?
    I don’t even know what ordinary natural natural gas is; or gasoline for that matter; I’m sure that gasoline is not 87% C8H18

  37. There are still some easy fixes out there that could make a significant difference. For example, In the US we burn on average 7.2 billion gallons of Fuel oil per year to heat houses and factories.

    http://www.heatingoil.com/articles/heating-oil-usage-average/

    At todays prices that is over 15 billion dollars that are leaving our economy and going to people like Chavez and the nice guys in the middle east.
    If we converted those houses to natural gas, all that money would be staying in our own economy.

  38. It is wonderful to see that the world still has ample sources of hydrocarbons. We are going to need it. Unfortunately, the world’s energy demand since 1965 to present has been growing at a phenomenal rate of 2.6% per year. In other words, if this trend continuous, the world will consume 3 times more energy in 2050 than in 2010. Let us not fool ourselves. The bulk of the energy in 2050 will still come from fossel fuels, and since conventional oil reservoirs will be in serious decline by 2050, the world will have switched to coal and natural gas by this time. The projected life of natural gas resources in the article is wrong since it does not take into account this massive shift to natural gas as a source of energy. This shift is rapidly occurring right now since gas is roughly 3 times cheaper on a energy content basis than conventional oil. Unfortunately, these deep gas shales represent one of the last untapped sources of fossel fuels.
    It is crime that this current generation is not taking more responsibility to fund serious long term energy research. This country and collectively this planet will need to identify the most cost effective alternative to fossel fuels in the next few decades before the last of these fossel fuel resource are exhausted (sometime around by 2100). What is difficult to appreciate unless you have worked in alternative energy is that the research and development of new technologies takes decades. For example, developers of Li-ion batteries for automobile applications must demonstate that these batteries can last the life of the car under all conditions. I gave a graduate seminar on Li-ion batteries 25 years ago, and they are just now being considered in automobile applications. Unfortunately, Li-ion batteries are still not even cost competitive against the lead-acid cell, which still starts every automobile. We are running out of time to solve this long term problem. For even after our society has identified a renewable or sustainable source of energy, it will take another 50 years or more to fully displace fossel fuels. This is the bare facts of energy and energy research.

    So what is the US doing? Currently the US Department of Energy is mainly focused on biofuels and carbon dioxide sequestration. Both of these efforts will not address the long term shortage of fossel fuels that this planet has become so dependent on. The arguement that every little bit of energy counts is false. To meet the total world energy demand in 2050 with a biomass source of energy would require new farm land that exceeds 1.3 times the land surface area of the US (assuming a 1% conversion factor of solar energy to stored biomass energy). Where is this land coming from? What about water? How are we going to produce meaningful quantities of biofuels without seriously impacting food production?

    We need the world governments to be focused on technologies that can be scaled to the dimensions that will be needed in the future. Thus I like large scale solar thermal, concentrated PV (where both electricity and heat can be collected), fusion-fission plants, solar hydrogen (which can be used to increase the stored energy found in biofuels). Private industry cannot afford to conduct the basic energy research because the “payoff” will not occur for decades to come. The low priced natural gas will prevent this from happening.

  39. There seems to be a bit of paralogic UK government bashing going on here over the Tyndall report calling for a moratorium on shale gas developments. It is worth remembering that “The Tyndall report was commissioned by The Co-operative, an institutional investor in oil firms.” (i.e. in competition with shale gas) but that “UK ministers have rejected a moratorium, saying that drilling for shale gas does not pose a threat.” Further (as simply stated above by Larry at 8:12 am) “The UK is developing shale gas.”

    I know its fun to have a pop at politicians and on the whole we are up for it but there are some of us on the inside working very hard to bring common sense to these decisions and – well – sometimes it would be nice to get a little recognition for that.

    Not holding my breath…

  40. A couple of months ago my brother informed me of an oil and gas lease my father puchased in the 40’s. It’s a huge piece and it’s smack in the middle of the Bakken formation. Wherever you are out there Papa, thanks!………I think.

  41. The potential shale gas resource is large. However, decline rates for wells are also substantial, and recent nat gas prices around $4/mmbtu are insufficient to stimulate additional drilling. Most shale gas drillers are currently reducing gas drilling to await better prices. More realistically, shale gas will work in the $6-9/mmbtu range.

    Hydrofracking is a long-established technique. It may include biocides and other chemicals. These may not be released into the environment untreated. In most cases, produced water from fracking and naturally occuring in wells are re-injected into old oil wells. In Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale, the flowback rate (returning water) is only 15-20% of the fluid used in fracking. The gas wells themselves are dry, ie, not tied to the water table above. The returned fluid is diluted with fresh water and used for subsequent fracking jobs. As such, there is no waste water per se in many cases.

    Fracking is safe if well-completion (casing and cementing) is conducted in a proper fashion. Also, enpondments (fluid storage ponds) and piping have to be sound, but this is pretty standard stuff.

    Peak oil is almost certainly real. We’ve seen no real increase in oil production in the last five years, even as much more capital is being applied to the industry. From 1995-2004, incremental production of 1 mbpd (million barrels per day) required $180 billion in upstream capital expenditure; from 2005-2010, the required expenditure rose six-fold, to $1.07 trillion, for the same increase in production. The IEA, an international energy agency, has called peak crude oil production for 2006.

    Our in-house studies suggest the next oil shock is likely in 2012, but probably not later than 2014.

  42. If shale gas were so abundant and cheap why are the early shale players reducing drilling and trying to raise capital to drill for shale oil instead? I think that it makes sense to stop falling for hype as told to us by self-proclaimed experts and to see the real world as it is for ourselves. Shale has an energy density that is equivalent to a potato. Most of the hydrocarbons are trapped in the rock and hard to get out. While fracking can help release some of the hydrocarbons there is a problem of the energy content that needs to be expended to get energy out of the formations. So far it is looking as if the only thing that makes shale gas a success is an accounting assumption about the ultimate recovery per well. The assumptions are not supported by the empirical data, which suggests that the accounts are doubling the most likely production estimate in order to make the projects seem profitable. The problem is that eventually someone has to run out of money or credit because cash flows are negative and insufficient to keep production going.

    So far the data is indicating that investors should be looking to coal and conventional oil instead. Once the shale scam is exposed and the bubble bursts the conventional reserves will become much more valuable. And we will have to look for conventional gas in areas that are likely to have an abundance of it but cannot produce it at a profit because they are too far from their markets. I can see a big gas to liquids plant in Mexico being very profitable once the idiots in the government allow foreign companies to develop reserves that should be there but cannot be found by PEMEX.

  43. Shale gas extraction (fracking) is a serious environmental mess especially when its unregulated… just go and see whats going on in Arkansas.

    http://www.bbsradio.com/cgi-bin/webbbs/webbbs_config.pl?md=read;id=11991

    We can all understand the need to be energy independent but one needs to know whats going on with this industry and the horror stories associated with before blindly accepting anything and ending up with a leaking gas well in your back yard. In Quebec, folks want a moratorium about real safety issues and not GHGs concerns some environmental groups may have. After initially trusting this industry, the Quebec government is having second thoughts, and justly so…

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/technology/Province+reverses+position+shale/4145107/story.html

  44. Alexander K says: January 21, 2011 at 7:40 am
    The UK government’s attitude to energy is alarming – they are embracing. I am sure that the mental logjams the UK is suffering at the moment will be blown apart when the UK’s citizenry realise they are being regarded as ignorant fools by their own politicians, who are attempting to be suitably Green and don’t realise that they are standing in a queue waiting for a bus that has departed long ago..
    —————————————————————————
    But Alexander, do the English politicians make any decisions of any consequence any longer? Aren’t all the significant decisions affecting the UK made in Brussels now? If so, you are horizontally stuffed in the UK because the UK citizenry has no effect on decision making.

    Douglas in Dunedin

  45. “MG | On shale gas and cows’ farts

    Nothing livens a heavy debate about climate change and shale gas quite like cows’ farts.

    Natural Resources Minister Nathalie Normandeau recently suggested that an exploratory shale gas well emits less greenhouse gas than your average cow.

    {…]

    Note:

    “I swear — I’m not making this stuff up!””

    http://www.jacksnewswatch.com/

    …-

    Green Life:

    “On shale gas and cows’ farts”

    ["burps" vs "cow's farts"]

    “Meanwhile the shale gas industry wants to put 5,000 new wells on Quebec territory, and the impact on Quebec’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction target has not been calculated.”

    http://communities.canada.com/montrealgazette/blogs/greenlife/archive/2011/01/20/on-shale-gas-and-cows-farts.aspx

  46. David O. says:
    January 21, 2011 at 7:11 am
    The keys to this historic success have been engineering inventiveness in drilling and completion technologies, together with recognition by geologists of the vast recoverable resources in rocks previously considered to be non-prospective.

    This is the latest example of the abject failure of Ehrlich (Population Bomb) and Club of Rome. Those were world-class misjudgements, and they still don’t get it.
    —————————————————————————
    David O, thank you for both observations – it is good to hear from and listen to someone who knows what he is talking about. If only the politicians would listen—–.!

    Douglas

  47. Pamela Gray says:
    January 21, 2011 at 6:42 am
    “My thoughts:
    One: Anything being extracted from the ground other than open pit coal and sweet oil is gonna be more expensive, even without environmental controls.”

    Don’t think that’s the case with coal bed methane, of which we have an abundance here in Wyoming, as we have an abundance of coal. Extraction requires pumping the water out of the coal seams to release the gas which creates some problems of its own. However, given the fervor with which Anadarko is pursuing this resource right now with gas prices relatively low, I have to assume it is very economically feasible. I don’t know the relative dollar expense numbers but drilling depths are generally 1000 to 2000 ft, not the deep 5000 to 15000 feet of traditional oil/gas supplies which must mean it is much less expensive. More wells are, however, required to properly tap these coal seams.

  48. LNG tanker imports have exploded the last few years in Europe.

    http://www.livetradingnews.com/gas-demand-grows-in-europe-31102.htm

    Shale gas is not particularly suited for LNG. However recently there have been enormous discoveries of natural gas in the Israel offshore. The play is spreading to Cyprus and Lebanon. A recently discovered field in Israel has an estimated 14 TCF of gas. This is looking to be a major geopolitical change in energy distribution and supply for Europe.

    http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=israeli-gas-discoveries-could-affect-regional-politics-2011-01-17

  49. Vangel says:
    January 21, 2011 at 10:35 am
    If shale gas were so abundant and cheap why are the early shale players reducing drilling and trying to raise capital to drill for shale oil instead?

