“North American energy independence by 2020″

Guest post by David Middleton

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney recently released an outline of his plan to achieve “North American energy independence” by 2020. While the white paper (1) is short on specific details, it does contain quite a few good ideas and some supporting documentation. For anyone interested in a business plan approach to energy policy, it’s well worth reading. Rather than focus on the details of the plan, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to see if “North American energy independence by 2020″ was even technically possible. If it’s not technically possible, then it’s not really relevant whether or not it would be economically advisable or politically achievable. Since North America already pretty well has the capacity to be energy independent in terms of coal, natural gas, uranium and electricity generation, I’m only going to look at oil and natural gas liquids.

So, without any further prologue, I’m going to jump right into some numbers.

Can we “get there from here”?

According to the American Petroleum Institute (2) the current estimate of undiscovered technically recoverable Federal resources (UTRR-Fed) of crude oil currently stands at 116.3 billion barrels.

Figure 1. U.S. Crude Oil and Natural Gas Undiscovered Technically Recoverable Federal Resources (American Petroleum Institute).

The UTRR-Fed are concentrated in areas close to existing exploration and exploitation infrastructure. The Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and the Lower 48 States comprise 88% of the UTRR-Fed.

Region Offshore/Onshore Billions of Barrels of Crude Oil % Cum. %
Gulf of Mexico Offshore 44.9 39% 39%
Alaska Offshore 26.6 23% 61%
Alaska Onshore 18.8 16% 78%
Lower 48 Onshore 11.7 10% 88%
Pacific Offshore 10.5 9% 97%
Atlantic Offshore 3.8 3% 100%
Total 116.3 100%

There is no reason that these potential resources could not be exploited within the next few decades if the U.S. government adopted regulatory policies geared toward exploitation.

If industry converted the UTRR-Fed into proved developed producing reserves of crude oil over the next 25 years, this is what might happen to U.S. domestic crude oil production:

Figure 2. Potential exploitation scenario for the UTRR-Fed.

I think that it is technically possible that US crude oil and natural gas liquid production could reach 14.4 million BOPD by 2028 and peak at 15.7 million BOPD by 2032. If U.S. demand remained in the 18-20 million BOPD range, the United States could come very close to being self-sufficient in crude oil. I also took the liberty of including 73 billion barrels of Green River Oil Shale production from 2022-2100 (more on this later).

Canada expects to double its oil production by 2030 (3). Assuming that Canada’s domestic consumption remains stable and the U.S. remains Canada’s primary export market, Canadian imports could also be expected to double by 2030. While Mexican oil production is currently in decline and Pemex is one of the most poorly managed national oil companies (NOC) in the world, Mexico has huge potential in the area of undiscovered resources (4). Mexico does have the potential to stabilize its current production levels. If Canada doubles its production by 2030 and continues to increase its production through the end of this century and Mexico stabilizes at roughly its current levels, this is what U.S. domestic production plus Canadian and Mexican imports might look like:

Figure 3. U.S. UTRR-Fed plus Canadian and Mexican imports.

Based on these numbers, North American energy independence could be achieved by 2027.

116 billion barrels of ”undiscovered technically recoverable oil” is equal to about 16 years worth of current US consumption. However, past history shows us that gov’t agencies always grossly underestimate what the oil industry will find and produce. Alaska’s North Slope has already produced 16 billion barrels of petroleum liquids. Currently developed areas will ultimately produce a total of about 30 billion barrels. The government’s original forecast for the North Slope’s total production was 10 billion barrels. The current USGS estimate for undiscovered oil in the Bakken play of Montana & North Dakota is 25 times larger than the same agency’s 1995 estimate. In 1987, the MMS undiscovered resource estimate for the Gulf of Mexico was 9 billion barrels. Today it is 45 billion barrels (2).

The MMS increased the estimate of undiscovered oil in the Gulf of Mexico from 9 billion barrels in 1987 to the current 45 billion barrels because we discovered a helluva a lot more than 9 billion barrels in the Gulf over the last 20 years. Almost all of the large US fields discovered since 1988 were discovered in the deepwater of the Gulf of Mexico. In 1988, it was unclear whether or not the deepwater plays would prove to be economic.The largest field in the Gulf of Mexico, Shell’s Mars Field, was discovered in 1989. Prior to this discovery, no one thought that economically viable Miocene-aged or older reservoirs existed in deepwater. Mars has produced 1 billion barrels of oil and 1.25 TCF of natural gas since coming on line in 1996. It is currently producing over 100,000 barrels of oil per day. Dozens of Mars-class fields have been discovered over the last 20 years… Most of those have only barely come on line over the last 5 years.

The most significant play in the Gulf of Mexico, the Lower Tertiary, wasn’t even a figment of anyone’s imagination in 1988. These are massive discoveries – BP’s recently discovered Tiber Field on Keathly Canyon Block 102 is estimated to contain 3-6 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Several recently discovered fields are expected to come on line at more than 100,000 bbl/day. This play is still in its infancy.

Based on the gov’t’s track record, the estimated 116 billion barrels of undiscovered oil under Federal lands is more likely to be 680 billion barrels. That’s close to 100 years worth of current US consumption – And that’s just the undiscovered oil under Federal mineral leases.

When you factor in shale oil (kerogen) plays, the numbers become staggering. The Green River formation oil shale has more than 1 trillion barrels of recoverable oil just in the Piceance Basin of Colorado.

  • There are at least 1.8 trillion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil in just the Green River formation (DOE).
  • Oil shale deposits like the Green River formation (technically a marl) are currently economic at sustained oil prices of $54/bbl, possibly as low as $35/bbl (DOE).

In my hypothetical production forecast, I projected Green River oil shale production to reach 15 million BOPD by 2096. Am I being overly optimistic in projecting more than 15 million barrels per day (BOPD) of production from oil shales by 2100? Shell estimates that they could be producing 500,000 barrels per day from the Picenance Basin with a very small footprint using an in situ recovery process (5):

Technical Viability and Commercial Readiness (pp 18-24)

Shell has tested its in-situ process at a very small scale on Shell’s private holdings in the Piceance Basin. The energy yield of the extracted liquid and gas is equal to that predicted by the standardized assay test.13 The heating energy required for this process equals about one-sixth the energy value of the extracted product. These tests have indicated that the process may be technically and economically viable.

This approach requires no subsurface mining and thus may be capable of achieving high resource recovery in the deepest and thickest portions of the U.S. oil shale resource. Most important, the Shell in-situ process can be implemented without the massive disturbance to land that would be caused by the only other method capable of high energy/resource recovery—namely, deep surface mining combined with surface retorting. The footprint of this approach is exceptionally small. When applied to the thickest oil shale deposits of the Piceance Basin, drilling in about 150 acres per year could support sustained production of a half-million barrels of oil per day and 500 billion cubic feet per year of natural gas.

[…]

Once oil shale development reaches the production growth stage, how fast and how large the industry grows will depend on the economic competitiveness of shale derived oil with other liquid fuels and on how the issues raised in Chapter Five are ultimately resolved. If long lead-time activities are started in the prior stage, the first follow-on commercial operations could begin production within four years. Counting from the start of the production growth stage and assuming that 200,000 barrels per day of increased production capacity can be added each year, total production would reach 1 million barrels per day in seven years, 2 million barrels per day in 12 years, and 3 million barrels in 17 years.

Assuming a 12-yr lead time to reach the production growth stage, it will take ~30 years to reach 3 million barrels per day. If production continued to grow at a rate of 1 million BOPD every 5 years… Oil shale production from just the Piceance Basin could reach 15 million BOPD by the end of this century.

The hydrocarbon characteristics of the the oil shales of the Green River formation in the Piceance Basin are superior to those of the Athabasca oil sands. The hydrocarbon areal density is about 13 times that of the Athabasca deposits. The Green River hydrocarbons are not technically “oil;” it’s a form of kerogen. But, for or refining purposes, it’s oil. It will be booked as oil, just like the Athabasca tar sand oil is. It’s a high-grade refinery feedstock…

“Kerogen can be converted to superior quality jet fuel, #2 diesel, and other high value by-products.”

Canada is currently producing ~ 1 million barrels of oil per day from Athabasca oil sand deposits. They expect to increase that to 2 million barrels per day over the next decade. The Green River oil shale deposits in the Piceance basin could easily outperform Athabasca within a decade and with a much smaller environmental footprint.

Athabasca oil sands are currently economically competitive with the OPEC basket. Green River formation oil shales are superior, by a wide margin, to Athabasca oil sands. The Green River oil shales would yield 100,000 bbl of 38° API sweet refinery feed per 160,000 tons of ore & overburden. Athabasca oil sands yield 100,000 bbl of 34° sweet refinery feed per 430,000 tons of ore & overburden. The unconventional oil is actually very light and very sweet; the OPEC Basket is actually heavier (32.7° API).

Athabasca is economically competitive now. Green River could be economically competitive now. The only obstacles to US energy security are environmental terrorists activists and the U.S. government.

“Peak Oil,” if it exists, won’t be reached for hundreds of years if the U.S. government would just get out of the way. About 80% of the most prospective Green River deposits are under Federal leases. The Obama administration effectively blocked exploitation of the Green River oil shale earlier this year.

Does Policy Matter?

Bad policy certainly matters. “One bipartisan policy tradition is to deny Americans the use of our own resources” (6):

Figure 4. Bad Policy Matters.

The Obama administration’s energy policy has been disastrous as it relates to oil production. While it is true that U.S. domestic oil production has been rising over the last few years, all of the growth has come from onshore plays in Texas and North Dakota:

Figure 5. Comparison of daily oil production rates: Federal Gulf of Mexico, Texas and North Dakota (EIA).

Some of the Texas (less than 1%) and North Dakota (~11%) production is from Federal leases. I downloaded the onshore Federal lease production data for Texas and North Dakota from Office of Natural Resource Revenue (ONRR) and subtracted the minuscule Federal lease production from the State and private lease production in those two States. I added that to theFederal Gulf of Mexico production (the GOM is the Big Kahuna of Federal lease oil production):

Figure 6. State and private lease production in Texas and North Dakota vs. Federal lease production in the Gulf of Mexico, North Dakota and Texas.

All of the net growth in US domestic oil production since 2009 has come from State and private leases in Texas and North Dakota.

Since President Obama took office, Federal lease oil production in the GOM, TX and ND has declined by 79 million barrels per year; while State and private lease production in TX & ND has grown by 205 million barrels per year. The decline in Gulf of Mexico has occurred during a period of high oil prices and is directly attributable to the unlawful drilling moratorium and “permitorium” imposed in the wake of the Macondo blowout and oil spill. Drilling permits that once took 30 days to be approved now take more than 300 days. Even relatively simple things like the approval of development plan (DOCD) revisions are being drawn out to nearly 300 days. The average delays for independent oil companies are currently 1.4 years on the shelf and almost 2 years in deepwater (7):

Figure 7. Average Gulf of Mexico permit delays (Quest Offsore Resources).

Between the “permitorium” and high product prices, many of the best, most capable drilling rigs have been moved overseas. Once we manage to get permits approved, the delays in obtaining a rig can be almost as long as the permit delays were. In this “dynamic regulatory environment,” wells can’t be drilled quickly enough to compensate for decline rates, much less to increase production.

References:

(1) Romney for President, Inc. 2012. “The Romney Plan for a Stronger Middle Class: Energy Independence.”

(2) American Petroleum Institute. 2012. “Energizing America: Facts for Addressing Energy Policy.”

(3) CBC News. 2012. Canadian oil production to double by 2030, industry predicts.

(4) Talwani, Manik. 2011. “Oil and Gas in Mexico: Geology, Production Rates and Reserves.” James Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

(5) Bartis, James T. 2005. “Oil shale development in the United States : prospects and policy issues.” RAND Corporation.

(6) Ford, Harold. 2011. “Washington vs. Energy Security.The Wall Street Journal.

(7) Quest Offshore. 2o11. “The State of the Offshore U.S. Oil and Gas Industry.”

EIA. US Crude Oil & Petroleum Liquids Consumption

EIA. US Natural Gas Plant Liquids Production

EIA. US Crude Oil and Natural Gas Condensate Production

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138 thoughts on ““North American energy independence by 2020″

  1. Fossil is a fine idea, but to be honest, we should be using thorium or a thorium/hybrid reactor. If it wasn’t for the massive environuts back 30 years ago, we’d be much further along in nuclear technologies than we are now. The article in itself though isn’t bad, one thing to remember. We could have been there today. If we started it 10 years ago, when they said “we wouldn’t be there for 10 years.”

  2. Just as I thought… a bunch of isolationists. How wrong can a plan be! Imagine, ending payments to the sources funding most of the terrorist movements worldwide? Wouldn’t it better that we reach out to them instead and show them we mean them no harm?
    /s

  3. David:

    Thankyou for an excellent summary. I write in hope of encouraging people to read it all instead of ‘skimming’. It deserves a through read by everybody.