    Vangel,
    The answer to your question is simple, oil is currently at $90/bbl and natural gas is a $4.5/mcf. A bbl of oil has about 6 times the btu content of an mcf of gas, this means that natural gas is currently selling for $27 per bbl oil equivilant, less than 1/3 the price of oil. One of the reasons that natural gas is currently so cheap compared to oil, is because of the amazing success of shale gas in the past few years. We currently have a huge excess in natural gas production capacity, (check out the EIA web site). As soon as the supply and demand ratio starts to reverse, people will increase the amount of gas drilling once again.
    There is also another untapped resource of natural gas, that is even larger than shale gas, trapped in methane hydrates. We will not run out of natural gas for many generations.

  50. John Peter says:
    January 21, 2011 at 7:57 am

    “I thought that feeding animals for human consumption required more arable land than providing the same amount of food for vegetarians.”

    Might I suggest that most animals grown for human consumption are produced on land that cannot be considered arable. This land usually has at least one of the following characteristics:
    Poor water supply/arid
    Very steep country
    Low fertility
    Excessive temperature ranges or too hot or cold
    Heavily aforrested

    Animals can be considered as a means of concentrating a poor potential for food production into a reasonable potential, because of their ability to move around concentrating poor quality plant material into high quality protein.

    The main exception to using poor country for animal production would be in raising cattle for milk production, which requires good pasture, i.e. arable land.

  51. Shale oil/gas is not new. What is new is $100/bbl oil and technology getting cheaper. Should this trend continue, watch how fast OPEC decides that $100 is too high. They did it before to kill the boom, I do not put it past them to try it again.

  52. Composition of natural gas

    Natural gas is a combustible mixture of hydrocarbon gases. While natural gas is formed primarily of methane, it can also include ethane, propane, butane and pentane. The composition of natural gas can vary widely, but below is a chart outlining the typical makeup of natural gas before it is refined.

    Methane is 70%-90% of NG out of the well, what’s delivered is almost pure methane, with an odorant called mercaptan added so leaks can be detected easily.

    Shale gas is just natural gas trapped in shale deposits, gasoline is a mixture of hydrocarbons ranging from C5 to C10, some cyclic, some straight chain.

  53. Should this trend continue, watch how fast OPEC decides that $100 is too high. They did it before to kill the boom, I do not put it past them to try it again.

    Too many oil producers need the money. Nigeria and Venezuela will collapse without high prices. Iran will be in trouble too, for that matter. OPEC is no longer the closed, largely Arab, organisation that it was.

    The only way price can really, really come down is if the Saudis flood the oil market. My understanding is that they don’t have the production capacity to do that.

  54. Steve Koppits has it right. In addition, shale gas well production rate declines about 60% in the first year, and becomes unproductive in about 5 years, so at a given level of production it is necessary to “run like H— ” just to stay in place. At prices below $6.00/bcf producers can’t afford new gear for drilling. They will use existing gear on existing developments to recover marginal cost for a time. Also, while the Shale formations are vast, most projections of gas production assume that the entire formation can produce like the areas being exploited, which is nonsensical. Developers always try to develop the best plays first. divide any estimates you have seen so far by at least 3. Also conventional gas in the USA is in decline, and in the UK is in advanced decline, and the shale gas has to offset the decline. It is unlikely that North American NG production will get more than 50% above the average of the last 5 years, and unlikely that shale gas will push the peak out more than 20 years at such volume. Its great to have the resource, but it is not a magic bullet.
    Also it is likely that producers are underestimating, or downplaying the water pollution risk from frakking. Yes the gas is well below the water table, but there is evidence that water migrates upwards through faults in the rock to contaminate ground water, and there have also been cases of gas percolating up to produce flammable surface water, with molecular analysis proving that the gas came from the deep formations. A couple of counties in Pa. have already outlawed frakking. Don’t get too excited y’all.

  55. Steve Koppits has it wrong. Shale gas is being produced in the $3 range. Many companies have plain and simply cut their expenses in half.

    Meanwhile, the high oil prices have turned around oil production declines. Even here in the USA, the most drilled up “post peak oil” area, we’ve seen three years of increases production and reserves.

    The whole peak oil thing was built around data from a long period of basically flat (inflation compensated) oil prices. The current prices are higher, and if they persist, they will warp Hubbert’s curves beyond recognition.

  56. Murray Duffin says,
    Also, while the Shale formations are vast, most projections of gas production assume that the entire formation can produce like the areas being exploited, which is nonsensical. Developers always try to develop the best plays first. divide any estimates you have seen so far by at least 3.

    Murray, we just started exploring, let alone exploiting, the vast shale formations. We (they) can’t develop the best plays first, because they haven’t discovered the best plays. Murray Duffin is talking like this is the end-game, but its the beginning. Costs are plummeting, fracking technology is improving rapidly. Idiot counties in PA notwithstanding, this is a boom with legs, a boom like no other. We’ll be multiplying not dividing estimates – and we’ll be using numbers a lot bigger than three.

  57. See http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7075 , and dream on. The first two formations developed have been completely explored. The Marcellus will follow the same “sweet spot” scenario.
    Doug, you can’t produce what you haven’t discovered. Check discoveries over the last 60 years. Also check the “Megaprojects” wiki. Where are the developments that will produce increases when the base production is declining about 4-5%/year? Dream on.

  58. The USA sits on 27.1% of the entire world’s supply of recoverable coal reserves, and incredibly 78% of the entire world’s supply of recoverable shale oil reserves.

    And now the US Marcellas Gas Shale field is coming on line.

    Makes you wonder why we are importing anything, doesn’t it!

  59. Murray, read your link, http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7075 carefully. It’s warning you how hard it will be for investors to make money, a decent ROI, on shale gas. Yes, some of the wells won’t put out 100% for 65 years like the promoters in the bucket shops would have you think. Yes, the entire seventeen county area in the Barnett shale is not all equally productive. Your link talks about ALL the potential for the INVESTMENTS to be disappointing all the while acknowledging how huge the actual deposits are. Base production declining? Isn’t that a moving target? “More fully explored than the other shale formations” If you’d said that, I’d say, “OK” But you say they are fully explored and then infer they are fully developed. That is simply not true.

  60. All form of resource extraction leave a footprint – its often downplayed by the producers and over-blown by the greens.
    That fact remains that thousands of shale gas wells have been drilled without issue, but the focus falls on those problematic wells where operators have not followed proper protocol. Shale gas development is breaking out all over Europe; energy security and environmental issues will have to find a way to co-exist. Natural Gas for Europe focuses on unconventional resources, providing updated information on the plays, players and activities http://www.naturalgasforeurope.com

  61. Sorry Murray, if you are getting your information from the oil drum website, you might be a little misinformed. Might as well waste your time at Realclimate.

    As someone who was once a bit Malthusian in college, and learned how wrong I was in a 30 year career in the oil business.

    The oil supply is holding in pretty well. Heck, I just sold some oil wells I obtained 25 years ago and they are producing more now than they did then. We drilled a slew of horizontal additions and increased production dramatically.

    The December 6 Oil and Gas Journal has a detailed country by country summary of worldwide prodution and reserves.

    Compared to last year oil production is up 2% and proven reserves are up 9%. Gas reserves are up too, while gas production is not reported.

    Mature area such as the US and Canada show increases, while Mexico and Norway lead the declines. The elephant in the room, Saudi Arabia continues to increase reserves, finding more oil than they produce, and claims they can keep up the current rate of production for 80 years without finding another drop. I’m not sure I believe that, but it is irrelevant, becase they ARE finding more.

    I just finished an interesting trip. I spent 10 days in Nepal and Bhutan with employees of Saudi Aramco, followed by a month in India. I heard first hand about the production in Saudi and saw first hand the burgeoning demand potential from breakneck development in India. Interesting how far ahead of us India is in CNG powered trucks and busses.

    From my point of view, if oil prices stay high new production will keep rolling in, and old production will see continued revitalization I don’t see a peak oil catastrophy in the works.

    Here’s a nice article:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/17/business/energy-environment/17FUEL.html?_r=2&ref=businessspecial2

  62. @Sloane says:
    January 21, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Wow, that’s some serious, incisive reporting. Now I’m quaking in my boots. Who knows, there could be an “Old Faithful”-sized eruption right here in River City because someone in Arkansas is “fracking” the Earth. Cowabunga, Buffalo Bob, this could be the next “Global Warming”.
    /sarc

  63. @JimF says:
    January 21, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Nooooo Jim this no new AGW bunk stuff, there are real proven health and safety issues associated with fracking. The reports are just a head’s up… do what you please with them.

  64. ” David O. says: January 21, 2011 at 7:11 am
    This is the latest example of the abject failure of Ehrlich (Population Bomb) and Club of Rome (Limits to Growth), both of which sucked me in when they were published. ”

    You are not alone. I was young and very impressionable when I read them and got really depressed. Then I read “The High Frontier by Gerard K O’Neill” (I still have the book) and promptly got over it. While I don’t agree with everything in the book it made me look at insurmountable problems as just more challenges that we WILL overcome.

    All the so called issues with shale gas are manageable and that is up to the companies to do and the governments to make sure it happens. The anti-shale gas propaganda has already started with the movie GasLand which is so full of holes it is like Swiss cheese.

  65. TimM ” The High Frontier.” is one of my favorites, too. I was thrown out of a Sociology
    class in College that the book ‘Ecotopia” was the central theme, asking untoward,uppity
    questions like: “Ah how does one get to the perfectly controlled, well behaved, peaceful
    society, without a good way to hide the piles of skulls and human remains that inevitably
    result?” Unbeliever! Heretic! I was asked to leave…

  66. @Don Shaw says:
    January 21, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    In any case without further investigation its hard to say if the birds in Arkansas
    where victims of toxic gas of any source. For sure those birds did not fly 800 miles to Arkansas from S.Dakota! Besides your post refers to Starlings and not the Blackbirds found dead in Arkansas three weeks ago. IMO, if the USDA was responsible the poisoning of the South Dakota Starlings as per your posted link, the USDA would have made a point to add the Arkansas Blackbirds to their list. More dead birds found in Sweden certainly thickens the plot as the whole bird issue remains a mystery…

  67. If the Russian scientists are correct and natural gas and most oil percolates up from the core, then we should find one or both everywhere under the crust, including under the ocean floor. It may pool beneath various formations, but it would still be widespread and even considered a renewable resource that is continually recharging at some rate. This may explain why some old oil wells never quite die.