    Richard

  4. It is not technically possible. Pease read my book, Gaia’s Limits. In addition to setting out the facts, it provides a lot of references to other sources. Mitt should know better; I am disappointed in an old classmate and colleague.

  5. Hello Dave and thanks. As a fellow geologist (mining and natural gas consulting industry) I appreciate the level of detail and scope of knowledge you provide here. If it is OK with you, I would like to cite/reference some of this material on my blog which I keep mostly for my students’ benefit but I occasionally post a link to it here.

    Thanks

    Tom

  6. yoshisen says:
    August 30, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Fossil is a fine idea, but to be honest, we should be using thorium or a thorium/hybrid reactor.

    I am also a big fan of thorium potential, but it will not replace most of the current uses of oil, which is the subject of David’s post. Oil goes into plastics, fertilizers, and a bunch of other stuff in addition to supplying the best liquid fuels for transportation. What thorium reactors would replace is coal and natural gas for electrical power, plus give us a way to dispose of waste from current uranium reactors. We have plenty of coal and natural gas, so even developing thorium reactors won’t give us a capability we can’t already meet, just the expectation of a lower cost.

    Question for David: 61% of near-term recoverable reserves are in the Gulf and offshore Alaska. What do we do about vulnerability to hurricane disruption in the Gulf? How difficult are operations and what are the disruption risks for Alaska offshore?

    Nice post. This is exactly the stuff I wish our politicians would talk about. (I know; I’m dreaming).

  7. No issue with feeding our nuke capabilities, but realistically, oil is the mobile energy platform. We could halve the price of oil and have gasoline around $2. How would that fix be. No more engineering cars into crash deathtraps on the alter of CAFE standards, limited middle east issues, we could back the allies who we have a reason politically to back with out regard for the oli sheiks.

  8. Rud, very dangerous comment – and almost universally false. It can probably be done, and it might even be easier than we think. But we do know, that if we don’t look, we will never know.

  9. Energy independence has been sought since 1973 oil shock. WUWT is the website for good weather info. http://www.peakoil.net is the website for good info on oil supplies . You might be interested in their viewpoint. Their main point is that while we have good reserves in the ground, the rate at which they can be extracted is insufficient to meet future demand

  10. David, there’s one not-so-small flaw in your presentation. By rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline approval, the Obama administration has demonstrated it is not a reliable trade partner in energy, at least where Canada is concerned. TransCanada Pipelines has incurred significant losses over this decision by the current administration.

    As a result, the Canadian federal government has declared that completion of the Northern Gateway pipeline to be a national policy priority. This pipeline when completed will move Alberta oilsands production to the Pacific coast for export to Asia. This will have two noticeable effects. First, Canadian oil is sold to the United States at a discount because it is locked in geographically. Completion of Northern Gateway will mean that the US will now have to pay world prices for Canadian oil.

    Second, it is reasonable to expect that some significant portion of Canadian oil will be going to Asia and not to the United States. It therefore may be unreasonable to suppose that all of the increase in Canadian production will go south. It must be further recognized that there has been large and growing investment by China in Canadian oilsands projects. Right now, we have a situation where a Chinese state corporation is making a takeover bid for Nexen.

    In short, while you may be correct that NA energy independence is theoretically possible, policy decisions by the Obama administration have already essentially foreclosed some of it. What is not understood in the United States is how deeply hostile the Obama administration decision was to Canada. Particularly following as it did on exclusion of Canadian companies from stimulus spending where Canadian governments placed no such exclusion on US companies from participating in Canadian stimulus spending.

    In short, many conservative Canadians such as I now question whether or not the US can be taken either at its word or in supposedly binding agreements where trade is concerned. Thanks to Obama, you brought this on yourselves.

  11. BTW, I’m not necessarily a fan of various “independence” policies: our industry is dependent on a bunch of materials we must import from abroad: bauxite (aluminum), chromium, copper to name a few. As long as there are rational markets and stable trading partners, there is nothing wrong with being dependent on imports. The US is exceptionally blessed with natural resources and we have managed to feed much of our industry with domestic production — probably more than any other nation. Japan on the other hand is very resource poor and must import nearly everything; yet they manage to run a modern industrial economy.

    Oil is an exception because the internal market has been hijacked by a cartel, so increasing domestic production benefits all oil-consuming economies. Given the nature of most members in the oil cartel, achieving relative oil independence should be a national security priority anyway.

  12. Not only is there plenty of coal for electricity generation, there’s also plenty for oil production:

    http://www.worldcoal.org/coal/uses-of-coal/coal-to-liquids/

    Strategically, I can see the position that we should use up “theirs” first (finite resource); but realistically we’re talking about the centuries down the road. We could use up half of theirs and then ours becomes obsolete. I think we should shoot for more than just energy independence but rather for being an energy exporter ASAP, while it’s still worth something.

  13. ” “Peak Oil,” if it exists, won’t be reached for hundreds of years if … ” is a pointed question IF, in fact, oil is abiotic.

    Not often mentioned are the economic factors of purchasing our own oil and natural gas (from ourselves – is that somehow incestuous?) combined with the royalties and resulting income and payroll taxes paid to our own treasury, Enough to erase deficits? Probably not, but a good start has to be using our own natural resources.

  14. curt lampkin:

    Your post at August 30, 2012 at 12:53 pm is completely wrong.

    Of note is your assertion saying of the ‘peak oil’ nonsense;

    Their main point is that while we have good reserves in the ground, the rate at which they can be extracted is insufficient to meet future demand

    Nonsense! If the extraction rate is insufficient then drill more wells.

    Richard

  15. Tom G(ologist) says:
    August 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm
    Hello Dave and thanks. As a fellow geologist (mining and natural gas consulting industry) I appreciate the level of detail and scope of knowledge you provide here. If it is OK with you, I would like to cite/reference some of this material on my blog which I keep mostly for my students’ benefit but I occasionally post a link to it here.

    Thanks

    Please feel free to do so.

  16. @cgh,

    Maintaining our status as Canada’s #1 petroleum export market should be one of our gov’t’s top priorities.

  17. I’m with Jem. Get rid of CAFE standards and let’s produce. NG cars are a proper alternative and gas and cheap diesel below $2/gal . Too many want to control the populace with mass tansit projects. Let people drive all they want to and wherever they want to. Fly too. There is so much untapped petroleum available it’s not funny. And I left out coal too. Nukes and clean coal should be a great part of the solution ahead. Cheap and redundant electricity for all and cheap gas for 30 years would go a long way to turning this country around. IMO.

  18. cgh says:
    August 30, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    In short, many conservative Canadians such as I now question whether or not the US can be taken either at its word or in supposedly binding agreements where trade is concerned. Thanks to Obama, you brought this on yourselves.

    Oh come on. Anyone who lives under a popularly elected government knows that good and bad governments both come and go. The Obama administration is just a four year slice of our government history; like the weather four years does not establish a trend.

    Canada should base long-term major decisions on long-term experience and expectations. Anyway you slice it, transportation costs to the US will always be lower than to Asia. We’ve lived side by side for almost 200 years without getting into a war (against each other that is). One administration on either side of the border making bad decisions does not equal the weight of all else that has gone before.

    Besides, when the next mini ice-age comes, I expect a lot of Canadians are going to want to move south to escape the polar bears.

  19. “What do we do about vulnerability to hurricane disruption in the Gulf?”

    I’m sure you noticed that a Hurricane just came across the gulf with almost zero impact on actual production. (the price moves up and down were due to futures traders gambling on expectations, a 2nd derivative type of play) The offshore platforms are engineered very well, and remember that much of the equipment is now subsurface, meaning it isn’t vulnerable to surface disruptions like hurricanes. The threat of weather on offshore production is vastly overstated, probably because (as mentioned above) a lot of futures traders make a lot of money by overstating it.

  20. @John West,

    There is no “strategy” in the notion that “we should use up ‘theirs’ first”… AKA “It’s not going anywhere. Let’s leave the oil in the ground till we need it.”

    The “it’s not going anywhere” strategy will turn “35 to 36 billion barrels of oil and 137 trillion cubic feet of natural gas” into “9 to 10 billion barrels of oil” and no gas and lead to the North Slope being shut in by 2025, stranding “about 1 billion barrels of oil.”

    The Trans Alaska Pipeline System’s (TAPS) minimum flow rate of about 300,000 barrels of oil per day will be reached in 2025, absent new developments or reserves growth beyond the forecasted technically remaining reserves. An Alaska gas pipeline and gas sales from the Point Thomson field and the associated oil and condensate would provide another boost to oil production and extend the life of TAPS for about one year to 2026. A shut down of TAPS would potentially strand about 1 billion barrels of oil reserves from the fields analyzed.

    Page ix

    For the complete study interval from 2005 to 2050, the forecasts of economically recoverable oil and gas additions, including reserves growth in known fields, is 35 to 36 billion barrels of oil and 137 trillion cubic feet of gas. These optimistic estimates assume continued high oil and gas prices, stable fiscal policies, and all areas open for exploration and development. For this optimistic scenario, the productive life of the Alaska North Slope would be extended well beyond 2050 and could potentially result in the need to refurbish TAPS and add capacity to the gas pipeline.

    The forecasts become increasingly pessimistic if the assumptions are not met as illustrated by the following scenarios.

    1. If the ANWR 1002 area is removed from consideration, the estimated economically recoverable oil is 29 to 30 billion barrels of oil and 135 trillion cubic feet of gas.

    2. Removal of ANWR 1002 and the Chukchi Sea OCS results in a further reduction to 19 to 20 billion barrels of oil and 85 trillion cubic feet of gas.

    3. Removal of ANWR 1002, Chukchi Sea OCS, and the Beaufort Sea OCS results in a reduction to 15 to 16 billion barrels of oil and 65 trillion cubic feet of gas.

    4. Scenario 3 and no gas pipeline reduces the estimate to 9 to 10 billion barrels of oil (any gas discovered will likely remain stranded).

    Some combination of these hypothetical scenarios is more likely to occur than the optimistic estimates.

    Page viii

    “Drill baby, drill” will extend “the productive life of the Alaska North Slope… well beyond 2050″ and recover 25 to 27 billion barrels of oil and 137 trillion cubic feet of gas that would otherwise have to be imported.

  21. David:

    It was not explicit in your analysis, but did you consider the oil production by using CO2 (Ha!) to recover oil from “played out” oil fields? DOE is actively encouraging the capture of CO2 from coal plants and using it for EOR, not to sequester it. It has been suggested that even some of the oldest oil wells in Pennsylvania and Ohio could start producing again using CO2 enhancement. The oil available from this is estimated to be 60 to 100% of the oil originally extracted from those wells. Of course the oil has to be expensive enough to cover the cost of capturing the CO2 but that is part of the argument against “peak oil.” There is plenty of it out there once we become smart enough to get it and/or it becomes worth it to pay the price.

  22. David, I agree, but the US government has fouled that nest fairly thoroughly over the past four years.

    Richard, about your peak oil comment, it’s indeed the case that there’s a lot of mythology about the supposed peak oil hypothesis. But there’s one aspect of it that does need to be considered. Fuel doesn’t become obsolete because the supply runs out; it becomes obsolete when it no longer has sufficient density to meet current needs. The problem with petroleum will be the same as the problem with wood in the 13th century. Specifically the transport infrastructure. There is a finite limit to how many tankers can move through the Straits of Hormuz or how many pipelines can be built. At some point the marginal costs of building new infrastructure forces the adoption of new fuel sources that are less costly and can still meet the scale of the overall demand.

    For example, in 1970, a large proportion of US electricity supply, and some of Canada’s, was being met by bunker oil. However, virtually all of the new electricity supply over the subsequent three decades was met primarily by nuclear power, with the last of the new nuclear plants coming into service in the mid 1990s. A large part of the advantage of nuclear power is the much smaller infrastructure required to deliver kWh to the demand point.

    Now most of the new supply is being supplied from gas. But there’s a limit to this, not in the number of holes than can be drilled but in the amount of infrastructure required to process and move it. In short, over the long term, as we become increasingly urbanized, it’s all about energy density. Which is why the renewables fail so dismally.

  23. Dave – not just unconventional petroleum-based liquid fuels, but diesel, jet fuel and gasoline from coal are economic today (as John West points out) as well as the even cheaper processes for producing the same transport fuels from natural gas, of which we have a glut. Shell and Sasol (the South African coal liquefaction company) are both seriously studying gas-to-liquids plants in Louisiana. Even cheaper is directly burning liquefied natural gas (LNG) in trucks, which is already taking place. Shell and Gulf are building LNG filling stations, and major truck manufacturers such as Navistar and Peterbilt now manufacture trucks that will run on the ultra-clean fuel. The only practical limits to America’s liquid hydrocarbon production are those imposed by Democrats.

  24. One important point is that substantially increased US oil production would have a large effect on the US trade deficit. The result would be that the USD would increase in value relative to other currencies. This would not only reduce the price of gas at the pump, but reduce the price of all goods that are at least in part imported.

    The oft repeated claim that increased US oil production would not reduce the price at the pump, is false for this reason.