    As we need the CO2 for improved crop growth and yields due to the coming cooling, this is a great thing.

  68. what about the natural gas reserves in Alaska? i thought there are hundreds of years of supply there. Bill Wattenburg and Bob Brinker have been advocating that the federal gov’t mandate that all new gov’t vehicles run on natural gas for a few years already even before these more recent shale gas developments. Is there any logical reason this doesn’t happen aside the politicians are owned by either oil or the greenies?

  69. “IEA: Natural Gas Can Supply World For 250 Years”

    Looking at Canada, shale gas will be negative EROEI within a few years on current production declines, they will be lucky if they can stretch the whole industry past a 20 yr lifespan from inception before it costs more energy to get it than is produced.

    The IEA have looked at one part of the equation, an analogy would be to say “the sea water of the Earth’s oceans contain about 25 billion ounces of gold (Burk 1989)”

    We’re rich! Buy Sea water!

    Shale gas is enjoying a massive scale boiler room scam IMO. It will attract much investment, more bubble economics, before the inevitable reality strikes.

  70. No Frosty – shale gas is not like gold in seawater – not anymore! Forty-five years ago, my dad told me the US oil shale formations dwarfed every other oil reserve in the world, but nobody knew an economical way to get it out. Jimmy Carter’s fiasco in Rifle, Colorado demonstrated nobody knew how to get it out. The Barnett, Hainsville and Bakken shale formations are now yielding oodles of gas and oil – through the combination of two techniques; deep horizontal boring and fracking. Neither of these technologies are mature, we are on a fast learning curve and these two techniques are rapidly improving. The silica sand used in the fracking process will be replaced with synthetic particles that have ideal specific gravities and can be pushed deeper into the fractures. 3m has patented some of those very recently. Fracking fluids are constantly tweaked and experimented with and both big and incremental improvements are the norm out there.

    You and Murray are observing something that has been observed for a very, very, very long time in the oil patch. “The future looks grim for our ROI and these wells will soon run out of gas/oil.” But none of that changes the immensity of economically recoverable shale gas and oil. Its always hard to make money. Lots of money will be lost developing the shale formations in addition to lots of money being made. But if you don’t think these shale formations are a game changer; well, “there are none so blind as those who will not see”

  71. Frosty says:
    January 22, 2011 at 3:54 am
    Shale gas is enjoying a massive scale boiler room scam IMO. It will attract much investment, more bubble economics, before the inevitable reality strikes.

    Believe what you will. The number of wells drilled in the Marcellus Shale have gone from 27 in 2007 to 1,386 last year. That’s a huge investment in a “scam”. Oil companies must be really dumb, I guess.
    Time will tell. There are ways to increase the productivity, by refracking, for example. Environmental concerns need to be addressed, of course, and will be. There will always be those with an agenda who will be willing to falsely attack what could be a very promising source of energy.

  72. tmtisfree, January 21, 2011 at 5:34 am:

    Thanks for the link:

    Published Jan 20, 2011
    Investors Abandon Green Energy after Huge New Gas and Oil Finds

    http://www.suite101.com/content/investors-abandon-green-energy-in-wake-of-huge-new-gas-and-oil-fi-a335451

    Which led to this link:

    Brazil Oil Fields May Hold More Than Twice Estimates
    By Peter Millard – Jan 19, 2011 (Bloomberg)

    “Brazilian oil deposits below a layer of salt in the Atlantic Ocean hold at least 123 billion barrels of reserves, more than double government estimates, according to a university study by a former Petroleo Brasileiro SA geologist.”

    “We started with a skeptical view and finished with bigger numbers,” Chaves said in an interview at the university in the city of Rio. “When we got the first results I said: ‘Something is wrong, it’s too big.’”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-19/brazil-oil-fields-may-hold-more-than-twice-estimated-reserves.html

    And led to this link:

    Huge source of oil, gas found in South China Sea, Monday 17th January, 2011 (China News.Net)

    “Chinese geologists have detected ‘super-thick’ oil and gas-rich strata in the South China Sea and also identified 38 offshore oil and gas basins, a media report said Monday.”

    http://www.chinanews.net/story/732538/ht/Huge-source-of-oil-gas-found-in-South-China-Sea

    Hydrocarbons (crude oil and most natural gas) are a product of geological chemical formation: Oil is abiotic. So-called “peak” oil is a scam, just like AGW.

    The cummulative facts & evidence is overwhelming.

    The world’s supply of hydrocarbons is much greater than commonly understood (as the above linked reports demonstrate).

    For more evidence of Abiotic Oil Theory (numerous articles, reports, and discussion):

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

  73. Bruce Cobb says:
    January 22, 2011 at 5:12 am

    “Believe what you will. The number of wells drilled in the Marcellus Shale have gone from 27 in 2007 to 1,386 last year. That’s a huge investment in a “scam””

    The US consumes 20 trillion cubic feet of gas a year. At $4/mmbtu(1000 cubic feet) that makes gas an 80 billion dollar a year business.

    There are a lot of legitimate people questioning whether $4/mmbtu price is a result of the recession or a reflection of the true costs of extraction.

    Are all those wells being drilled on an expectation that gas prices will stay at $4/mmbtu or on an expectation that gas prices will rise to $8/mmbtu.

  74. Well, I know more about shale, shale gas, oil shales and frac’ing than I do about climate change (though I know that climate changes constantly, and the apparent assumption that the climate of the sixties was the optimum climate and CO2 production will cause the end of civilization is crazy), so it is interesting to read the spectrum of opinion on shale gas in this thread. There are a number of professionals making comments, I can recognize them because I tend to agree with them that there is vast potential for gas production, and that horizontal drilling and frac’ing technology is a responsible and cost-effective way to exploit the resource. Some of the plays will lose money, but oil and gas companies have long memories but do keep trying new methods, and the price of the commodities will rise and fall, but tend to rise over the long term, so whichever shales can produce economically will ultimately do so.
    Then there are the people who seem to get their information from investment bulletins, media and the internet, many have pertinent points and opinions, but some need to learn more about the technical and geological background involved in shale gas and the oil industry in general.
    It’s very interesting to read the comments and compare them to comments on other threads that pertain to greenhouse gases, climate change and apocalyptic predictions. The calibre and range of accuracy of commentary on the different topics is likely about the same, I haven’t noticed if the same people are making the same type of remarks, but I suspect that someone who says that the earth’s core is “millions of degrees” will also claim that the sea level will rise 20 feet or more by the end of the century.

    For the record:
    I think the concept attributed to Russian scientists, of mantle-sourced hydrocarbons is highly unlikely; the earth underwent gravitational fractionation in the distant past, and carbon is mostly restricted to the crust. Lighter elements do get subducted, and volcanoes in the mid-ocean ridges far away from relatively recent subduction do emit CO2, but to hope for significant hydrocarbons coming from below the crust is futile.

    Peak oil (and coal and gas) is likely, but new technology and increased commodity prices will tend to make it a long plateau rather than a peak with a rapid decline. This means countries should eventually invest in all viable means of energy extraction, production and conservation (possibly including semi-voluntary reduction in use through carbon taxes) that can be conceived, so that they will be able to maintain living standards in the future. The green scum CAGW demand that fossil fuel use be curtailed is economic and civilizational suicide by slow starvation. Their claim that projected CO2 production will cause climate catastrophe is not supportable. If the average temperature rises by a couple or few degrees, the world, humanity, and agriculture will be better for it. Natural systems will not notice and will adapt, erosion and deposition is constant along the coast, any corresponding sea-level rise will not change that process significantly.

  75. Flask,

    I appreciate your comments, however there are Abiotic Oil theories that don’t require oil to come from the mantel. There are theories that suggest hydrocarbons are formed in the crust:

    An abiotic oil presentation made to the Houston Geological Society (principally concerned with oil & gas):

    Cracks of the World: Global Strike-Slip Fault Systems and Giant Resource Accumulations, by Stanley B. Keith

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

    Keith’s resume:

    Stanley B. Keith has over 30 years of successful exploration experience in minerals and energy. Upon earning BS and MS degrees in geology from the University of Arizona, he became a field and research geologist focused on mineralogy, geologic mapping, stratigraphy, tectonics, and isotopic age dating. At Kennecott and the Arizona Geological Survey in the mid-1970s he recognized an empirical relationship between mineral deposits and magma series.”

    He [Keith] co-founded MagmaChem Exploration in 1983 for mineral exploration, working on numerous exploration and research projects for both mineral and energy exploration companies. 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.”

    Well worth reading the link as apparently the program director of the HGS thought it would be worthwhile to have Keith make the presentation to the group.

    Also from Stanley B. Keith:

    Hydrothermal Hydrocarbons, Stanley B. Keith and Monte M. Swan

    “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.”

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

    Apparently, the petroleum industry respects Keith and his associates enough so he can run an industry-supported consortium focussed on petroleum exploration based on abiotic oil theory.

    Dig a little deeper and you find the oil industry engages in a lot of exploration & production consitent with Abioitic Oil Theory.

  76. We’ve done the Abiotic Oil rave here before. I’ll pass this time around, but it is ironic that it surfaces in a thread on gas production by artificially fracturing organic shales.

    Explain to me one more time how all those abiotic hydrocarbons leaked into those impermeable shales, rather than being original, in situ organic matter.

  77. Doug. I would have to disagree with you about TOD. Perhaps you choose to disbelieve them because their message challenges your cherished paradigm. However they have numerous active oil industry contributors, they quantify and put in context their claims, they challenge each other’s analyses, and they cite cources. I have been following oil and gas closely as an investor and sometimes futures speculator for 14 years now, and I fine TOD quite credible.
    The key to any discussion of oil and gas is quantification and context. The article you cite only provides 2 bits of quantification and no context. Gulf oil production up 12% in 10 years – thats about 190k b/d, or 0.1% of USA consumption. Bakken production “rocketing” to 350k b/d – WOW- 0.17% of USA daily consumption. Both are better than decline, but USA total production has declined 2-3%/yr since 1970, so about 170 mb/d in 2010. Over the last 5 years the Bakken rocket has offset maybe 40% of the USA decline – nice, but not a savior.
    The O&GJ reports what individual producers supply them as info. OPEC reserves never decline, and haven’t for about 30 years, while OPEC has produced more than 300 Gb. Saudi Arabia has produced nearly 100 Gb in the last 30 years, has done very little new exploration, and has experienced no decline in reserves. Magic!! A couple of years ago Canada’s reserves shot up, because Canada reclassified tar sands as reserves, but they are reserves that cannot be produced rapidly. Flows matter more than stocks. Five years ago Canada projected tar sands production of 3mb/d by 2015. Now it is by 2020.
    All liquids production has indeed gone up by 2 mb/d, with all of the increase being non-conventional liquids, with an EROEI much lower than conventional oil, and NGLs and ethanol having much lower energy/b than petroleum. Divide the barrels by 3 to get net energy equivalent.
    I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Your optimism is touching but just can’t stand up to serious quantification and context. Murray

  78. James F. Evans says:

    “Dig a little deeper and you find the oil industry engages in a lot of exploration & production consitent with Abioitic Oil Theory.”