  25. Don’t be swayed by the nay-Sayers contention that more domestic oil production will not lower the price of gas at the pump. That canard assumes that the dollar is a fixed standard of measurement. Not true. Keeping hundreds of millions of dollars per day in this economy instead of adding to the trade deficit would strengthen the dollar.

    Energy independence in the USA may not lower the price of oil in Swiss francs, but the American Dollar would buy more Swiss francs.

    Every sane country in the world would love to have excess oil to export.

  26. Thank you for your workup. As oil is responsible for something around a third of total national energy use (mainly vehicular fuels), I would like to suggest Coal to Liquids (Fischer – Tropschs) as a quick addition to that capability. CTL is also a player on the Alaska North Slope as the majority of the coal in the state is north of the Brooks Range on the western part of the state.

    Gas to Liquids (basically synthetic diesel / kerosine / Jet-A / JP-8 /AvGas / RP-1) is a way to use known fields of natural gas on the North Slope and keep the pipeline filled. Synthetic product can be batched with oil down the pipeline and separated in Valdez. Doing this is double interesting as it puts in place infrastructure capable of handling CTLs from western AK and does so over time.

    Streamlining the nuclear permitting process and starting to adopt thorium reactors would also work the electricity part of the energy problem.

    Energy independence by 2020? Possible. Problem will be to figure out how to get the congress and the regulatory apparatus out of the way so that the marketplace can make the appropriate choices. We all want to design the solution at some level, and central planning never works. Cheers -

  27. Luther Wu says:
    August 30, 2012 at 12:18 pm
    Just as I thought… a bunch of isolationists. How wrong can a plan be! Imagine, ending payments to the sources funding most of the terrorist movements worldwide? Wouldn’t it better that we reach out to them instead and show them we mean them no harm?
    /s
    ===================================================================
    I know! Let’s build a memorial called “The Crescent ot Embrace”!

    http://www.crescentofbetrayal.com/

    “Drill, Baby, drill!”

  28. I think most of us here favor domestic power generated by whatever is available: oil, gas, coal, hamster wheels, geothermal, wind, solar, fat people on stationary bicycles, thorium reactors, thermal reactors, fast neutron reactors, etc., etc.

    “Undiscovered Technically Recoverable Reserves” are like climate models. They’re scientific wild ass guesses based on what we ‘think’ we know. However, we do us know that there are huge reserves of natural gas in the form of hydrate deposits off of the coast of NC and SC:

    http://marine.usgs.gov/fact-sheets/gas-hydrates/title.html

  29. @Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7,

    Hurricanes can be very problematic in the Gulf; although they have rarely been catastrophic. The 1-2 punch of Rita & Katrina did a lot of damage and production was still recovering when Ike hit. Ike was truly catastrophic. Plus it hit right about the same time as the 2008 economic meltdown.
    Ship-shaped floating production units (FPU) are one way to mitigate hurricane disruptions.

    Offshore Alaska is a very challenging environment. The “death spiral” of the Arctic sea ice hasn’t changed this. Despite the challenges, Shell has spent billions preparing to drill in the Chukchi & Beaufort Seas…

    Unlocking the Exploration Potential of the U.S. Beaufort Sea Continental Shelf, Offshore Arctic Alaska

    Unlocking the Exploration Potential of the U.S. Chukchi Sea Continental Shelf, Offshore Arctic Alaska

  30. cgh:

    Thankyou for your reply to me at August 30, 2012 at 1:38 pm. However, I rejected an assertion which you made and your reply changes the subject.

    Of course I agree that energy density is important. Indeed, that is why fossil fuels replaced wind, solar and muscle powers when the high energy density of fossil fuels became available by use of the steam engine. But you are now claiming that the increased infrastructure required for increased fossil fuel use will negate the net available energy from each unit (e.g. barrel) of fossil fuel.

    That claim is clearly not true. The infrastructure required to produce, fractionate and distribute oil in the US is less than the similar infrastructure needed for the US to obtain processed oil from e.g. the Middle East. Simply, there is no problem provided by the additional infrastructure required for additional oil production. However, legislation which inhibits or prevents construction of the infrastructure would be a problem (this would be similar to existing US legislation which inhibits oil production in the US).

    This is the problem with the ‘peak oil’-scare. In common with AGW-scare, as each asserted ‘problem’ is debunked then another improbable problem is suggested.

    Richard

  31. You all should spend a bit of time over at Huffington when they have a story on anything to do with increasing oil production. That is the mind set that will stand in the way of achieving any sort of independence in energy. The belief that the oil companies are the agents of Mordor is endemic. You get the feeling that most of them had their opinions on energy and manufaturing companies formed by Captain Planet.

  32. The major challenge in petroleum supply will not be satisfying the US but will be satisfying all those countries in the developing world who will be bidding against us to get oil in future. These countries are making better decisions now and have been doing so for awhile. Their middle class is exploding by global middle class standards and they’re going to be entering into the world oil markets in significant numbers. If we do not develop additional sources of energy, energy prices will explode as all that demand comes on market over the next few decades.

    It is that well deserved increase in demand that is the reason we in N. America need to make it easier to explore, transport, refine, and deliver hydrocarbon product cheaply in the US. The numbers needed to satisfy that anticipated demand and the lead times and investment needed involve staggering numbers. We’re nowhere near ready.

  33. David
    Good presentation of data however it would be better with expected decline curves for these various potential resources. With a series of potential type declines for these various resources, modeling production rates would be pretty straight forward and essential to actually answering the question of if we can be “NA energy independent ” by 2020. I’ll give you your resource #s unchallenged but I want to see what that implies in terms of # of wells that need to be drilled ( and continue to be drilled to offset declines ) and then judge whether that is a reasonable expectation. Given that new production (and undeveloped resources) are dominated by resource plays, which have steeper declined than conventional production, my guess is that it may be harder to achieve than you think, regardless of the underlying resource. Anyway would interested in your assessment of the # of wells per year required to achieve this goal compared to current activity. One thing I am sure of is this level activity would generate a tremendous # of jobs & employment, probably drive energy prices down & be very good for the economy. Look at North Dakota as an example – lowest unemployment in the country, driven by Bakken activity.

  34. We have the resources, we have the technology. We lack the political will.

    Nuclear/solar/wind/thorium are not replacements for oil. Even if we increase our nuclear power generation, we’ll still need natural gas plants because they can be brought online quickly to meet heavy demands.

    Wind and solar are intermittent, expense and not worthwhile to deploy large-scale at this time.

  35. Don’t hold your breath that Romney will actually allow more fossil fuel. His statements show he is on the Global warming/CO2 is EVIL bandwagon.

    I wonder how Mitt’s ““North American energy independence” by 2020. fits in with the Bush and Clinton and Obama Administrations commitment to Agenda 21? As far as I can tell all he is doing is repackaging the same old UN totalitarian crap.

    I adopt what I call no regrets policies. Policies that will allow us to become energy independent and will have as one of their by-products, reduction of the CO2 that we emit, the greenhouse gases that we emit. So let me tell you the kinds of things that I’d like to do.

    “With regards to our developing more energy, I want to see us use more of our renewable resources: bio-diesel, bio-fuel, ethanol, cellulosic ethanol. I want to see us developing liquefied coal if we can sequester the CO2 properly. I want to see nuclear power. I want to see us develop our own oil off-shore, and in Anwar. Let’s develop all the sources we can to provide for our own energy needs and free ourselves of independence on Ahmadinejad, and Chavez and Putin and others that have that oil today….”

    “On the other side of the equation, in addition to developing our energy, we have to be more efficient in our use of it. And that means more fuel efficient vehicles. It means more energy efficient homes. The combination of more efficiency and the generation of more domestic-sourced energy will allow us to become energy independent. And we do need an Apollo type project. A Manhattan style project where we put in place the funding necessary to seriously get on track to becoming truly energy independent. And that has as the benefit, of reducing our emissions of CO2.”

    http://aboutmittromney.com/environment.htm

    Read that and then watch Rosa Koire’s video on Agenda 21 and the plans to rebuild of our cities using “Smart Growth.” Plans to concentrate the US population on 26% of our land and relegate us to highrises and bikes. Land that also must provide ALL our food (see Cornell University’s “Foodshed”)

    I see nothing that Romney is saying that contradicts UN policies. He has already proved he is on board as governor:

    Governor provides green initiatives:

    “Combining affordable housing and environmentally-friendly smart growth isn’t just about dollars and cents. It’s about promoting common sense,” said Romney. “By simultaneously investing in affordable housing and smart growth, Green Communities will help support our economy while maintaining the kind of diversity and healthy environment that makes Massachusetts such a great place to work, live and raise a family.”

    “We commend Governor Romney, MassHousing and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative for joining Enterprise in making smart, sustainable building mainstream in affordable housing,” said Bart Harvey, chairman and CEO of The Enterprise Foundation… “This partnership will produce healthier, more energy efficient, affordable housing for residents across the Commonwealth,” said Rob Pratt, director of the Renewable Energy Trust…”

    myclob.pbworks.com – Romney Announces Massachusetts Green Communities Initiative – Jul 7, 2005

    Anyone remember House Resolution 25X25?? “The House Agriculture Committee today moved the nation closer to a renewable energy future, adopting a resolution that calls for 25 percent of the nation’s energy needs being met by renewable resources by the year 2025.”

    Our Vision:
    By the year 2025, America’s farms, ranches and forests will provide 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the U.S. while continuing to produce safe, abundant and affordable food, feed and fiber.

    25x’25 Mission Statement

    Document, affirm, and advocate to policymakers, energy stakeholders, and information multipliers the fact that America’s working lands can provide 25 percent of the nation’s energy needs from renewable sources while simultaneously:

    * producing abundant and affordable food, feed, and fiber;
    * strengthening national security;
    * reducing dependence on imported fossil fuel;
    * sustaining and enhancing soil, water and air quality, and wildlife habitat;
    * sequestering carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
    * keeping the cost of energy affordable; and
    * boosting the economy and creating millions of new jobs.
    http://www.25X25

    Yeah, I will probably vote for him because Obama is worse… but not by much. However do not expect the goals and direction to change. The plans to remove humans from privately owned property is moving along quite smoothly. As Rosa mentioned they will not even bother to pay you for the land they force you off. Instead it will be a “regulatory taking” Fine you, bankrupt you and grab the house and property to pay the fines. Rosa should know it was her job in California. Here is a WUWT article on one of the battles The ugly battle between rural residents and alternative energy mandates in California

  36. For decades, I scoffed at the idea of energy independence, but with recent developments in technology and resources — yes, we can. Not tomorrow, but in ten years — yes, we can for the North American continent. Nevertheless, that will not free us from the world price of oil. This product is traded on the world market, and our price will ride up and down with the world price. But we would not be sending $ to governments that do not like us. Both Keynesians and Supply Siders would agree that our economy would be helped by not sending $ to these governments.

  37. @Louis Hooffstetter,

    Gas hydrate deposits aren’t “reserves” of any kind. The word “reserves” is routinely misused in discussions about oil and gas. Since there is no technical way of recovering them at this time, they aren’t even undiscovered technically recoverable resources.

    Reserves have already been discovered. They have wells in them. Reserves can be “proved producing,” “proved undeveloped,” “probable,” “contingent,” or they can even be “possible”… But they have to actually have been drilled, discovered, identified in a wellbore and there must be some sort of plan for producing them

    One of the biggest canards in President Obama’s energy “policy” is the “2% of the world’s oil reserves” strawman.

    Publicly traded US oil companies have to “book” proved reserves according to very strict SEC rules. Here’s a very simplistic example…

    In this scenario, a well is drilled up-dip to a dry hole with an oil show. The entire volume can be booked as proved because the down-dip well has an oil-water contact…

    Proved Reserves Down to OWC

    In this scenario, the down-dip well has no oil show, just wet sandstone. If the oil well was drilled on the basis of a seismic hydrocarbon indicator, the volume down-dip of the lowest known oil has to be booked as probable…
    Proved Plus Probable Reserves Down to HCI
    When the production from the well exceeds the original booked volume, the operator can increase the proved reserves on the basis of cumulative oil production vs. water cut or pressure decline, depending on the drive mechanism.

    The oil industry doesn’t drill wells for the purposes of stockpiling proved reserves of oil and gas. We drill wells to make money selling the oil and gas. We convert undiscovered technically recoverable resources into proved producing reserves.

  38. @tmlutas,

    Very true… And our competitors take this business very seriously:
    “Large-scale deep-water rigs are our mobile national territory and a strategic weapon.”
    –CNOOC CEO Wang Yilin

  39. I looks like the only thing standing between America and its energy future is President Obama and his ugly crew of Krazy-Cats. We have the same problem here in Australia. Ours is called Gillard and her ugly crew from the Labourious Party.

  40. Cheap energy only benefits consumers, business, jobs and the economy.

    Why, if you wanted to expand government and dependency upon its handouts, would one want to encourage something that would enable folks to make their own way.