    Sure, some companies have done exploration based on that, generally unsuccessfully, and Doug’s question about organic shales is the best reply. The oil industry has successfully used the organic source paradigm so far, some will investigate the mantle-sourced abiotic oil, and some will investigate Keith’s deep burial geochemical ideas. If there is any great success, those models will be copied, but I predict it will be nothing like the game change from shale gas.

    Interesting in those reports you cited, the rates of movement and direction of various continents. I remember seeing elsewhere that Antarctica was moving westward (generally towards the Pacific, just west of South America), but it was moving slower than the other continents. That jives with some of Keith’s comments. The point is that Antarctica is isolated climatically as well, and that it will be very cold down there for a long time, geologically a long time, and I doubt if much ice will melt there any time soon. Possibly some from the West Antarctic ice sheet, but not the main accumulation.

  79. Doug stated: “We’ve done the Abiotic Oil rave here before.”

    I do recall and you failed to respond to more than once to various facts & evidence presented that support Abiotic Oil Theory.

    But, Doug, your problem isn’t with me, it’s with Stanley B. Keith, a geologist with over 30 years experience “in the business” who runs an industry-supported consortium, Sonoita Geoscience Research, that uses Abiotic Oil Theory in their exploration work.

    Dour stated: “Explain to me one more time how all those abiotic hydrocarbons leaked into those impermeable shales, rather than being original, in situ organic matter.”

    First, the shale is not organic, in the sense that it’s entirely constituted of organic detritus. That is your assumption. It DOES have hydrocarbons in it, including methane, and a percentage of organic detritus, but, again, that does not make it “organic shale”.

    That is not to say there isn’t any residual organic detritus contained within the shale, and, indeed, methane can form from organic detritus, but the bulk of the methane is not formed from organic detritus, instead, as Keith & Swanson describe it, the methane is a result of abiotic, mineral formation processes.

    And, as Keith & Swan point out in their work, hydrocarbon bearing shale is likely formed as a result of “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.”

    From Peridotites, Serpentinization, and Hydrocarbons, Keith & Swan:

    “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.”

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

    In other words, the methane is embedded within the shale as the shale was deposed in the rock formation either as sediment or a dike formation.

    So, to answer your question, the methane does not “leak” into “impermeable shales”, but is part and parcel of the shale as it is being deposed within the rock formation.

  80. James Evans re Keith, Ghawar and hydrothermal dolomites – please see the following links. Oil companies spend billions of dollars per year on exploration and development, and have done so for many decades. Oil fields follow a clear pattern from large to small, and the large ones get found first. AFAIK no giant fields have been found since 2003. I seriously doubt that there is some new geology that has hitherto been overlooked. And it is very very unlikely that Ghawar can be called hydrothermal dolomite. Murray

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V6X-46KR7FV-2&_user=10&_coverDate=10%2F01%2F2002&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1616282962&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=7a062ff01e6f5fcda60bcc45984d6a64&searchtype=a

    http://mgg.rsmas.miami.edu/faculty/pswart/swart%20et%20al%202005a.pdf

  81. Gunther Dieckmann says:
    January 21, 2011 at 10:14 am
    “We need the world governments to be focused on technologies that can be scaled to the dimensions that will be needed in the future.”

    Gunther, you are right about the need to research these technologies and fund the research with public money. What is wrong in my opinion is the huge amount of subsidies going into *installing* premature solutions, as we are doing now.

  82. My sister had a patio paved with cut slabs of oil shale. It was full of fossils. It would kind of burn. It was flaky and was not ideal paving stone. It came out of the mother of all shale formations, the Green River.

    Its not entirely organic? Well there is so much organic in it – ok, correlation ain’t causation, but I’m with Doug, I don’t think shale hydrocarbons are abiotic. I can’t stretch that far.

  83. <<>>

    Glad to see we have such knowledgeable people on this board. “It’s like that scene in “A Fish Called Wanda”( “I warn you, I used to box for Oxford” “Oooo, I used to kill for the CIA”) I have been finding and producing oil and gas for 30 years. My client list includes half the major oil companies. My wife worked for Saudi Aramco and Exxon research.

    I never fails to be amazed at people who will latch onto some fringe ideas, be they from an internet site , some mining geologist trying to get funding from mainstream oil companies, an astrophysicist way out of his field, or some Russian who worked up unproductive theories in virtual academic isolation. They’ll preach until blue in the face, raving on about their remarkable insight.

    Meanwhile, those of us clinging to our stale old paradigms continue to have access to all the best technology and data, continue to improve upon a vast body of solid science, and continue to keep the world fueled.

    For entire history of the oil business, in spite of dire predictions, there have been adequate supplies. Those supplies, in spite of various fringe theories, can be linked to biotic sources. I suspect the next 30 years will be more of the same.

  84. Flask presented Evans’ statement: “Dig a little deeper and you find the oil industry engages in a lot of exploration & production consitent with Abioitic Oil Theory.”

    Flask then responded: “Sure, some companies have done exploration based on that, generally unsuccessfully…”

    On the contrary, the ultra-deep water, ultra-deep oil found off the Brazilian coast is completely consistent with Abiotic Oil Theory, so is the ultra-deep Gulf of Mexico. But just as important, it completely contradicts the “oil window” theory of diagenesis and catagenesis because the oil is found deeper and hotter than what the so-called “oil window” theory would predict.

    And, Brazil’s national oil company is finding huge amounts of oil. One giant field, Carioca, found just a couple of years ago, is thought to have as much as 33 billion barrels of oil.

    And, this oil is as hot as 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

    (Bloomberg) “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=newsarchive&sid=aalWn.eJHGZk&refer=latin_america

    The same type of temperatures (45o degrees Fahrenheit) are found in the ultra-deep Gulf of Mexico oil deposits.

    The so-called “oil window” posits that oil can’t form at higher than about 275 degrees Fahrenheit which was believed to happen deeper than 15,000 feet deep and/or would cause breakdown into methane above that temperature.

    Flask stated: “The oil industry has successfully used the organic source paradigm so far…” Actually, it’s not the organic source paradigm that has increased the finding of oil (in the old days before 3D sonic) there was 27 “dry holes” for every successful one.

    It is the ability to “see” the oil via sonic techniques, which are very successful.

    But, to give Flask credit, as I’ve described how shale, often described as “source” rock, is part of the abiotic process, finding shale is likely to lead to oil.

    Brazil Oil Fields May Hold More Than Twice Estimates
    By Peter Millard – Jan 19, 2011 (Bloomberg)

    “Brazilian oil deposits below a layer of salt in the Atlantic Ocean hold at least 123 billion barrels of reserves, more than double government estimates, according to a university study by a former Petroleo Brasileiro SA geologist.”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-01-19/brazil-oil-fields-may-hold-more-than-twice-estimated-reserves.html

    Flask, I’d say 123 billion barrels is very successful (admittedly this is more than one oil “field”, but, rather an oil bearing region off the coast of Brazil).

    And Keith’s ideas are being followed all over the world (West Africa, ultra-deep Gulf of Mexico, Eastern Mediterranean gas and many others — mostly off-shore).

    Murray Duffin, I appreciate the link and abstract, but that is about definitions. I agree definitions need to be tightened up, but in no way does that contradict or even address the physical theory which Keith presents. Also, remember Ghawar, Saudi Arabia, has been pumping since about 1951 and shows no sign of slowing down even after pumping a equivalent of a 19 mile cube of oil.

    William Abbott, the Green River shale is, indeed, a deposit of shale formed from ancient lake sediments, but as I stated above, the hydrocarbons embedded within the shale, both ‘heavy’ hydrocarbons, H330C215, often called ‘kerogen’, and most of the methane is not formed from the organic detritus.

    There simply isn’t enough heat & pressure to turn low chemical enery potential organic detritus into high chemical energy potential ‘heavy’ hydrocarbon kerogen.

    It runs afoul of the second law of thermodynamics, the law of increasing entropy.

    Kerogen and most of the methane are products of mineralogical formation.

  85. Doug, you don’t respond to facts & evidence presented.

    Offshore magazine is the premiere trade publication for offshore oil exploration & development. In the January 2010 edition they have a very good article on oil exploration & development in the Gulf of Mexico:

    Lower Tertiary play: Is it Gulf of Mexico’s final frontier

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

    Some sceptics might say, “sure, you make it sound like Abiotic Oil, but that’s your take, what do the insiders have to say about all this ultra-deep water, ultra-deep drilling?”

    The article gives a good account of what insiders within the oil industry have to say:

    “Just as the voyagers of the science fiction Starship Enterprise probed the outer reaches of space to reveal new worlds, oil and gas exploration teams, working in the real world, have boldly gone where no one has gone before to discover giant fields in the deepest reaches of the Gulf of Mexico. They have taken a peek at billions of barrels of potential reserves. There are no Klingons to battle, but the operators and service companies will have to deploy next-generation technologies, some still in design and development, to overcome the greatest risks the industry has encountered to date. The technology challenges include extreme water and target depths, seismically dense salt canopy, low-porosity and low-permeability reservoirs, and high-pressure/high-temperature (HP/HT) downhole conditions.”

    The development of safety technology, which regrettably has lagged behind, has to be increased to the level of the exploration & production technology.

    The above quoted passage from Offshore magazine is the lead paragraph of the story and it gives a preview of what the oil industry is up to in ultra-deep water, ultra-deep drilling.

    First we know it is huge:

    “The Lower Tertiary play could be as wide as 300 mi (483 km) and involve as many as 3,000 blocks,” according to the Minerals Management Service (MMS) Gulf of Mexico Regional Director Lars Herbst.”