    I’m only a 1/2 century old, yet I fear for our futures.
    Rant/

    Also, our refineries are at capacity.
    Why build any more, at risk of lowering profits/making the greens or politicians mad.
    Rant///

  41. For those knocking thorium might want to scan this

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=los%20alamos%20paper%20synfuel&source=web&cd=7&cad=rja&ved=0CEMQFjAG&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fas.org%2Fsgp%2Fothergov%2Fdoe%2Flanl%2Flib-www%2Fla-pubs%2F00237184.pdf&ei=bew_UKCtKaWtygHe_YGYDw&usg=AFQjCNFPWal8_Be1yQ16YLZWnnEc7aNB6A

    from the folks as Los Alamos in 2007. Another five years wasted on killing birds, bats and burning money for the Solyndra’s of the left. Point is there’s lots of ways to produce hydrocarbons. Even Google seems to want to go to Titan to scoop up all that natural gas (methane to the science folks). Even Germany had synfuel plants during WWII since they didn’t seem to have any convenient oil fields in the Reich.

    I like thorium for a number of reasons. Imagine developing a thorium electric generating and synfuel export package to the third world as self contained units. The nuclear (non-thorium) self-contained plants are under development today. And, of course, we’ve been running portable nuke plants around the globe since Rickover got tired of diesel engines in subs.

    It’s really, like the space program man-on-the-moon, more an issue of desire and focus than reasons not to be the largest exported of power in the world, much less “independent”. Just think what even mildly competant folks could build with just one years worth of deficit.

  42. Two things:

    1. Economic. At current $100/bbl, current oilsands economic and attractive, at $150/bbl, lower volume/rate will be attractive and Green River Shale etc. will be good. If gas prices can get back to oil prices on a 10:1 ratio, or even 12:1, then gas shales and tight gas will be good. All of this requires consumers to pay higher energy costs than currently, however.

    If we want all this oil, we can have it if we are willing to pay for it.

    2. Strategic. Should we develop our own, North American reserves at this time or should we produce the Mid-East/OPEC supplies first? Using up the Mid-East supplices of our troubling friends means that down the road they may be less troubling than today. At which point we can develop our own.

    Paying ourselves is better economically than paying others. However, there may be a larger net benefit if those who wish to disturb the world have less to disturb the world with as time goes by.

  43. Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 says:
    August 30, 2012 at 12:38 pm
    yoshisen says:
    August 30, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Fossil is a fine idea, but to be honest, we should be using thorium or a thorium/hybrid reactor.

    I am also a big fan of thorium potential, but it will not replace most of the current uses of oil, which is the subject of David’s post. Oil goes into plastics, fertilizers, and a bunch of other stuff in addition to supplying the best liquid fuels for transportation. What thorium reactors would replace is coal and natural gas for electrical power, plus give us a way to dispose of waste from current uranium reactors. We have plenty of coal and natural gas, so even developing thorium reactors won’t give us a capability we can’t already meet, just the expectation of a lower cost.

    Not neccessarily. A nuclear reactor running at high temperatures, like the LFTR, would be a great heat source for coal or gas to liquid processes. And even if those run out in the far future, we can also use them to re-cycle atmospheric CO2 into liquid hydrocarbon fuels as in this:

    http://www.lanl.gov/news/newsbulletin/pdf/Green_Freedom_Overview.pdf

  44. cedarhill says:
    August 30, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    For those knocking thorium…..
    ______________________
    I am all for thorium but I have my doubts as to whether or not the movers and shakers who run the world are going to allow thorium in the USA, Australia or the EU. It does not fit into the Agenda 21 plan of equal poverty for all.

    China and India will get coal and Nuclear but not us. Heck the World Bank and dumping mega bucks in to coal plants for China, India and South Africa.

  45. Nuclear or Fossil Fuels, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that a positive change in leadership will realize implementation of an common-sense energy policy that relies on base load capability, not on wind and solar.

    Let wind and solar be the icing on the cake, for those that like icing.

  46. Mr.MIddleton,

    In your article I didn’t see reference to refinery capacity. Shouldn’t that be both a subject of concern, as well as a high priority? If memory serves, the US hasn’t built any new refinery capacity since 1974. Also, many of the problems from Katrina came from damaged refineries, as opposed to lack of crude.

    Given an increase in domestic oil production, I would expect a need for more refinery capacity as well.

  47. David Middleton
    Thanks for the evidence. On Hubbert and “Peak Oil”, it is important to clarify that EACH geographic region shows a “Hubbert” type curve for EACH type of hydrocarbon. Thus “multi-cycle” Hubbert analyses to cover combined regions and types. e.g. see Fig 15 in Exponential growth, energetic Hubbert cycles, and the advancement of technology Tad Patzek, 2008.

    Recovering Athabasca oil sands requires about 3 bbl of water converted to steam for each bbl of heavy oil recovered. Then 30% of that must be discarded as coke.
    A major challenge is the steadily declining Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI or EROI). See Charles Hall.
    Oilsands and especially oil shale require much more energy and cost to produce (LOWER EROI) than conventional crude oil. Consequently they require much higher prices to justify production.

    Conventional crude oil has an average EROI of about 18. Oil shale (kerogen) only has an EROI of about 1.8 to 2.1. That is less than the minimum of 3:1 needed for society to function per Charles Hall analysis. Green River Oil Shale further requires a 1,000 MW power plant running for 3 years and freezing a curtain of water around the heated zone to prevent ground water contamination.
    Better ways to extract, convert or synthesize fuels have to be discovered with higher EROI. (grain ethanol with EROI ~ 1 is insufficient.)

  48. “Peak Oil,” if it exists, won’t be reached for hundreds of years if … ” is a pointed question IF, in fact, oil is abiotic.” I believe in abiotic oil because it makes thermodynamic sense. However, even if oil is abiotic, you still have peak oil. It just means that old calcs for the peak oil date are invalid, and peak oil comes later than previously thought.

  49. How can we predict national energy inependence dates without showing an upward-sloping demand curve? Surely our demand is not static?

    Thanks for the post.

    Just listened to the Romney speech. His best line – and well-delivered:

    President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise…is to help you and your family.

    From Gail’s post, it looks like Romney may try to be a “healer” too.

  50. Indeed David Hagen, please take EROE into account.
    Is it really worthwhile to invest a billion barrels of oil to squeeze 1.8 billion barrels of oil out of tarsand or shale?
    I think I’d rather walk or ride my bike.

  51. From page 20:
    “First Solar Inc. is warning that a construction delay threatens to undo its sale of a large solar power plant planned for Los Angeles County to power producer Exelon Corp. The company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday that it has been unable to resolve a construction permit issue at the 230-megawatt Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One plant. That is blocking the distribution of funds from a $646 million federal loan guarantee to help pay for the construction of the project.”

    And on page 19 the paper complains that the Federal Gov has only spent 11.9 billion in tax dollars for R&D. Romney supports spending 20 billion in R&D for “energy” and “car technology.”

    And what is this language about the Federal Gov’t leveling the playing field (pg 19)? This is exactly the type of language that leaves room for mandates and emissions reductions agreements. He set up RGGI and Romneycare, and is clearly leaving room for energy in health mandates in what he is now saying.

  52. David

    Thanks for the clearly thought out presentation. It is pretty obvious to most of us old oil men that ‘governments’ are the biggest hinderance to efficient production and cheaper energy (whether oil, gas, shale, nuclear, hydro, etc).

    Ciao,

    John

  53. Shell Oil Shale Results

    Tucker said the 1,700 barrels of extracted oil came from a plot that was 30 feet by 40 feet at the surface, and roughly 1,800 feet deep, on Shell property.

    http://www.postindependent.com/article/20120302/VALLEYNEWS/120309979

    Question: what does the above convert to in USG/Ton?
    What is Bulk density of Oil Shale?. Obviously it must vary with organic content

    Lacking a good number I just guessed a SG of 2.4 from table here

    http://www.edumine.com/xtoolkit/tables/sgtables.htm

    30*40*1800=2.16Million ft3
    Water Density 62.37lb/ft3 at 60degf
    Assumed (guessed) bulk density oil shale at 2.4 Specific Gravity
    2.16Million ft3*62.37*2.4/2000= 161,663 Ton

    1700Bbl*42= 71,400USG

    Yield= 71,400USG/161663 Ton= 0.44USG/Ton

    What am I missing?

    cheers
    brent

  54. From an economic perspective, the way to optimise wealth (in the US or anywhere else) is to produce and sell the things you can generate most cheaply and efficiently, and buy the ones you can’t. ‘Energy independence’ is conceptually just as dumb as ‘food independence’ or any of the other bogeymen used to scare the populace – unless you subscribe to the notion (like the greenies) that we should impoverish ourselves for some abstract purpose.

    David Middleton’s excellent analysis demonstrates that there is plenty of oil around, and that quite a bit of it is probably economically viable to extract at current prices. That doesn’t mean it would be viable if the retail price of gas was $2 per gallon.

    In an energy-hungry world, the best thing for the US – or any other country – is to be a profitable energy exporter. As David points out, there are practical problems with leaving it in the ground in fields that are currently being worked. Further, since nobody knows what the price will be in 20 years, it is very risky to ration production and exports just in case. You may well be giving up a bird in the hand for one that will be gone in 20 years, if alternative fuel sources become viable competitors.

    Drill, baby, drill!

  55. cassandraclub:

    At August 30, 2012 at 11:32 pm you say

    Indeed David Hagen, please take EROE into account.
    Is it really worthwhile to invest a billion barrels of oil to squeeze 1.8 billion barrels of oil out of tarsand or shale?
    I think I’d rather walk or ride my bike.

    That is your choice and nobody is stopping you from making it. The problem is that people like you insist everybody should walk or ride their bikes, too.

    The greatest evils in history have all been caused by people who proclaim,
    “I know what makes me smile and everybody will be made to smile like me”.

    Richard

  56. How many oil wells, on land and offshore, are there in the USA which have been drilled, oil and/or gas found sufficient to make them good producing wells – then capped or even plugged and abandoned? IIRC there’s thousands of unused holes in the Gulf of Mexico, dunno the numbers on good wells VS dry holes. A good percentage of them have ended up abandoned because the company that drilled them couldn’t come up with the money to put them into production.

    Why not invest in whatever it takes to put those good and unused wells into production? The Deepwater Horizon disaster was due to a slipshod job of plugging the well. Why was BP even bothering to drill such a well without also investing in the equipment and infrastructure to put it into production ASAP? It’s like building locomotives without laying down the tracks for them to run on!

    We need more oil refineries, lots more. Locate them closer to where the oil is. Most of the USA’s refinery capacity is located along the Gulf Coast where it’s vulnerable to storm damage. Makes sense for oil from the Gulf and oil coming in by tanker, but it makes f###-all sense to build a pipeline for crude oil from the Dakotas/Montana down to Texas.

    Build new refineries in North (has one 60K bbl/day refinery) and South Dakota (one 400K bbl/day refinery to start construction “real soon”), where the oil is AND build the pipeline but use it to move gasoline and other refined products. Zero chance of a hurricane damaging a refinery in South Dakota. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oil_refineries#United_States

    How many barrels of oil a day are coming from the Dakotas? Yet there’s only 60,000 barrels a day of current refining capacity in North Dakota, plus 185,500 in four refineries in Montana. Sounds like a government regulated project…

    What I’ve wondered about for some years is if it would be economically feasible to bore tunnels through the mountains the Trans-Alaska Pipeline goes over? Run the pipes through instead of over and the oil gets to the other end quicker and with less energy used to pump it. The tunneling technology exists to do it now. In the 1970’s it was “easier” to brute force it up and over.

    I’m a native of Idaho, bred and born here. For years Idaho has had the highest pump price for gasoline in the USA. (The past few months we’ve dropped to 2nd place, wheee.) The oil companies cite Idaho’s low population, but if that’s a real factor, why doesn’t Wyoming always have the highest price in the lower 48?

    There’s one pipeline carrying gasoline into Idaho. It comes from the refineries by Salt Lake City (five of them with total capacity of 174,200, also pretty much immune to hurricanes) and ends in Boise. Tanker trucks fan out from there over most of Idaho. I assume northern Idaho gets much of its gasoline by truck from refineries in Washington. (#5 in US oil refining, six refineries 622,580 total capacity.) No pipeline into or across northern Idaho.

    Pump prices are all over the map, State and local taxes cause some of the variance but weird things happen like extra high prices really close to refineries and lower prices at the ends of long tanker truck delivery routes. Aside from taxes, if real world economic rules were being used, the closer to refineries, the less gasoline would cost.

    The History Channel Modern Marvels season 9, episode 28 “Gasoline” was quite educational on how the industry operates.

    There’s two grades of gasoline produced and it’s pretty much identical from every refinery because most of it goes into common carrier pipelines. For example a Shell refinery in Texas puts gasoline into a line going to New York and the same amount can be taken out the same day and put into trucks in New York. The gasoline takes a week to get there and what Shell takes out in New York could actually be from any of the other refineries using that pipeline. It’s like one guy dumping a bucket of water into Chesapeake Bay and another guy dipping a bucket out of the ocean on a UK beach and claiming it’s the same water.