    “Potential reserve estimates for the Lower Tertiary play vary wildly from 3 to 15 Bboe because much of the play remains untested. A better gauge of value can be discerned from the capacity of some of the production facilities currently under construction or in engineering design…”

    I have previously discussed the high temperature & pressure of the oil deposits:

    “Bottomhole pressure in the Lower Tertiary wells is expected to exceed 20,000 psi (138 MPa) and the temperature to exceed 400° F (204° C). Current technology can accommodate either high pressure or high temperature. With both high pressure and high temperature, the completion equipment has to be redesigned, possibly with new higher strength, low-corrosion metals and elastomers as higher temperature also increases corrosion effects. A similar redesign process is under way for extreme-condition packers and cementing equipment.”

    “Our customers in the Lower Tertiary play routinely encounter depths below 20,000 ft (6,096 m) and pressures above 20,000 psi, making it is necessary to use high-density fluids for reducing surface treating pressures,” explains Richard Vaclavik, GoM Region vice president, Halliburton.”

    The deep waters of the Gulf of mexico were not always looked at favorably by the oil companies:

    “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. 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?”

    This is because the physical conditions violate the so-called “oil window” theory as previously discussed in my prior comment.

    The fact that the author of the story would even ask about “abyssal depths of greater than 12,000 ft (3,658 m) in the Sigsbee deep” suggests oil companies are seriously considering that possibility. Also, there is more evidence to suggest the oil companies are serious beyond the say so of this story’s author.

    It’s not what the oil companies say, it’s what they do: Actions speak louder than words:

    “With five-year drilling contracts from Chevron in hand, Transocean has placed into service two ultra deepwater drillships built to the operator’s specifications. The Discoverer Clear Leader began drilling operations in August 2009. The second vessel, Discoverer Inspiration, is scheduled for delivery in early 2010. Both drillships are capable of drilling in 12,000 ft (3,658 m) of water to a total depth of 40,000 ft (12,192 m), exceeding the limitations of existing rigs.”

    “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.”

    Research & development for oil deposits as high in temperature as 700 degrees Fahrenheit, and twice the pressures currently encountered, it strongly suggests the oil majors think there is oil much deeper than is even presently being located at, likely deeper than 30,000 feet below the bottom of the seabed (Mount Everest is 29,000 ft above sea level).

    No micro-organisms in those conditions or no ancient shallow lake beds either.

    The so-called “oil window” theory has not just been soundly contradicted, it has been blown out of the water!

  86. What about chemo-synthesizing archaea? They live in such extreme environments we can’t even observe them. Living deep inside ocean vents at extraordinary temperatures, they are methanogenic. I’ve seen extrapolations that they are the most numerous life-form on earth (I didn’t do the math myself, and the extrapolators didn’t show their work). Could they be the source of all this really deep gas and oil? I’ve heard that oil and gas have distinctly organic “fingerprints.” All these molecules are organic, aren’t they? Abotic oil has to be essentially a whole new branch of chemistry – Inorganic Organic chemistry?

  87. Doug: “Fine. Except “the Russian Scientistists” [sic] are very, very, wrong.

    Fine! Except the Russian scientists are supported by the geological evidence, proof of principle in the laboratory, and compliance with thermodynamic constraints. Their theory accounts not only for the extraordinary abundance of hydrocarbons here, but on Titan:

    Titan is a planet-sized hydrocarbon factory. Instead of water, vast quantities of organic chemicals rain down on the moon‘s surface, pooling in huge reservoirs of liquid methane and ethane. Solid carbon-based molecules are also present in the dune region around the equator, dwarfing Earth’s total coal supplies.
    http://www.universetoday.com/12800/titan-has-hundreds-of-times-more-liquid-hydrocarbons-than-earth/

    Earth is also a planet-sized hydrocarbon factory, producing underground oceans of the stuff, seemingly inexhaustible oil wells in Saudi Arabia, hydrocarbon rain under the Gulf of Mexico, ocean floors littered with vast tracts of methane hydrates, vast oil-shale deposits, oils sands, tar sands, coal seams, oil wells that spontaneously refill after being squeezed “dry,” and natural gas that “percolates up” from below the dune regions surrounding the Caspian:

    Abiotic theory is fitting, predictive, universal, parsimonious, requires no special pleadings, and is more than likely correct.
    _ _ _ _ _ _

    W Abbott: What about chemo-synthesizing archaea? … Could they be the source of all this really deep gas and oil?

    The deepest known life consumes methane, it does not produce it:

    Life discovered in deepest layer of Earth’s crust
    November 19, 2010

    … One key difference was that archaea were absent in the gabbroic layer. Also, genetic analysis revealed that unlike their upstairs neighbours, many of the gabbroic bugs had evolved to feed off hydrocarbons like methane and benzene.
    This could mean that the bacteria migrated down from shallower regions rather than evolving inside the crust.
    “This deep biosphere is a very important discovery,” said Rolf Pedersen of the University of Bergen, Norway.
    He added that the reactions that produce oil and gas abiotically inside the crust could occur in the mantle, meaning life may be thriving deeper yet.

    http://www.discoveryon.info/2010/11/deepest-layer-of-earths-crust-life.html

    _ _ _ _ _

    James F. Evans – good stuff! Thanks for the links.

  88. Good for you James, go make a million or 20. Good luck.
    I am happy doing what I do with what I know, as are my clients, and it seems Doug is as well.

    You are parroting other people’s ideas, I can see by your sentences and the words you use that you don’t really know what you are talking about. Plate tectonic theory easily explains how reservoir rocks occur and oil is found in subsalt formations off the continental margin of Brazil or in the Gulf of Mexico.
    Maybe it’s impolite to say that, but innocent people reading these comments need to be reminded that the ideas you are promoting are not generally accepted in the oil industry. Possibly in 20 years, but there is a lot of momentum for you to overcome.

    That is a similar problem to the one that anyone who is skeptical of mainstream climate science faces, but I think that future developments will tend to debunk both CAGW and abiotic oil.

  89. RockyRoad;
    About those windmills: I perdiks a booming scrap recycling industry. Lotsa good Rare Earth Elements in them thar ‘mills!

  90. Regarding Flask’s statement: “You are parroting other people’s ideas, I can see by your sentences and the words you use that you don’t really know what you are talking about.”

    Of course, I’m reporting other people’s ideas. We all stand on the shoulders of others ideas, including Doug and Flask, I might add. And I have studied Abiotic Oil Theory and understand those ideas, as well as the ideas behind “fossil” theory. What’s important is that Abiotic Oil Theory fits the geological facts & evidence better than the so-called “fossil” theory. It’s too bad that Doug and Flask aren’t more open-minded about those ideas.

    It needs to be noted that neither Doug nor Flask responded to the facts & evidence that contradicts the so-called “oil window”, which is the foundation of the “fossil” theory.

    Flask stated: “Plate tectonic theory easily explains how reservoir rocks occur and oil is found in subsalt formations off the continental margin of Brazil or in the Gulf of Mexico.”

    No it doesn’t and here’s why: I take it that by implication Flask is suggesting that organic detritus rich crust, one tectonic plate, has “subducted” or has dived under other crust, an ajoining tectonic plate, thus, taking this supposed organic detritus rich crust to ultra-deep levels in the stratographic column, and, thus, explaining the ultra-deep oil found off the coast of Brazil and the Gulf of Mexico.

    The problem with this explaination is that mainstream geologists generally agree no “subduction” has occured in either of these locations, rather, it’s called a transform boundary, where no “subduction” is alleged to occur.

    And, not even the geologists who are involved with finding the Brazilian off-shore oil are alleging that it’s the result of “subduction”. Rather, these geologists claim that a series of pre-historic lakes existed millions of years ago:

    “According to Guilherme Estrella [a geologist], 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.”

    http://www.offshore-mag.com/index/article-display/348706/articles/offshore/volume-68/issue-12/top-five-projects/jubarte-field-opens-petrobrasrsquo-pre-salt-production.html

    So, perhaps, it is Flask who doesn’t “really know what you are talking about”.

    Guilherme Estrella’s claim is silly when one considers that some of the Brazilian oil is located over 200 miles off-shore and much of it is located over 150 miles off-shore and much of it is over 15,000 feet below the seafloor and in water over 7,000 feet deep.

    What is true is that in the areas where the oil is found there are a system of faults, rifts, and parallel lineaments just as Stanley B. Keith and his associates have suggested. The oil, or perhaps more specifically hydrocarbon rich ‘brine’, emanates from those faults, rifts, and parallel lineaments and rises up into the trapping geologic structures above them.

    Doug disparaged Keith’s ideas as coming from “some mining geologist trying to get funding from mainstream oil companies”, but it would seem the petroleum industry is not disparaging his ideas, on the contary, it is following those ideas.

    So, again, let’s see what the petroleum industry is saying about these faults, rifts, and cracks:

    First, here is Keith’s Cracks of the World: Global Strike-Slip Fault Systems and Giant Resource Accumulations:

    “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/

    And then compare & contrast the Keith’s paper with an article from Offshore magazine, Imaging challenges in deepwater US/Mexico border zone:

    “[Petroleum geologists want] a better understanding of the tectonic framework of the basement.”

    “Mapping the structure of the rifted basement, its impact on sedimentation, the distribution of autochthonous salt, and the location of the continental-oceanic boundary (COB) all were crucial within the workflow…”

    “The work confirmed that basement structure is dominated by NW-SE and NE-SW trending lineaments/faults.”

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

    What are “trending lineaments”?

    Could they be Keith’s “interconnecting, generally latitude-parallel faults”?

    Could these “trending lineaments” be larger patterns of faulting “blocks” and grabens where the oil emanates from by way of vertical conduits, which is then trapped in covering geologic structures?

    Here is a caption from the Offshore article below an image of a fault pattern: “Example of new basement geometry and structure in portion of Keathley Canyon. This shows a NE-SW trending horst and graben geometry.”

    I’ll grant you that nowhere in the article does it claim or suggest that oil is abiotic or that the oil emanates from the faults and lineaments that are mapped.

    But it does demonstrate that the petroleum industry knows the importance of mapping these faults, lineaments, and “rifted basement”, just as Keith suggests.

    Here is a PDF version of Keith’s Houston Geological Society paper upon which his presentation was based, which has illustrations of the Strike-Slip Fault Systems discussed in the paper to give the reader a better idea of what Keith is talking about:

    http://www.janrasmussen.com/pdfs/Cracks_World.pdf

  91. I have little faith in the abiotic oil theory, but don’t reject it out of hand. When a geologist claims that Ghawar is hydrothermal dolomite he loses credibility in my eyes. However that is not the issue. The issue is “stocks and flows”. even if you find another Ghawar more than 1 mile below sea surface and 3 miles into the crust, it will never flow at anything like the rate of Ghawar. It might slow production decline sometime in the future, but it will not prevent production decline. Then there is also the issue of Kiethly Canyon, which was claimed to be a “huge” (whatever that means) find a couple of years ago, and then was described as a wide extent of small pockets of oil. Huge it may be, but again flows will be severely limited.
    PS – I guess I was wrong about giant finds since 2003. Evidently there were 2 in 2009. However both were more than 1 mile below sea surface and 3 miles into the crust, so the same flow problem.

  92. Mr. Evans, I have another question for you. To the best of my knowledge, all known petroleum deposits are in sedimentary rock. It could be possible that the organisms found in oil were in the rock and diffused into the oil after the abiotic penetration, I guess. But – how did the sedimentary rock get there?

  93. James F. Evans says:
    “Flask stated: “Plate tectonic theory easily explains how reservoir rocks occur and oil is found in subsalt formations off the continental margin of Brazil or in the Gulf of Mexico.”
    No it doesn’t and here’s why: I take it that by implication Flask is suggesting that organic detritus rich crust, one tectonic plate, has “subducted” or has dived under other crust, an ajoining tectonic plate, thus, taking this supposed organic detritus rich crust to ultra-deep levels in the stratographic column, and, thus, explaining the ultra-deep oil found off the coast of Brazil and the Gulf of Mexico.
    The problem with this explaination is that mainstream geologists generally agree no “subduction” has occured in either of these locations, rather, it’s called a transform boundary, where no “subduction” is alleged to occur.”

    Mr Evans,
    This proves that you really don’t know much about plate tectonics, I did not say there was subduction off the coast of Brazil, possibly you assumed this because of Keith’s mention of subduction as the source of the lighter elements that he suggests is the source of his oil “dived under other crust, an ajoining (sic) tectonic plate, thus, taking this supposed organic detritus rich crust to ultra-deep levels in the stratographic (sic) column”. I should have taken Doug’s point about not getting into another abiotic oil argument more seriously. However…

    All I can say is that Brazil’s Atlantic margin is a divergent plate boundary, there are transform plate margins in the Atlantic Basin, and some of the oil pools may be associated with these, but they are secondary compared with the process of plate divergence, which explains how the lake deposits described by Estrella and salt accumulations came to be where they are. Consider the Rift Valley of East Africa, where briny lakes are common, where are deposited thick accumulations of organic rich, fine-grained sediments and salt deposits that are similar to sedimentary rocks forming source rocks, reservoir rocks and traps found in the passive or divergent margins on the continental slopes around the world. The Rift Valley is a model for the early phase of the separation of continents.

    Funny that you also quote Estrella who says the lacustrine deposits are the source of the oil.

    Our little exchange illustrates something I meant to say in my first post on this topic; that curious people from well-meaning supporters to cranks and trolls can waste time of everyone in any discussion. This topic was about the success of shale gas production and it’s implications, which can really only be a good thing for the USA and the world’s economy. The WUWT blog site is concerned mostly with the question of climate but deals with other science topics, and the association of fossil fuels (yes, definitely fossil) with climate change is the point of the whole CAGW movement.
    I can see how climate scientists might get frustrated with some of the discussion, and I think skeptical questions have to be backed with serious science by knowledgeable people. I try to restrict my comments to things I know something about, which is mostly geology and general knowledge, plus a bit of what I hope is common sense.

    You are welcome to believe whatever you believe, but finding large amounts of abiotic oil is very unlikely, and I would not invest in it nor recommend investing in any abiotic oil scheme to any of my clients, nor anyone who reads this comment, including you.

    Flask

  94. I want to thank everyone for “wasting their time on this thread.” Abiotic rants and raves, plays for love or money, etc. We drill deep and we find more. But it more complicated than that and everybody’s insights are really helpful. I think all of us left standing agree: we aren’t running out of gas or oil. We’ll just keep scratching away at the mystery of where it all came from, or comes from. You know you’re making progress when the list of what you don’t know is getting longer. Thanks again.

  95. Murray Duffin says:
    “Mr. Evans, I have another question for you. To the best of my knowledge, all known petr:oleum deposits are in sedimentary rock. ”

    Murray, there are many many fields reservoired in something other than sedimentary rock: Bach Ho in Viet Nam is one of the most famous.

    They are all easy to tie back to a biotic source. I the case of Bach Ho, I have a very nice Russian seismic line showing the fracturedgranitic reservoir to be surrounded by thermally mature tertiary laccustrian organic shales. (or perhaps for this crowd, organic rich shales, shales with a TOC of 3-7 %)

  96. Interesting article from the American Thinker about ethanol.

    And re: abiotic fossil fuels, there’s this. Not many dinosaur fossils there.

    Here’s Prof Freeman Dyson’s take:

    Later in his life, Tommy Gold promoted another heretical idea, that the oil and natural gas in the ground come up from deep in the mantle of the earth and have nothing to do with biology. Again the experts are sure that he is wrong, and he did not live long enough to change their minds. Just a few weeks before he died, some chemists at the Carnegie Institution in Washington did a beautiful experiment in a diamond anvil cell, [Scott et al., 2004]. They mixed together tiny quantities of three things that we know exist in the mantle of the earth, and observed them at the pressure and temperature appropriate to the mantle about two hundred kilometers down. The three things were calcium carbonate which is sedimentary rock, iron oxide which is a component of igneous rock, and water. These three things are certainly present when a slab of subducted ocean floor descends from a deep ocean trench into the mantle. The experiment showed that they react quickly to produce lots of methane, which is natural gas. Knowing the result of the experiment, we can be sure that big quantities of natural gas exist in the mantle two hundred kilometers down. We do not know how much of this natural gas pushes its way up through cracks and channels in the overlying rock to form the shallow reservoirs of natural gas that we are now burning. If the gas moves up rapidly enough, it will arrive intact in the cooler regions where the reservoirs are found. If it moves too slowly through the hot region, the methane may be reconverted to carbonate rock and water. The Carnegie Institute experiment shows that there is at least a possibility that Tommy Gold was right and the natural gas reservoirs are fed from deep below. The chemists sent an E-mail to Tommy Gold to tell him their result, and got back a message that he had died three days earlier. Now that he is dead, we need more heretics to take his place.
    [source]

    Just sayin’…

  97. Thanks, W Abbott, of course many views of the situation will find more solutions. The USA is the most intensely explored country because of it’s capitalist foundation, where anyone can form an oil company, and wildcat wells have been drilled by people driven by dreams, dowsing and doodlebugging. Other countries are less well explored, but they are still finding oil and lots of gas in the good old USA.

    Smokey, no dispute that methane and longer chain hydrocarbons exist in other parts of the solar system, they no doubt existed on Earth as well, before free oxygen was put into our atmosphere by biological activity. Now, probably most terrestrial methane has been recycled a few times at least, and is the byproduct of organic activity, even any methane that might be formed in the mantle by the process Gold described would be sourced from organic rich sediments.
    Dyson’s comment that we do not know how much of this methane makes it’s way to form part of the shallow gas pools is correct – we do not know. I can tell you this, however, that the volatiles formed in the subduction zones do come up again forming volcanoes. Volcanoes exhale large quantities of CO2 and H2O, most of their explosive power comes from the expansion of these superheated gases as pressure is relieved as they approach the surface. CO2 and H2O are the products of the oxidation of CH4, methane. If methane is formed in the mantle, most of it will go directly to the volcanic vents which produce CO2 and water, not so much methane. Drilling near dormant or extinct volcanoes for geothermal power encounters hot water and superheated water and steam, but I haven’t heard reports of any big gas finds comparable to the amounts found in gas shales. Methane contained in shale and conventional gas reservoirs in more stable areas away from volcanic belts can be attributed to biogenic sources (gas shales are at once the source and the reservoir) because methane is a ubiquitous product of metabolism, from bacteria to cows, and the further you get from the subduction zone, the less likely it is to be the source of the methane. Occam’s razor tells us to consider the most likely explanation first.

    As Dyson says, heretics are necessary for the advance of science, and we have a rich history of famous heretics. Some are famous for being right, some for being wrong.
    Plate tectonics theory, where Wegener proposed the concept of continental drift, but was derided for it, was finally accepted in the sixties, though Meyerhoff was a die-hard opponent. Gold and Keith are still out in the wilderness, because most oil and gas deposits can be more easily attributed to organic sources than abiotic or mantle sources, and, as I mentioned above, the earth’s original endowment of methane and other hydrocarbons has been oxidized and recycled by biological activity.

    Scientific debate is necessary so that all conceivable aspects of a problem are considered. The strident calls of “the science is settled” by the CAGW proponents gets my blood boiling. Some day, I hope James Hansen is remembered as one of those who was spectacularly wrong.

  98. @Murray Duffin, January 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Also it is likely that producers are underestimating, or downplaying the water pollution risk from frakking. Yes the gas is well below the water table, but there is evidence that water migrates upwards through faults in the rock to contaminate ground water, and there have also been cases of gas percolating up to produce flammable surface water, with molecular analysis proving that the gas came from the deep formations. A couple of counties in Pa. have already outlawed frakking. Don’t get too excited y’all.

    There is no scientific evidence that shows the drilling is causing the methane in the drinking water,

    Statement of Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation Refuting Reports of Contamination of Carter Road Water by Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid (Cabot Oil and Gas)

    Report of Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation’s Utilization of Effective Techniques for Protecting Fresh Water Zones/Horizons During Natural (PDF) (Robert W. Watson, Ph.D., Associate Professor Emeritus of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering and Environmental Systems Engineering, Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, Chairman of the Technical Advisory Board, Oil and Gas Management, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection)

    “A study was conducted of several natural gas wells in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania that were installed and operated by Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (Cabot). The investigation included a comprehensive analysis of the structural and mechanical integrity of the natural gas wells with a focus on whether appropriate techniques were utilized to protect fresh water zones. The study concludes that Cabot used and is using procedures for drilling, casing and cementing wells that (i) meet or exceed the requirements of the Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Act, (ii) are adequate to protect Pennsylvania’s drinking water, (iii) are not causing or allowing methane migration into Pennsylvania’s drinking water.

    Cabot and Clean Water in Dimock, PA (Video)

    Methane is very common in wells in PA,

    Methane Gas and Its Removal from Wells in Pennsylvania (PDF) (School of Forest Resources, College of Agricultural Sciences, Pennsylvania State University)

  99. Mooloo says:
    January 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Mooloo, you are correct for the most part. However, OPEC has not shown a lot of business sense (with the exception of SA – but that was more political than business) in the past. Indeed, OPEC now controls only about 40% of the oil, so theoretically, they should not be able to control prices. Yet the non-members (like Russia) are more than willing to go along as it usually means fatter profits for all.