    Gasoline is gasoline and as long as each company takes out only what they put in, and pays for any extra they take out, it makes no difference.

    What is different amongst the various brands of gasoline is the additives, which are stored at pipeline termini and poured into the tanker trucks along with the raw gasoline. Mixing? No mixing, just whatever happens as the truck is filled and sloshing as the truck moves. It’s enough to stir in the additives.

    There’s two ways the additives get to the pipeline termini. One is by tanker trucks or railroad tank cars from refineries. The other is through the same pipeline the gasoline goes through.

    Years ago the different products were kept separate in the lines by moving plugs called pigs. Putting the pigs in and taking them out was quite a process, and since most lines flow one way the pigs had to be sent back to the start by truck or railroad.

    Then someone figured out how to fairly precisely track different products using time, volume, pressure etc. The products mix very little in the lines. At the termini the different products are taken out as they arrive and put into their proper storage tanks.

    What does mix is called transmix and is either sold to places that can use it as is (such as liquid fueled turbine powerplants) or is sent back to the refineries by truck or railroad.

    Five percent of the pipelines are owned and used by single companies, ie Chevron refined gasoline into a Chevron owned line, into Chevron owned trucks and delivered to Chevron stations. But for the gas stations with no ownership ties to a specific refiner, and even for most of the stations that do have such ties, there’s no way for you to know exactly which company refined it. At the “big name” stations you can be pretty certain that at least some of the additives were produced by a company owned refinery. For the independents (though some independent gas station companies are quite large) their additives are cocktails of chemicals made by the big oil companies.

    So next time you fill up, think “Is this really company X gasoline? There’s no way for me to know!”.

  57. Excellent article David – very informative – thank you.

    Regarding the success of the Athabasca oilsands, please see http://www.OilsandsExpert.com

    Regards, Allan

    Here is a related post from Aug 22 – I agree with you:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/22/dc-circuit-tosses-out-epas-cross-state-pollution-rule/#comment-1063249

    Cheap abundant energy enabled the building of America.

    America once again has the huge competitive advantage of cheap abundant energy.

    You CAN rebuild your economy AND your manufacturing sector based on this cheap abundant energy.

    However, you will have to counter the powerful forces that view this economic rebirth as a disaster for the environment*.
    For example (and see below):
    ”Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” – Maurice Strong, Founder of the UN Environmental Program

    For the record, I don’t agree with this position, and I have a strong predictive track record in energy and the environment.

    In comparison, the “forces of darkness” have a long history of failed predictions, and a pathological predisposition towards catastrophism and philosophical incompetence.

    In contrast, I view the possible economic demise of America as the real disaster for humanity.

    Despite its flaws, America is still the greatest hope for human rights in the world today.

    I wish all of you a pleasant evening.

    – Allan MacRae

    ************

    * Source:

    http://www.green-agenda.com

    Excerpts:

    “Complex technology of any sort is an assault on
    human dignity. It would be little short of disastrous for us to
    discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy,
    because of what we might do with it.”
    – Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute

    “The prospect of cheap fusion energy is the
    worst thing that could happen to the planet.”
    – Jeremy Rifkin,
    Greenhouse Crisis Foundation

    “Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the
    equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.”
    – Prof Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University

  58. Assuming the oil is as estimated, energy independence by 2020 is very unlikely. Between permitting, equipment construction and deployment and all the other silly necessities it is just not going to happen. It is well past time to start developing our own resources, whether we can meet some arbitrary time frame. We’ve been hearing that all the drilling just isn’t going to help because the results are 5-10 years in the future for about 4 decades. It is well past time we got started on this.

  59. It was mentioned that the very old oil fields can be made to produce by pumping CO2 down the wells. Common sense in light of recent knowledge would be to re-drill them down to the next layer of oil. There was never on earth enough life to explain the amount of oil and gas buried deep and bubbling to the surface all over the world.

    It has been found that oil exists much deeper in the earth than science allows, it has also been noted that the chemical complexity of oil can not be traced to a plant or animal origin. Burying by the billions of tons of a product that floats on water in myriad places around the world varying in depths of up to 10,000ft in solid rock is a feat worthy of hudini. Carbon it would seem is a ubiquitous product of the earth, if it was not, diamonds would not exist, and diamonds for some reason are not called fossils. Our wonderful planet is an alchemists dream.

  60. I would hope that any new nuclear power plants are constructed with ‘walkaway-safe’ designs rather than designs that require continuous active management in order to not melt down.

  61. theBuckWheat:

    Please explain the relevance – if any – to this thread of your post at August 31, 2012 at 5:26 am

    Richard

  62. Rud Istvan says:
    August 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm
    It is not technically possible.
    ==============
    Look at history. Every accomplishment was called “impossible” right up until the day someone figured out how to do it.

  63. wayne Job says:
    August 31, 2012 at 5:00 am
    It has been found that oil exists much deeper in the earth than science allows, it has also been noted that the chemical complexity of oil can not be traced to a plant or animal origin.
    ================
    limestone + water + heat + pressure + iron = hydrocarbons

  64. Bill Parsons says:
    August 30, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    How can we predict national energy independence dates without showing an upward-sloping demand curve? Surely our demand is not static?

    We used 80 quads in 1979 and we were up to 98 quads by 2010, about 0,7% annual increase over 30 years. We hit 94 quads in 1997. So our last 12 or 13 years of energy consumption growth was about half the 30 year average.

  65. Friends:

    Can those using this thread to promote ideas of abiotic oil please explain the relevance – if any – of their pet theory to the subject of this thread.

    Richard

  66. Allan MacRae says:
    August 31, 2012 at 4:06 am


    Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” – Maurice Strong, Founder of the UN Environmental Program

    “Complex technology of any sort is an assault on human dignity. It would be little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy, because of what we might do with it.”
    – Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute

    “The prospect of cheap fusion energy is the worst thing that could happen to the planet.”
    – Jeremy Rifkin,
    Greenhouse Crisis Foundation

    “Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.”
    – Prof Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University

    Some of the most dispicable people on earth are going to be severely disappointed when the next step in energy generation involves LENR, which will indeed be the “source of clean, cheap, abundant energy” that Mr. Lovins mentions.

    http://pesn.com/2012/08/30/9602170_LENR-to-Market_Weekly_August30/

  67. cassandraclub says:
    August 30, 2012 at 11:32 pm
    Indeed David Hagen, please take EROE into account.
    Is it really worthwhile to invest a billion barrels of oil to squeeze 1.8 billion barrels of oil out of tarsand or shale?
    I think I’d rather walk or ride my bike.
    =============
    US policies are certainly headed in that direction. The semi trailers that currently deliver most of the goods in the country replaced by millions of peasants on bicycles carrying small loads each. Similar to China before they began to industrialize.

    What have the oil-sands done for Canada? Before the National Energy Program killed oil exploration in Canada 40 years ago, our dollar was trading above the US dollar. The Canadian dollar then entered a long period of decline, in which Canadian’s were told this was somehow “good” for us. Governments ran up large deficits.

    Today thanks in large part to oil exports made possible by the oil sands, the Canadian dollar has recovered, governments are running surpluses (the real green), and there are LOTS of JOBS.

  68. I’ll try to keep this short. First of all Romney doesn’t seem to have a coherent energy plan, just a collection of favors to various vested interests. Nothing new about that. The same has been true of every president since Carter. Carter actually had a fairly coherent plan, but it depended a lot on conservation and was largely (not entirely) scuttled by subsequent administrations in favor of “free market” approaches that haven’t worked all that well. I think that one can safely assume that Romney would not achieve energy independence by 2020. Or 2120 for that matter.

    Is energy independence by 2020 feasible? Possibly, but it would probably require a command economy style 7 year plan dictating exactly what resources were to be developed when and making sure that the drilling rigs, “refineries”, materials, etc were available when and where needed. I think that I can safely predict that’s not going to happen.

    Is energy independence by 2027 possible? That’s a much longer timeframe, and I think it’s possible, although I disagree substantially with David Middleton on the details. Some examples: It’s all well and good that there is probably a decent amount of oil in the Arctic. As things currently stand, it needs to flow to civilization through a 2mbpd bottleneck (the trans-Alaska pipeline) that has only 1.3mpbd excess capacity. I’m guessing that it would take a decade at least to build a larger pipeline, storage facilities for more oil, or ice capable tankers and a suitable port in an area that is iced in much of the year. Likewise Canada — expanding tar sand production is not impossible, but there isn’t that much additional water available from the current source — the Athabasca River. And the problem of disposing of large amounts of contaminated water is non-trivial. Solvable? Yes. But solving the problems will take a lot of time.

    As for Green River oil shales. People have been trying to bring the Green River Kerogen deposits to market for a century with basically no success. The problem is somewhat akin to trying to extract candle wax from the pores of a brick. Not that it forever impossible to do so, but I’d wait for proven technology that has a positive economic return before I counted that bunch of unhatched chickens. OTOH, I suspect that if world oil prices stay high (and I can’t think why overall, they won’t) Coal to Liquid might well be a lot easier and cheaper. CTL is proven technology (South Africa has used it for decades). It’s not so clear that the economics are there.

  69. richardscourtney says:
    August 31, 2012 at 6:27 am
    Friends:

    Can those using this thread to promote ideas of abiotic oil please explain the relevance – if any – of their pet theory to the subject of this thread.

    Richard

    No more than the Peak Oilers can defend their pet theory. On the whole, the notion of abiotic oil is a lot less ridiculous than Peak Oil. However, there’s simply no evidence that significant volumes of abiotic oil exist anywhere on Earth.

    Even if oil was abiotic and the product of some mythical mantle process, it would alter how we look for it or where we find it. The oil has to migrate from its source and accumulate in reservoir rocks from which we can economically produce it.

    Here’s a short list of things that do not support the abiotic oil theory:

    The Dnieper-Donets basin.
    The fractured granite reservoirs of the Cuu Long basin.
    Eugene Island Block 330 oil field.
    The ultra-deepwater Lower Tertiary play in the Gulf of Mexico.
    The deep subsalt plays offshore Brazil.
    Lost City.
    The Saturnian moon Titan

    Here’s a comprehensive list of things that might indicate than abiotic oil is possible.

    The Siljan Ring complex.

  70. Plenty oil, but at a price. To be economically recoverable the price will stay between 70-100 $ a barrel. That price level will provide a strong incentive for fuel efficiency, possibly even reducing total demand in an expanding economy. The target of 2020 may not be so unreachable after all.

  71. Correction: Even if oil was abiotic and the product of some mythical mantle process, it wouldn’t alter how we look for it or where we find it.

  72. David Middleton:

    Thankyou for your responses to me at August 31, 2012 at 7:09 am and especially at August 31, 2012 at 7:10 am.

    To be clear, I agree what you say.

    Richard

  73. <

    David L. Hagen says:
    August 30, 2012 at 9:23 pm
    David Middleton
    Thanks for the evidence. On Hubbert and “Peak Oil”, it is important to clarify that EACH geographic region shows a “Hubbert” type curve for EACH type of hydrocarbon. Thus “multi-cycle” Hubbert analyses to cover combined regions and types. e.g. see Fig 15 in Exponential growth, energetic Hubbert cycles, and the advancement of technology Tad Patzek, 2008.

    Recovering Athabasca oil sands requires about 3 bbl of water converted to steam for each bbl of heavy oil recovered. Then 30% of that must be discarded as coke.
    A major challenge is the steadily declining Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI or EROI). See Charles Hall.
    Oilsands and especially oil shale require much more energy and cost to produce (LOWER EROI) than conventional crude oil. Consequently they require much higher prices to justify production.

    Conventional crude oil has an average EROI of about 18. Oil shale (kerogen) only has an EROI of about 1.8 to 2.1. That is less than the minimum of 3:1 needed for society to function per Charles Hall analysis. Green River Oil Shale further requires a 1,000 MW power plant running for 3 years and freezing a curtain of water around the heated zone to prevent ground water contamination.
    Better ways to extract, convert or synthesize fuels have to be discovered with higher EROI. (grain ethanol with EROI ~ 1 is insufficient.)

    EROEI is to accounting what Trofim Lysenko was to science. EROEI is even dopier than AGW and Peak Oil. I don’t spend energy to fill my tank. I don’t give energy back to the gas & electric companies in exchange for them being nice enough to heat and light my home. My company doesn’t drill for oil & gas to make energy.

    I spend money to fill my tank. My company drills wells for oil & gas to make money. My gas & electric bills are paid for with money. My pay check, ExxonMobil & Shell credit card statements and checks to the gas & electric companies aren’t denominated in joules, kilowatts or btu – They are denominated in $.

    I don’t give a rat’s @$$ if 1 barrel of amoeba flatulence uses less energy to produce than 1 barrel of crude oil… Because the barrel of amoeba flatulence costs $800 and can’t be produced in sufficient quantities to be waiting for me at the Exxon or Shell station when I need it.