    Still, if they cannot, or if they are not willing to – control the price of oil to keep competitors out, then they will suffer the same fate as all buggy whip makers in the past. Relliance on past successes to drive future business decisions usually results in companies (in this case countries) losing the market to innovators.

  100. It should be noted that even after repeatedly providing facts & evidence contradicting the so-called “oil window” theory which is the foundation for the whole “fossil” theory ediface, neither Doug or Flask has responded. That should tell readers something when proponents won’t respond to facts & evidence that falsifies their hypothesis. We see that all the time with the warmists.

    Of course, these geologists also can’t tell you an experiment that could falsify the “fossil” theory. Neither do geologists understand specifically how oil would be formed by “fossil” theory, all they have is vague generalities. No physically constrained formation process has been demonstrated in a laboratory — it’s all assumptions.

    “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)

    That statement is still true today.

    For Doug or Flask, or any body else: What experiment could falsify the “fossil” theory? Remember, for a theory to be scientifically valid there must be an experiment or observation that could potentionally falsify the theory.

    That’s why AGW isn’t a scientific theory (can’t be falsified) and nether can the “fossil” theory — both are in the same boat (that’s why geologists are so defensive about it).

    Murray Duffin wrote: “I have little faith in the abiotic oil theory, but don’t reject it out of hand. When a geologist claims that Ghawar is hydrothermal dolomite he loses credibility in my eyes.”

    First, it needs to be pointed out the Murry Duffin is an advocate for so-called “peak” oil, so, of course, his mind-set is to object to anything that contradicts “peak” oil — Abiotic Oil Theory most definitely contradicts “peak” oil.

    Duffin: “When a geologist claims that Ghawar is hydrothermal dolomite he loses credibility in my eyes.”

    Why?

    I reviewed the PDF you provided on Ghawar and it’s entirely consistent with a hydrothermal dolomite abiotic theory. In fact, Keith cites a paper on the dolomite structure of Ghawar, in his “Cracks of the World” paper, which is almost identical with (with most of the same scientists) the PDF paper on Ghawar you linked.

    Murray Duffin, it doesn’t help your case when you cite papers, claiming one thing, which upon close inspection, it turns out, the paper doesn’t stand for the proposition claimed.

    But Murray Duffin’s issue is “stocks and flows”.

    Well, the best analogy to world oil production & consumption is that there are many different straws in a drink. It is the multiplicity of “straws” or supply chains that help ensure enough oil is available for world consumption. And as my original comment on this thread pointed out, the oil & gas industry is running into hydrocarbons, oil & gas, all the time (in fact, shale natural gas is an example of “running” into a huge new supply of energy — and that happens with petroleum, too: Today’s proven reserves of oil are at the highest levels (record levels) they have EVER been at.

    So-called “peak” oil? Not going to happen any time soon — as I type at my keyboard, OPEC has roughly 6 million barrels ( if not several million more) spare capacity that they are holding off the world market.

    That’s why Abiotic Oil Theory is important: If true, then there is not going to be a world-wide energy shortage (anytime soon)…unless it is induced by artificial means (read, man-made created shortage).

    Flask originally wrote: “Plate tectonic theory easily explains how reservoir rocks occur and oil is found in subsalt formations off the continental margin of Brazil or in the Gulf of Mexico.”

    I misunderstood Flask’s statement because it was vague and the meaning was not clear. On the other hand, that does not mean I don’t understand transform boundaries.

    After all, I was the first, in this thread, to correctly identify that both off the Brazil coast and Gulf of Mexico were transform boundaries.

    Evans, January 23, 2011 at 8:41 am, wrote: “The problem with this explaination is that mainstream geologists generally agree no ‘subduction’ has occured in either of these locations, rather, it’s called a transform boundary, where no ‘subduction’ is alleged to occur.

    Now, Flask, I understand you subscribe to the “ancient lake” hypothesis, cited by Guilherme Estrella. And as I pointed out in my prior comment, this “ancient lake” hypothesis is silly — it doesn’t hold up to the most casual scrutiny.

    According to Estrella, these “ancient lakes” were supposedly in existence about 120 million years ago. But at that time sea-levels were much higher than they are today. So, there was no physical opportunity for “ancient lakes” to form at thousands of feet below today’s present sea-level, as the “ancient lake” theory would require.

    How does Science know this?

    “The Western Interior Seaway, also called the Cretaceous Seaway, the Niobraran Sea, and the North American Inland Sea, was a huge inland sea that split the continent of North America into two halves, Laramidia and Appalachia, during most of the mid- and late-Cretaceous Period.”

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

    Cretaceous period was from approximately 65 million years ago to 145 million years ago.

    The earliest phase of the Seaway began in the mid-Cretaceous (right at the time, 120 million years ago, Estrella claimed for the existence of these supposed ancient lakes).

    Now, this North American Interior Seaway was approximately 800 to 900 meters deep, at it’s largest extent. That means sea-levels world-wide, at the time, in the mid-Cretaceous, were at least 2000 feet higher than today!

    So, the idea that ancient lake beds were in existence several miles deeper than the present ocean levels (when all the evidence points to much higher sea-levels) is quite ridiculous.

    Flask wrote: “Funny that you also quote Estrella who says the lacustrine deposits are the source of the oil.”

    Not at all, since that’s the claim of some in the oil industry, as ludicrous as that claim is when one closely examines the facts & evidence about the geo-physical conditions existent at that time.

    Like I stated early on in this topic thread, the facts & evidence for Abiotic Oil Theory is overwhelming. It’s clear Doug and Flask have a stake in the “fossil” theory, they seem impervious to facts & evidence which contradict their beliefs. It’s not hard to pick up on their mind-set, after reading a few of their comments. No surprise.

    There is little or no interest in examining evidence, rather, it’s a “move along, nothing to see, here” dismissive attitude.

    “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” — Arthur Schopenhauer

    So, for those with an open-mind and curiousity, so as to be interested in investigating the facts & evidence in support of Abiotic Oil Theory, here is a link to a full discussion with links to scientific reports and news articles:

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

    As we’ve seen with the AGW debate, there are some people who just aren’t interested in facts & evidence, particularly, if those same facts & evidence contradict their closely held beliefs or agendas.

  101. James F Evans says:
    “Now, Flask, I understand you subscribe to the “ancient lake” hypothesis, cited by Guilherme Estrella. And as I pointed out in my prior comment, this “ancient lake” hypothesis is silly — it doesn’t hold up to the most casual scrutiny.

    According to Estrella, these “ancient lakes” were supposedly in existence about 120 million years ago. But at that time sea-levels were much higher than they are today. So, there was no physical opportunity for “ancient lakes” to form at thousands of feet below today’s present sea-level, as the “ancient lake” theory would require.

    How does Science know this?

    “The Western Interior Seaway, also called the Cretaceous Seaway, the Niobraran Sea, and the North American Inland Sea, was a huge inland sea that split the continent of North America into two halves, Laramidia and Appalachia, during most of the mid- and late-Cretaceous Period.”… … Now, this North American Interior Seaway was approximately 800 to 900 meters deep, at it’s largest extent. That means sea-levels world-wide, at the time, in the mid-Cretaceous, were at least 2000 feet higher than today!”

    I have to hand it to you, Mr Evans, your casual scrutiny and logic take the day… I see I can’t argue with you, I’ve had enough.

  102. Flask, it’s not about argument. It’s about facts & evidence, physical observations & measurement, which contradict the orgainic detritus “fossil” theory and support the Abiotic Oil Theory.

    Such as those facts & evidence which contradict the so-called “oil window” corollary to the “fossil” theory.

    And, the failure of the proponents of “fossil” theory to be able to explain all the facts & evidence, physical observations & measurements, which do contradict “fossil” theory, and on the other hand, support Abiotic Oil Theory.

    That’s where the ‘rubber meets the road’ in scientific discouse.

  103. “It should be noted that even after repeatedly providing facts & evidence contradicting the so-called “oil window” theory which is the foundation for the whole “fossil” theory ediface, neither Doug or Flask has responded”

    It should be note that we went through this once before, and our results were about as effective as talking to a wall. When I mentioned a vitrinite reflectance of R0> 0.7, a very basic term in petroleum geochemistry, the poster had no idea what we were talking about. I recommended some basic textbooks in geochemistry and gave up. Heck, there is not even an “oil widow theory”, it is a descriptive term of time and temperature conditions.

    I haven’t redone our discussion because it was so unproductive, and you do not possess the basic skills to have a better one.

    Flame on, but that is the case.

  104. Doug wrote: “When I mentioned a vitrinite reflectance of R0> 0.7, a very basic term in petroleum geochemistry, the poster had no idea what we were talking about.”

    Interesting, claim a question has been asked before, in some long ago discussion thread. I doubt that question was asked before, I’ll go ahead and answer it, now:

    Vitrinite reflectance is a measure of thermal exposure of hydrocarbons. In the oil business it can be an indication of “maturity”. A vitrinite reflectance of R0> 0.7 suggests, according to petroleum geologists, that breakdown of heavy hydrocarbons H330C215 into lighter hydrocarons has commenced. The breakdown of heavy hydrocarbons, sometimes called ‘kerogens’, into lighter hydrocarbons (oil & gas) correlates with a reflectance of 0.5-0.6% and the termination of oil generation with reflectance of 0.85-1.1%.

    Nice try, attempting to get folks to “move along, nothing to see here.”

    Don’t consider evidence which supports the occurence of natural chemical reactions happening among common minerals within the Earth’s crust. Molecular combinations between various minerals is well known, as are chemical reactions between minerals in high temperature & pressure conditions within the Earth’s crust.

    Doug wrote: “Heck, there is not even an ‘oil widow theory’, it is a descriptive term of time and temperature conditions.”

    The ‘oil window’ is descriptive of the timing and temperature conditions, suppossedly existing within a “window” of depth and temperature, roughly between 7,500 feet and 15,000 feet, and no higher than 275 degrees Fahrenheit, according to geologists, under which oil is thought to form from organic detritus.

    Hmmm, sure sounds like a hypothesis or “theory” to me.

    Time and temperature conditions which geologists hypothesize are required for organic detritus to turn into oil. Of course, nobody has ever observed this process actually happen, it’s purely a theoretical assumption. And now numerous deposits of oil have been found in physical conditions way outside the “window’s” supposedly required conditions.