    If oil companies (or any businesses) used EROEI to guide their investment decisions, they would go out of business (unless the gov’t was footing the bill).

    Regarding the Green River Oil Shale of the Piceance Basin, see pages 20-21 and 50-51 of Bartis, James T. 2005. “Oil shale development in the United States : prospects and policy issues.” RAND Corporation.

    The in situ recovery process proposed by Shell requires 250-300 kWh of electricity per barrel of oil. That’s roughly 1 million BTU of electricity to produce 5.8 million BTU of oil. Production would require about 1.2 GW of generation capacity per 100,000 BOPD. The electricity could be provided by gas-fired generation, fueled by the associated gas production. The Piceance Basin has more than adequate water supply to support at least 3 million BOPD of production. The primary constraint was water supply infrastructure, currently only capable of supporting ~400,000 BOPD. Water would be the biggest hurdle in the path of growing above 3 million BOPD of production. Hurdles get hurdled all the time.

  74. cw00p:

    At August 31, 2012 at 7:24 am you ask

    The one thing I noticed in the article and in most of the comments. It appears that people seem to think Romney said, US independence; but he actually said North American energy independence. That would include Canada and Mexico as well. What are the states on energy in those countries as well?

    Mexico and Canada are net energy exporters and each is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. I think you will find all the information you require at these links

    http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=MX

    http://www.neb-one.gc.ca/clf-nsi/rnrgynfmtn/nrgyrprt/nrgyftr/2011/nrgsppldmndprjctn2035-eng.html

    You may want to use some of the links from the URL for the Mexican data.

    I find the Canadian information is an especially concise but comprehensive useful analysis. The analysis at that URL concludes

    Finally, the projections suggest Canadians can expect energy markets to continue to function well. Supplies of oil, natural gas and electricity remain in excess of Canadian requirements for the foreseeable future.

    I hope that is sufficient and what you wanted.

    Richard

  75. to Richards Courtney
    We are maxed out on rigs and personnel presently and many experienced people will be retiring in a few years. Petroleum engineers are not being graduated in enough numbers to increase our production rate. In other words we are limited in our ability to produce oil while demand continues to increase. Also the peak in oil discoveries was in the mid 1960s. Thr Bakken shale oil reserves while large are much more difficult to drill and they produce at a much lower rate per well than with regular wells. Similarly for dep sea oil.

  76. curt lampkin:

    re your post addressed to me at August 31, 2012 at 9:08 am .

    It is possible that there may soon be a shortage of qualified petroleum engineers. If so, then that may delay new oil production while additional engineers are trained. But such a delay would merely be temporary because oil producing companies and countries would pay for the training.

    If the Bakken shale and deep sea oil sources are needed then the technologies will be developed for extraction of those sources.

    Keep posting this stuff if you like, but none of it supports the economically illiterate notion of ‘peak oil’.

    Richard

  77. Technical and economics issues aside, Americans elected Barack Obama into office. Here’s a quote from him during his 2008 campaign:

    “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 gasses, coal power plants, natural gas…you name it…whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retro-fit their operations.

    That will cost money…they will pass that money on to the consumers. You can already see what the arguments are going to be during the general election. People will say Obama and Al Gore …these folks…they’re going to destroy the economy.

    This is going to cost us 8 trillion dollars or whatever their number is.”

    Here’s a link to audio of interview, listen to it in his own words:

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/kerry-picket/2008/11/02/obama-energy-prices-will-skyrocket

  78. richardscourtney says:
    August 31, 2012 at 6:27 am

    Friends:

    Can those using this thread to promote ideas of abiotic oil please explain the relevance – if any – of their pet theory to the subject of this thread.

    ======================================

    Richard, if you are not familiar with the theory of abiotic oil, google “Thomas Gold”. The continental drift fiasco in the 20th century, where a theory proposed by Alfred Wegner was pretty much universally derided by geologists then found to be essentially correct, seems to have injected some humility into the science, So Gold’s work is treated politely by geologists — possibly more politely than it deserves.

    If you are asking what relevance abiotic oil has to immediate energy issues, the answer is probably none.

    (BTW, surely it should be ‘abiotic natural gas’ rather than ‘abiotic oil’ Most of the interior of the Earth is quite warm — outside the “oil window” (very roughly 60C-120C) of temperatures where oil, once formed, is stable and doesn’t break down into natural gas).

  79. curt lampkin says:
    August 31, 2012 at 9:08 am
    to Richards Courtney
    We are maxed out on rigs and personnel presently and many experienced people will be retiring in a few years. Petroleum engineers are not being graduated in enough numbers to increase our production rate. In other words we are limited in our ability to produce oil while demand continues to increase. Also the peak in oil discoveries was in the mid 1960s. Thr Bakken shale oil reserves while large are much more difficult to drill and they produce at a much lower rate per well than with regular wells. Similarly for dep sea oil.

    Rig availability won’t that big of a problem, if a reasonable regulatory environment is restored. The 12-15 rigs that left the Gulf since Macondo will come back if a predictable workload is there and new rigs will be built. Margins tend to be higher here than overseas. Most of those service assets will come back once “rule of law” is restored to permitting and regulation. On the other hand, if Gov. Romney loses, as many as 20 more rigs will head overseas.

    The graying of the industry is a bigger problem. I started in 1981 during a period of expansion. Things slowed down in 1983 and crashed in 1986. The US oil industry was in a state of depression from 1986 through about 1994. There was a brief rebound from 1995-1998 and then a big crash in 1999. I recall commenting that, “less people were being laid off, but this time it seemed like I knew them all.” The lack of college recruiting and the layoffs effectively left the industry with a very narrow age demographic. Almost everyone I know is in their 50’s.

    From an exploration standpoint, the current workforce is far more productive than it was 20-30 years ago. When I started, seismic interpretation and mapping was done by hand on paper and 3d seismic was a novelty. Today, almost everything is done on computer workstations and 3d seismic is the norm. The imaging capabilities are orders of magnitude better than they were just 10 years ago. A staff of 3-4 geo’s in 2012 can carry the workload of a staff of 20 1982 geo’s. But, clearly, the AAPG, SEG and SPE need to “kick it up a notch” when it comes to encouraging students to pursue STEM educations in general and geoscience/petroleum engineering in particular.

  80. Casey Tompkins says:
    August 30, 2012 at 8:39 pm
    Mr.MIddleton,

    In your article I didn’t see reference to refinery capacity. Shouldn’t that be both a subject of concern, as well as a high priority? If memory serves, the US hasn’t built any new refinery capacity since 1974. Also, many of the problems from Katrina came from damaged refineries, as opposed to lack of crude.

    Given an increase in domestic oil production, I would expect a need for more refinery capacity as well.

    US operable refinery capacity currently stands at about 17.7 million barrels per day. In 2011, the average utilization rate in 2011 was 86%.

    While it’s true that no new refineries have been built in the US in decades, the capacity of existing refineries has grown by 13% since 1985. The US has adequate refinery capacity to triple our domestic crude oil production. Last year, US refiners were actually net exporters of refined petroleum products (~734,000 barrels per day).

  81. Don K:

    Yes, I am familiar with Gold’s ideas. I am not capable of assessing if his ideas about abiotic oil and gas have any substance, but I know with absolute certainty that his ideas bout abiotic coal are plain wrong (I was responsible for conducting maceral analysis in the past).

    But as David Middleton explains, whether or not abiotic oil exists has no relevance to the subject of this thread.

    Richard

  82. On the subject of abiotic oil: About 25 years ago I was sitting in a NASA conference room at Marshall Space Flight Center listening to Sir Fred Hoyle expounding his belief that all oil and natural gas in the Solar system is created biotically. One of the NASA guys near me raised his hand and said: “Hey, wait a minute! That would mean the methane on the outer planets and moons was created by living organisms!”

    “Yes, exactly” was Sir Fred’s response. Interesting, but probably not relevant to this thread.

  83. Abiotic methane appears to be abundant on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system. Oil is a far more complex hydrocarbon than CH4.

  84. Romney would be smart to turn the Federal leases over to the States, with intelligent oversight of course, but holding some leases for strategic purposes. The potential revenue to each State would encourage them to help move along the process of energy independence. Build more nuclear, coal and gas plants while encouraging electricity use, where it can replace oil/gasoline, and indepedence could easily be acheived in 20 years and really help to improve the economy. .

  85. Re
    Gail Combs says:
    August 30, 2012 at 2:44 pm
    “Don’t hold your breath that Romney will actually allow more fossil fuel. His statements show he is on the Global warming/CO2 is EVIL bandwagon.

    I wonder how Mitt’s ““North American energy independence” by 2020. fits in with the Bush and Clinton and Obama Administrations commitment to Agenda 21? As far as I can tell all he is doing is repackaging the same old UN totalitarian crap.”
    Gail, Glad you raised this question
    I read through Romney’s plan for energy independence by 2020 and it appears to be an all out effort to develop fossil energy in the US and North America. As I read it Romney has thrown out all the previous commitments to reduce development of fosil fuels to reduce global warming. Did I miss something?
    You do raise an excellent point about the UN agenda which has been hidden from the public. While Obama’s actions appear the support the UN proposition, I find it hard to believe a Republican Senate would ever ratify such a UN Treaty.
    I would like to think that Romney has grown since his comments in 2007, certainly much of the rest of the nation has become aware of the the global warming fraud and there is more balance due to sites such as this one. Global warming does not even appear on the radar today after being a major issue in 2008
    I would love to have the UN issue part of the debate for the election. I doubt the MSM will allow this to be discussed since they don’t want the citizens to know it’s provisions and how we could be sold out.
    For reference the Romney energy plan is indicated below again:

    http://www.mittromney.com/sites/default/files/shared/energy_policy_white_paper_8.23.pdf

  86. Thorium! Thorium is the solution to the energy problem. If I was President, this would be my platform.

  87. Jeff B. says:
    August 31, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Thorium! Thorium is the solution to the energy problem. If I was President, this would be my platform.

    Practical thorium power on a scale sufficient to effect a significant shift from current fuels is probably 20 or more years off, assuming we get serious about it Real Soon Now.

    Global economic collapse is a lot closer. At present trends the US will be Greece in 10 years — perhaps as few as 5. By the time we go over the cliff we’ll be following Britian, France, Italy, Spain and quite likely Germany as well. We’d better find some other way to keep our industrial civilization going in the years between now and whenever thorium power can assume a major role.

    Keeping coal-fired plants operating another 20 years may have some harmful health effects. Throwing another million people out of work will do a lot worse.

    If I were President I would offer a bi-partisan compromise: legalize pot and tax it, start approving oil & gas exploration leases and build the Keystone pipeline. Oh, and tell the NRC they have 180 days to develop and publish regulations governing R&D on commercial thorium reactors.

  88. Another note on the energy efficiency of the Green River oil shale:

    Thr associated natural gas production is expected to be 2.7 MCF per barrel. 1 MCF of gas generates about 100 kWh of electricity. Each barrel of oil will yiled enough gas to generate about 270 kWh of electricity, Each barrel of oil will require 250-300 kWh of electricity to produce. The associated gas will provide at least 90% of the electricty required to produce the oil.

  89. Gail Combs says:
    August 30, 2012 at 2:44 pm
    Don’t hold your breath that Romney will actually allow more fossil fuel. His statements show he is on the Global warming/CO2 is EVIL bandwagon.

    I wonder how Mitt’s ““North American energy independence” by 2020. fits in with the Bush and Clinton and Obama Administrations commitment to Agenda 21? As far as I can tell all he is doing is repackaging the same old UN totalitarian crap.

    Gail,
    Note that the GOP platform has added opposition the the Agenda 21!!
    Do you think the Dem platform will incorporate similar opposition?
    I don’t. See below:

    “One of the new additions to the Republican Party platform is opposition to Agenda 21. In its section on leadership in international organizations, the platform now reads, “We strongly reject the U.N. Agenda 21 as erosive of American sovereignty, and we oppose any form of U.N. Global Tax.” I’m glad they added this language to the platform, but I wonder how many people who voted in favor of this addition know what Agenda 21 is.”

    “Agenda 21 is a plan put forth by the United Nations that seeks to implement “sustainable development.” Nebulous government-speak terms like “smart meters,” “smart growth,” “sustainable communities,” “greenways,” and my personal favorite, “social justice” all have to do with the U.N.’s Agenda 21. On the surface, sure they sound good. Why would we not be in favor of “smart” things and “sustainability?” Why would we not be in favor of “social justice?” They sound like things we could be in favor of, but what do they mean by them?”

    Read more: http://politicaloutcast.com/2012/08/agenda-21-and-why-is-the-gop-now-opposed-to-it/#ixzz25Ev6MKh7

  90. I would strongly disagree with Shells method of in-situ recovery because it leaves too much karogen in the ground. Open pit mining with structured back fill would leave the basin in better shape than it is currently. Near the center of the basin the karogen holding formation is about 2000 feet thick. If we mined the who thing, we would only disturb 350 acres each year to yield 1 million barrels per day.
    The larger problems are with air quality during the winter when inversions set in and trap all of the particulates and pollution.