    That’s called a failed hypothesis.

    Funny that Doug denied it’s a hypothesis — I guess he knows it’s been falsified.

  105. Good, you are learning. Now go do a book report on “Gas Window”, and “thermal destruction of hydrocarbons” You can leave out Mt Everest analogies.

    Then reread your post and look at your bait and switch.
    ————– “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.”

    ———Research & development for oil deposits as high in temperature as 700 degrees Fahrenheit, and twice the pressures currently encountered, it strongly suggests the oil majors think there is oil much deeper than is even presently being located at, likely deeper than 30,000 feet below the bottom of the seabed (Mount Everest is 29,000 ft above sea level).————————

    Then find me a major oil company who will buy your 700 degree F drilling proposal. Tell them it is in hydrothermal dolomites, just like the Jurassic Arab-D zone of Ghawar.

  106. Doug, the discussion has focussed on ultra-deep oil deposits, how the depth and temperature (often over 20,000 feet and over 400 degrees Fahrenheit) contradicts the so-called “oil window” corollary to the “fossil” theory. Apparently, you now admit it’s a theory of how petroleum is formed, but still you have no meaningful response.

    Doug wants to discuss a supposed “Gas Window”, and “thermal destruction of hydrocarbons”. Interesting, since it is the finding of oil in conditions where “thermal destruction of hydrocarbons” should happen, according to geologists who subscribe to the organic detritus hypothesis, but where oil has been repeatedly found in such stratigraphic environments (ultra-deep and hot).

    Getting back to ultra-deep oil, another piece of evidence of its inorganic origin, a process of natural chemical reactions, independent of any organic detritus. Petroleum has trace rare Earth minerals that are scarce in surface sedimentary rock formations, but these chemical elements are known to be present in the deep crust and mantle:

    “New data have been obtained from 59 rare, rare-earth and other elements in crude oil from the West Siberian and the giant Romashkino deposit of the Tatarstan Republic. ICP-MS analyses made with high resolution mass-spectrometer ELEMENT 2. 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. For the West-Siberian oils marked a PGE (platinoid) presence in substantial quantities, especially of palladium… 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.”

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

    Indeed, those claiming oil is derived from surface organic detritus depositions have to explain how a whole series of chemical elements are present in oil, which are consistent with deep crust and mantel origin.

    Doug wrote: “Tell them it is in hydrothermal dolomites, just like the Jurassic Arab-D zone of Ghawar.”

    Yes, Ghawar is consistent with an inorganic source of petroleum.

    As described formally, Ghawar is situated over an active fault system (see link below quote):

    “Ghawar is a large north-trending anticlinal structure, some 250 kilometers long and 30 kilometers wide. It is a drape fold over a basement horst, which grew initially during the Carboniferous Hercynian deformation and was reactivated episodically, particularly during the Late Cretaceous. In detail, the deep structure consists of several en echelon horst blocks that probably formed in response to right-lateral transpression. The bounding faults have throws exceeding 3000 feet at the Silurian level but terminate within the Triassic section.”

    http://www.searchanddiscovery.net/documents/2004/afifi01/index.htm

    What is interesting about the above passage is that Ghawar is described as “over a basement horst…and was reactivated episodically…[and] the deep structure consists of several en echelon horst blocks…”

    Echoes of Keith’s “Cracks of the World” paper and presentation to the Houston Geological Society.

    By the way, Doug, are you in agreement with Flask, who calls for imposition of carbon taxes?

    Flask, January 22, 2011 at 8:11 am, wrote: “possibly including semi-voluntary reduction in use through carbon taxes…”

    So, apparently Flask is a carbon tax flunky (a good little oil company boy), is that where you stand, too, Doug?

    Anyway, for those with an open-mind and curiousity, so as to be interested in investigating the facts & evidence in support of Abiotic Oil Theory, here is a link to a full discussion with links to scientific reports and news articles:

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

    People can make up their own minds.

  107. Flask
    Methane contained in shale and conventional gas reservoirs in more stable areas away from volcanic belts can be attributed to biogenic sources (gas shales are at once the source and the reservoir) because methane is a ubiquitous product of metabolism, from bacteria to cows…
    =======

    Aerobic metabolism of carbohydrates by prokaryotes and eukaryotes typically produces only carbon dioxide and water, while chemosynthetic autotrophic bacteria and archaea consume methane and other hydrocarbons to make carbohydrates.

    Consider the deepest lake in the Rift Valley of East Africa:
    Methane is oxidized in lakes by a group of bacteria that convert methane and oxygen to cellular material and carbon dioxide
    Methane oxidation in Lake Tanganyika

    Methane and other hydrocarbons are also consumed in the oceans and the mantle by similar microbes. You can see several chemosynthetic ecosystems flourishing on mineral petroleum in this clip from NOAA:

    Consumption of C1-C6 hydrocarbons is almost ubiquitous near hydrothermal vents, cold seeps, and at the deepest layers of the Earth’s crust.

    Chemosynthesis was ubiquitous to autotrophs for around a billion years before photosynthesis liberated any oxygen.
    Methane is not a ubiquitous product of metabolism.
    Tar pits are not the ubiquitous product of the fossils they preserve.

  108. Cows do not produce methane. I do not produce methane. Termites do not produce methane. But the bacteria, protozoa, microbes, archaea, whatever I’m supposed to call them, (the single-celled organisms that live in our “guts”) do produce methane; “ubiquitous” is not a bad word to describe their presence in the biosphere. You’re spinning the observation of the comparatively rare methane consuming organisms into the norm. But its not. Truth be told my wife thinks its pretty scary when I eat beans. The volume of gas “recovered” makes you believe anything might be possible.

  109. W Abbot – “You’re spinning the observation of the comparatively rare methane consuming organisms into the norm.

    You’re beating up a strawman. I merely pointed to places where we know methanotrophs are abundant, where they monopolize primary production in an ecosystem, or where they are found to be almost ubiquitous. Some of those places are often cited as examples of where petroleum should be forming from fossils, and yet we see, when we look, life forming from petroleum instead.
    We also see, when we look, fossils preserved in oil shale, not converted to petrol:

    ====

    re: Flask’s claim that abiotic hydrocarbons are abundant on Titan today because there is no oxygen–not true:

    http://www.space.com/8859-saturn-moon-blows-oxygen.html

  110. “re: Flask’s claim that abiotic hydrocarbons are abundant on Titan today because there is no oxygen–not true:”

    Where are you coming from, Khwarizmi?
    L. O. L.

    That is an interesting report, it says that the nearby moon Enceladus is the source of the oxygen that reaches Titan (the oxygen is protected from combining chemically with hydrocarbons present on Titan because they attach to naturally occurring fullerines). It seems that neither you nor James F. Evans reads very well, or if you read correctly, you have no compunction about distorting what others have written.
    This is what I wrote:
    “methane and longer chain hydrocarbons exist in other parts of the solar system, they no doubt existed on Earth as well, before free oxygen was put into our atmosphere by biological activity.”
    I was talking about Earth, not Titan, but the presence of free oxygen on Titan is obviously quite an amazing special case.

    So anyway, getting back to conventional oil exploration, one of the prerequisites of finding oil is identifying a source rock that has been buried deeply enough that the temperature and pressure regime is high enough that oil will be produced. If oil has been found at higher temperatures than what was hitherto been considered the “oil window”, that’s a bonus in my opinion, not a refutation of the concept. Geochemists can correlate oil with the remnant hydrocarbons in a source rock.
    Gas and oil are lighter than water so they tend to move upwards buoyantly through porous formations until they reach a trap (there are many types of trap, in this case, imagine an overlying impermeable rock that has been folded in 2 directions to make a dome), then they accumulate there. Sometimes, oil and gas have been found in a structure in a thick sedimentary basin where good traps occur in deeper, older strata that would contain oil or gas, except there is no migration pathway for hydrocarbons to get to them from the source rock (it is too far above and there are impermeable layers between the deeper reservoir rock and the source rock). Using the abiotic theory, where gas and oil are derived from much deeper, the deepest traps should all have hydrocarbons, less so the ones above.

  111. Flask — “I was talking about Earth, not Titan”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    You were responding to the sea of methane on Titan (Smokey, Jan 23), hence your vague reference to “other parts of the solar system.” If my being specific was a “distortion” of your meaning, I apologize.

    The fullerene-caged oxygen in the article is from a new model and is not, like the oxygen itself, a fact. The fullerenes, in the model, are attached to aromatic hydrocarbons–“compounds also found on Earth in oil, coal and tar deposits”:

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/whycassini/saturn20100701.html

    Oxygen is irrelevant anyway, because UV alone will degrade methane.
    UV does degrade methane on Titan, so production or accumulation must exceed the rate of destruction. But this returns us to the question begged by the abundance of methane in the first place: where does it all come from?

    = = = = = = = = = = = =
    The methane giving an orange hue to Saturn’s giant moon Titan likely comes from geologic processes in its interior according to measurements from the Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GCMS), a Goddard Space Flight Center instrument aboard the European Space Agency’s Huygens Probe.
    Goddard Space Flight Center, “Titan’s Mysterious Methane Comes From Inside, Not The Surface, 2005
    = = = = = = = = = = = =

    Anyway, thanks for the thought-provoking discussion.

  112. Khwarizmi:
    Methane is found on the outer gas planets, and many of their moons, not so vague a statement, especially as I thought I was responding to someone who paid attention to astronomy.
    Many statements in the thought-provoking link you provided are disingenuous, and this one; “Fossils preserved in oil shale, not converted to oil” is one of the most blatant, captioning a picture of shale containing bryozoan fossils in an oil shale, suggesting that someone expects that the beautiful bryozoan skeletons (primarily composed of calcium carbonate) somehow can be transformed into hydrocarbons.
    Here is my original statement:

    Now, probably most terrestrial methane has been recycled a few times at least, and is the byproduct of organic activity, even any methane that might be formed in the mantle by the process Gold described would be sourced from organic rich sediments.

    Gold’s hypothesis is the only way that calcium carbonate could eventually be transformed into hydrocarbons (methane) by combining with water in the subduction zones. This still seems to be an extra and more than required step in hydrocarbon genesis. Conventional oil exploration is still successful, proponents of abiotic oil should drill to find oil in places where only their theory would adequately explain the presence of any hydrocarbons that might be found. I would hope that they use their own money for this and do not apply for grants from any government, however, because I think it’s doomed to failure.

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