  91. @Pathway Here’s an idea, take tunnel borer technology and turn it on its head. Drill massive vertical shafts into the formation then when they hit bottom, pull the borer out and backfill the hole with the remains of the processed rock. Place some blasting charges along the hole’s sides so that after a section is mined as much as possible, the ‘webs’ between the bore holes can be broken up.

  92. Why wait until 2020? A good war in the Middle East would guaranty energetic independance within months! Shales and quite a few renewables would instantly become competitive and consumption would also fall quite drastically as prices rise until… demand meets production on the way down. But whatever the scenario, 2 dollar per gallon is not coming back. Unless a huge pool of abiotic sludge is found under congress.

  93. Is it possible that oil is actually not a fossil fuel? I’ve often wondered at the enormous volume of oil that exists in the earth and have trouble reconciling this huge volume with how much life on earth has possibly existed in the millions of years of earth’s history. It just seems like there’s too much oil for it to all have come from organic life.

    But then again, I’ve never analyzed the numbers in any detail.

  94. Dispelling one more enviro-fraud – Water and the Athabasca Oilsands

    The Athabasca River is one of the most regulated streams on the planet. The radical enviros have tried to claim this river is in terrible danger, and have even alleged that the river is horribly contaminated due to development of the Athabasca oilsands. This is false.

    The Athabasca River naturally cuts through the Athabasca oilsands and is in direct contact with the oilsands deposits. It has been this way for millennia. The river is exposed to some natural contamination from the oilsands and some possible minor industrial contamination, but it is intensely monitored for water quality. Furthermore, Athabasca River water quality monitoring is being intensified.

    One of my favorite alarmist stories is how the water demands of the Athabasca oilsands are “draining the river dry”. One professor even held a conference called “Running Out of Steam”. One would assume that the oilsands industry must drain well over 50% of the Athabasca river’s flow, perhaps even 70%, 80% or even 90%!

    In fact, the entire Athabasca oilsands industry consumes just 1% of annual Athabasca river flow. In comparison, the monthly river flow in a typical high-flow Spring month is ten times (1000%) that of a typical low-flow winter month, and yet the fish survive that huge variation in their natural habitat with apparent ease.

    The truth is the river habitat is materially unaffected by oilsands water withdrawals, especially since these water withdrawals are curtailed during periods of low river flow.

    Another great enviro-fraud was the alleged mutant “two-jawed fish” found in Lake Athabasca – in fact it was a normal dead goldeye, in a normal state of decay.

    One should be very skeptical of the scary claims of the environmental movement – in my experience, the claims of the radical enviros over recent decades have all proven to be wildly overstated and fundamentally false.

  95. Just some guy:

    At September 2, 2012 at 7:35 am ypu suggest

    It just seems like there’s too much oil for it to all have come from organic life.

    Think how much limestone exists. That comes from organic life.

    Richard

  96. At August 30, 2012 at 4:16 pm Doug Proctor said:

    2. Strategic. Should we develop our own, North American reserves at this time or should we produce the Mid-East/OPEC supplies first? Using up the Mid-East surplices of our troubling friends means that down the road they may be less troubling than today. At which point we can develop our own.

    Paying ourselves is better economically than paying others. However, there may be a larger net benefit if those who wish to disturb the world have less to disturb the world with as time goes by.

    ———————————————————

    Well said. Arguably the most important consideration in this entire discussion as blinkered fanaticism will exist for generations yet.

  97. David Middleton wrote the following were not evidence of abiotic oil:
    “The Dnieper-Donets basin.
    The fractured granite reservoirs of the Cuu Long basin.
    Eugene Island Block 330 oil field.
    The ultra-deepwater Lower Tertiary play in the Gulf of Mexico.
    The deep subsalt plays offshore Brazil.
    Lost City.
    The Saturnian moon Titan”

    Mr. Middleton offers these examples, often cited by abiotic oil supporters, and declares they are not evidence of abiotic oil (with no supporting reasons or argument).

    With due respect to the valuble contributions to the discussions via Mr. Middleton’s posts on Watts Up With That?, those are all field observations which do support Abiotic Oil Theory.

    Mr. Middleton disagrees with the conclusions of other scientists and observers these are evidences of abiotic oil production in the Earth’s crust, but his statement is slightly misleading because he fails to acknowledge many others do agree the above field observations support the conclusion of abiotic oil production in the Earth’s crust.

    Due to the build up of scientific evidence supporting Abiotic Oil Theory, many oil geologists who subscribe to the “fossil” theory, acknowledge abiotic oil is produced here on Earth, but claim it is only produced in small amounts. But, if petroleum is produced via the Fischer-Tropsch Type process, the Fischer-Tropsch process known as the serpentinite mechanism or the serpentinite process, a geo-chemical process (a well constrained and quantified process, not “mythical” at all), then what is the limiting factor? That is never answered because there is no limiting factor beyond the availability of the building block elements in the Earth’s crust.

    Just one example of an oil geologist who supports abiotic oil theory: Peter Szatmari, an oil geologist, who works for Petrobas, the Brazilian state oil company, and it was Szatmari who predicted there would be oil offshore of Brazil in a 1989 scientific paper, based on abiotic oil principles, and yes, subsequently oil was found in world-class deposits right where Szatmari predicted.

    Szatmari noted in his 1989 paper that Fischer-Tropsch synthetic oil matches the hydrocarbon distribution profile of of Saudi Arabian oil fields.

    Petroleum Formation by Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis in Plate Tectonics, by Peter Szatmari (1989)

    Szatmari wrote:
    “COMPARISON OF NATURAL AND SYNTHETIC OILS
    Several constituents of petroluem indicate that it may have formed by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. Crude oils, like oils produced by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, are mixtures of a very large number of hydrocarbon compounds whose chain length ranges from one (methane) to many carbon atoms. In petroleum, as in the products of Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, the number of molecules systematically decreases with increasing number of carbon atoms, reflecting the probabilities of chain growth and chain termination that characterize any polymerization process (Schulz-Flory distribution) (Figure 1). Early studies by Robinson (1963) and Friedel and Sharkey (1963, 1968) indicate that the distribution of normal and isoparaffins in crude oil follows the chain-growth and chain-branching probabilities of the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis.”

    Szatmari wrote:
    “Friedel and Sharkey (1963, 1968) found that the two parameters of the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis — the probability of chain lengthening and that of chain branching — accurately predict the abundance of isomers in Saudi Arabian oil, suggesting that it formed by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and not by thermal breakdown of fossil organic matter.”

    Perhaps, Mr. Middleton would like to review Szatmari’s scientific paper:

    Remember, Szatmari predicted the Brazilian offshore oil deposits using abiotic principles when nobody else thought there could be oil in those geological conditions using the “fossil” theory model.

  98. Allan MacRae says:
    September 2, 2012 at 9:28 am
    Dispelling one more enviro-fraud – Water and the Athabasca Oilsands

    The Athabasca River is one of the most regulated streams on the planet. The radical enviros have tried to claim this river is in terrible danger, and have even alleged that the river is horribly contaminated due to development of the Athabasca oilsands. This is false.

    Thanks Allan.
    As one who worked on the engineering and startup of the second oil sands plant comissioned in the late 70’s I am saddened by the propagandaa and mis information spread by Pelosi and the enviro’s on the commercial viability of energy from the oil sands. They will lie about anything in their attempt to mislead the public
    During my one year site stint, having fished the banks of the Athabasca River, I can personally attest to the fact that nature has left tar ball all over the banks. And yes we ate the pike fish that I caught from those banks covered with tar over 30 years ago.
    That plant was built when crude was circa $12/bbl and it has been expanded many times with a third train recently added.
    The local jobs created as well as jobs throughout North America has been huge. In the early days much of the equipment and engineering was provided by the US and contributed the the US economy as well as Canada.
    One post here erroneously noted that the energy out was handicapped by the coke created.
    In reality the coke piles are effectively an energy storage mechanism since the coke will ultimately be turned into useable energy when the economics favors such. Technology currently exists to convert the coke to useable energy (gasification, etc) and new technologyies are under development to improve the efficiencies.
    The project I wworked on shipped a clean, desulfurized synthetic crude to refineries to the South. Not the gooey tar claimed by the misinformation team.

    Mr Middleton, thanks for your thorough investigation that puts to bed all the misinformation generated regarding the capability of North America to become essentially energy independent. Even if we were not 100% independent wouldn’t 90% be a big improvement?
    The canards raised by some simply represent their disapointment that the government needs to throttle our energy usage arising from a fabricated shortage by the “leaders” and make us dependent on a non existant renewable green energy.
    One laughable post was that the US Refinery capacity cannot process the US produced Crude so why bother?
    Don’t they know that for a large part many, especially on the east cost, are already running expensive foreign crude and being run out of business by foreign refineries exporting product to the US. Refineries in the Delaware river are being shut down by the EPA and they cannot compete with imported product by running expensive imported foreign crude due to excessive regulations!!

    Finally the contribution to the US treasury via lease sales, royalties, and job creation would be enormous beyond any other scheme on the table to help balance the budget.
    Keep in mind that except for the last few years, the greatest contribution to the US treasury after income taxes has been royalties and lease sales from oil/gas.

  99. Don Shaw says: September 2, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    Great comments, thank you Don. I presume you are talking about the construction of the Syncrude project in the 1970’s.

    I was onsite at Syncrude in summer 1977 when the first big dragline (a Marion, I recall) took its first bite at Syncrude.

    Years later, I was Manager of Oilsands for CanadianOxy (now Nexen), responsible for our interests in the Syncrude, OSLO and PCEJ projects.

    Because of the Athabasca oilsands, Canada now has the strongest economy in the G8, is the largest foreign supplier of crude oil to the USA, and is the 6th largest crude oil producer in the world.

    Regarding the success of the Athabasca oilsands, please see http://www.OilsandsExpert.com

    I am now primarily devoted to other energy endeavours, but am generally pleased with what we achieved in the oilsands.

    Best regards, Allan

  100. I hardly know where to start with David’s analysis. Is he in the business of producing such forecasts? His look like literally no one else’s, not the EIA, IEA, Citi’s, CERA’s, PIRA’s, or any of the leading lights over at the Oil Drum.

    The utilization rate for drillships and semisubmersibles in the Gulf of Mexico today approaches 100%. So the permatorium is over. Notwithstanding, if you look out at the actual project schedules for the Gulf to the visible horizon, there’s nothing there that really moves the production needle up much. Citi is bullish about the Gulf, but who else?

    Alaska deserves more treatment than it gets here. Shell is looking to re-fill the Trans Alaska Pipeline, which would represent an incremental 1.4 mbpd. This is an important project, but I seriously doubt another such pipeline will ever be built; thus 2.1 mbpd–the capacity of the pipleine–would largely represent the maximum of Alaskan production.

    I see no separate analysis for US shale/tight oil which is the driver of US production growth. There are a number of very important basins here–but no discussion of these. Nor is there any discussion of the decline rates of these–which are formidable.

    No one has figured out how to exploit kerogen (oil shale) resources economically. We do know, however, the pace of Canadian oil sands rollout, in part because the Canadians meticulously document production there, and because CAPP (the Canadian Association of Oil Producers) has forecasts out to 2020. These show an annual increase of about 150 kbpd–nice, but nothing earth shattering. The infrastruture requirements for oil shales, GTL, CTL and oil sands are simply huge. They take decades to roll out. For example, Shell’s huge Pearl GTL plant in Qatar consumers the equivalent of 2% of US natural gas consumption. It produces 250 kbpd of liquids–equal to about 0.3% of global liquids production. (Here’s a photo: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-torDvhYhc6s/TaQoTS-bs-I/AAAAAAAABCs/tfWok0V91Qc/s1600/069-b.jpg&imgrefurl=http://duniandt.blogspot.com/2011/04/pearl-gtl-worlds-largest-gas-to-liquids.html&h=1065&w=1600&sz=291&tbnid=LfuQlMNt5vWZ9M:&tbnh=74&tbnw=111&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dpearl%2Bgtl%2Bpicture%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=pearl+gtl+picture&usg=__akpUyHobdLH3E-CIC55Uze7pXu4=&sa=X&ei=D6pEUL34JIWt0QW32oGwDw&ved=0CDgQ9QEwBw&dur=5729)

    Finally, I am stunned by using “undiscovered but technically recoverable resources” as the basis for any sort of serious forecasting. The API has many good qualities, but please keep in mind that it is a trade association involved in lobbying Congress and the White House for favorable treatment for its industry. And I need hardly note that the USGS recently downgraded Alaskan oil resources by 90%. “Undiscovered” means we don’t know if the resource is actually there; and “technically recoverable” means that we’re not sure we can recover the resource economically. Oil shale–kerogen–is an example. The resource has been well known for decades; it’s still not clear that it’s economically recoverable.

    If there is so much oil, we are we spending so much time talking about junk. Oil sands are junk; shale / tight oils are junk; deepwater is (very elegant) junk; Arctic is (very cool and exotic) junk. Kerogen is mega-junk. These are all places we only go because we have to. Why are the Saudi’s compelled to turn to heavy oil and offshore resources if there oil supply is in such good shape? Why is Chevron doing a large scale EOR project in Kuwait if the country has so much oil? Ditto for UAE and Bahrain. Why are the Norwegians forced to the Arctic circle? Why are we talking about GTL and CTL, which are literally the technologies of wartime German and embargoed, apartheid South Africa.

    We turn to these resources when the easy sources of oil are gone. These second and third tier resources may still produce a large amount of oil; but we are clearly beyond the era of cheap oil. It’s not 1970 anymore. Indeed, it’s not even 2004 anymore.

    If David’s going to take on the topic, I would suggest smaller pieces researched more tightly. If you want to read the work of a pro, try Heading Out over at the Oil Drum. There’s a guy who knows how to write about the oil business.

  101. Allan,
    I have recently consulted with ETX who are looking at processing the coke from the oil sands.
    Are you familiar with them?

  102. Steven,
    There are so many errors in your post that it is difficult to address all of them. Some comments below. Your comments calling significant oil production sources junk is a joke:
    Canada is currently producing ~ 1 million barrels of oil per day from Athabasca oil sand deposits. They expect to increase that to 2 million barrels per day over the next decade.
    US consumption is about 19 million barrels a day so 5% -10% of our use is junk?
    What is junk is the decision to stop the Keystone Pipeline because it threatens the claim that we are running out of oil.

    You indicate that the API is a trade organization. Did you realize that it does a lot more more than lobbying? Look below and you will find that it provides a lot of publications, standards, and certification functions that make the industry safer for all. I have personally used some of their standards to design critical equipment. See their web site below. Of course they also attempt to prevent the suicidal government actions that would restrict the supply of our energy needs.

    http://www.api.org/

    You indicate that “The utilization rate for drillships and semisubmersibles in the Gulf of Mexico today approaches 100%. ” really?? Possibly you can explain why the Administration’s illegal moratorium on drilling chased away almost a dozen drilling rigs to foreign countries. Just one example of a recent reported find in the Gulf:
    “NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — ExxonMobil announced on Wednesday that it struck oil in the Gulf of Mexico, a discovery that could yield 700 million barrels.”

  103. Don Shaw says: September 3, 2012 at 6:40 am
    “I have recently consulted with ETX who are looking at processing the coke from the oil sands.”

    Sorry Don – I do not know them, but just had a quick look at their website.

  104. Hi Galane,

    The problem is that coke produced from bitumen upgrading has a high Sulphur content that limits its commercial uses.

    The coke can be burnt for onsite energy in a fluidized bed boiler (FBB) with crushed limestone that absorbs the Sulphur, but with natural gas costing $2-3/GJ this is probably not economic.

    Also, when we looked at FBB in the late 1980’s, anti-CO2 hysteria was not yet in fashion. As you can appreciate, an FBB burning coke produces similar CO2 to a coal-burning boiler. It would be a much more difficult proposition to propose a FBB now, since CO2 has been demonized by global warming alarmists.

    (Plant) Food for Thought:

    One reasonable scenario for the end of life on Earth is insufficient atmospheric CO2 to support photosynthesis, as CO2 is permanently sequestered in carbonate rocks, hydrocarbons, coals, etc.

    Since life on Earth could actually end due to CO2 starvation, should we be paying energy companies to burn fossil fuels to increase atmospheric CO2, instead of fining them due to the false belief that CO2 from fossil fuel combustion causes catastrophic global warming?

    Could T.S. Eliot have been thinking about CO2 starvation when he wrote:
    “This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper.”

    Regards, Allan :-)

  105. I appreciated this article by David Middleton.

    The energy picture in North America is certainly changing.

    The game-changing move to producing shale gas in North America has reduced natural gas prices to about $3/GJ, or one-fifth the energy-equivalent price of oil. There is a strong expectation in some quarters that similar technologies can be used to economically produce shale oil. We’ll see how well this works and how much this costs.

    It is notable that few energy analysts foresaw the huge reduction in natural gas prices that resulted from fracking gassy shales. Shale gas has changed our energy industry and given North America a huge competitive advantage in energy costs that could help to revitalize our economy.

    Because of the Athabasca oilsands, Canada now has the strongest economy in the G8, is the largest foreign supplier of crude oil to the USA, and is the 6th largest crude oil producer in the world.

    The “overnight success” of the Athabasca oilsands took about 100 years to achieve. The first large commercial surface mining project (now called Suncor) was brought onstream in ~1967 and the second (Syncrude) in 1978. The Athabasca oilsands industry was then moribund for about two decades – many projects were planned and shelved, in large part due to misguided government policies at the federal and provincial levels.

    The game-change in the Athabasca oilsands industry came in 1997 when new tax and royalty terms were announced that reflected the economically marginal nature of the oilsands. Again, these were overnight successes that took about a decade to achieve. I personally co-initiated the move to new oilsands tax terms in 1985, and initiated the move to new oilsands royalty terms in 1988, both through the Syncrude Management Committee.

    These new fiscal terms enabled the investor to recover his capital investment before significant profit-sharing with governments occurred, thereby significantly improving the rate of return for the investor in these economically marginal projects. After capital recovery, industry and governments shared profits about 50:50.

    The 1997 fiscal terms were significantly revised in ~2008, and I expect this move (foolish, imo) will discourage new grassroots project investments in the oilsands.

    The other game-change in the oilsands was the development through AOSTRA of SAGD in-situ technology, which enabled the economic recovery of the huge in-situ deposits of Athabasca bitumen that were too deep for surface mining. The very low price of natural gas is probably enabling poor energy fundamentals in some in-situ oilsands projects.

    The lesson from this brief treatise is that both technological breakthroughs AND sensible government policies are needed to revitalize the North American energy industry.

    I believe North American energy self-sufficiency is achievable IF these lessons are sensibly applied.

    Cheap abundant energy was one of the primary drivers that built America. I believe America CAN re-build its economy, and I further believe it is vital for humanity that you do so.

    America is still the greatest protector of human rights on our planet.

  106. James F. Evans says:
    September 2, 2012 at 1:16 pm
    David Middleton wrote the following were not evidence of abiotic oil:
    “The Dnieper-Donets basin.
    The fractured granite reservoirs of the Cuu Long basin.
    Eugene Island Block 330 oil field.
    The ultra-deepwater Lower Tertiary play in the Gulf of Mexico.
    The deep subsalt plays offshore Brazil.
    Lost City.
    The Saturnian moon Titan”

    Mr. Middleton offers these examples, often cited by abiotic oil supporters, and declares they are not evidence of abiotic oil (with no supporting reasons or argument).

    With due respect to the valuble contributions to the discussions via Mr. Middleton’s posts on Watts Up With That?, those are all field observations which do support Abiotic Oil Theory.

    Mr. Middleton disagrees with the conclusions of other scientists and observers these are evidences of abiotic oil production in the Earth’s crust, but his statement is slightly misleading because he fails to acknowledge many others do agree the above field observations support the conclusion of abiotic oil production in the Earth’s crust.

    Due to the build up of scientific evidence supporting Abiotic Oil Theory, many oil geologists who subscribe to the “fossil” theory, acknowledge abiotic oil is produced here on Earth, but claim it is only produced in small amounts. But, if petroleum is produced via the Fischer-Tropsch Type process, the Fischer-Tropsch process known as the serpentinite mechanism or the serpentinite process, a geo-chemical process (a well constrained and quantified process, not “mythical” at all), then what is the limiting factor? That is never answered because there is no limiting factor beyond the availability of the building block elements in the Earth’s crust.

    Just one example of an oil geologist who supports abiotic oil theory: Peter Szatmari, an oil geologist, who works for Petrobas, the Brazilian state oil company, and it was Szatmari who predicted there would be oil offshore of Brazil in a 1989 scientific paper, based on abiotic oil principles, and yes, subsequently oil was found in world-class deposits right where Szatmari predicted.

    Szatmari noted in his 1989 paper that Fischer-Tropsch synthetic oil matches the hydrocarbon distribution profile of of Saudi Arabian oil fields.

    Petroleum Formation by Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis in Plate Tectonics, by Peter Szatmari (1989)

    Szatmari wrote:
    “COMPARISON OF NATURAL AND SYNTHETIC OILS
    Several constituents of petroluem indicate that it may have formed by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. Crude oils, like oils produced by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, are mixtures of a very large number of hydrocarbon compounds whose chain length ranges from one (methane) to many carbon atoms. In petroleum, as in the products of Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, the number of molecules systematically decreases with increasing number of carbon atoms, reflecting the probabilities of chain growth and chain termination that characterize any polymerization process (Schulz-Flory distribution) (Figure 1). Early studies by Robinson (1963) and Friedel and Sharkey (1963, 1968) indicate that the distribution of normal and isoparaffins in crude oil follows the chain-growth and chain-branching probabilities of the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis.”

    Szatmari wrote:
    “Friedel and Sharkey (1963, 1968) found that the two parameters of the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis — the probability of chain lengthening and that of chain branching — accurately predict the abundance of isomers in Saudi Arabian oil, suggesting that it formed by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and not by thermal breakdown of fossil organic matter.”

    Perhaps, Mr. Middleton would like to review Szatmari’s scientific paper:

    Remember, Szatmari predicted the Brazilian offshore oil deposits using abiotic principles when nobody else thought there could be oil in those geological conditions using the “fossil” theory model.

    “Evidence” of significant volumes of abiotic oil would consist of a significant volume of oil in a setting in which there was no sedimentary source rocks present. No examples of such exist anywhere on Earth or, as far as we know, in the solar system.

    “The Dnieper-Donets basin is often cited as an example of abiotic oil due to a lack of source rocks. This is simply wrong: Petroleum Geology and Resources of the Dnieper-Donets Basin, Ukraine and Russia.

    The fractured granite reservoirs of the Cuu Long basin are often cited as an example of abiotic oil because oil is produced from fractured basement (granite) rocks. Oil is produced from Oligocene granite wash (yellow/green) on the flanks and top of a granitic diapir (pink) and from Miocene-Oligocene sandstones above the diapir. Oil is also produced from fractures in the granite (black/dark gray). The Oligocene shale (lighter gray with dashes) between the granite and the Miocene-Oligocene sandstones is loaded with organic matter. The oil that is produced from the granite wash, granite fractures and the shallower sandstones is geochemically indistinguishable and can be matched to the organic rich shale source rock. Petroleum Geology of Cuu Long Basin – Offshore Vietnam. The biotic hypothesis says that the oil formed in the shale and then migrated into the granite wash, granite fractures and overlying sandstone. The abiotic hypothesis says that the oil formed in the mantle and migrated up through the granite and then into the sedimentary rocks above and around the diapir, leached organic matter out of the shale and migrated back into the granite.

    Eugene Island Block 330 oil field is often cited as an example of abiotic oil because some reservoirs produced more oil that the volumetric analyses predicted. This happens all the time. Almost all reservoirs produce more or less oil than we predict. Our ability to accurately calculate reservoir volumes are limited to well control (often sparse) and seismic data (often of too low resolution). The abiotic stories about EI330 are nothing less than fantasies of science fiction. Eugene Island Block 330 Field–U.S.A. Offshore Louisiana. The “mysterious” increase in production from EI330 was the result of drilling.

    EI330 Production Rates
    EI330 Oil Production and Well Completions

    The ultra-deepwater Lower Tertiary play in the Gulf of Mexico and the deep subsalt plays offshore Brazil are often cited as examples of abiotic oil because the reservoirs are supposedly too deep, too hot and/or too highly pressured to be in the oil window. This is simply abject nonsense…

    Subsalt seen as promising exploration frontier for Brazil
    He argues that “up to some time ago, Petrobras believed that the subsalt rocks were too compacted, without permeability. However, with the confirmation of the Santos basin discovery, it was proved that the salt layer acts as a cushion for the compaction as well as for temperature.”

    Tabular salt acts like a radiator. It conducts heat away from the substrata toward the surface. The combination of thick layers of salt and deep water depths enable oil to exist at depths previously unexpected. Salt and water are also less dense than most other overburden. This enables reservoir quality rocks to exist at deeper depths than previously expected.

    The discovery well for the Cascade Field on WR 206 TD’ed with 15 pound mud at about 19,000’ below the seafloor (about -27,800 below sea level). 15 pounds at that depth is normally pressured. The bottomhole temperature was 246°F (~120°C), well within the oil window.
    Lost City and the Saturnian moon Titan are often cited as evidence of abiotic oil because they are evidence of abiotic methane. CH4 ≠Oil. When a mud log show consists solely of methane (C1’s), the hydrocarbons will generally consist of dry natural gas, with little or no liquids.

  107. Steven Kopits says:
    September 3, 2012 at 6:26 am
    I hardly know where to start with David’s analysis. Is he in the business of producing such forecasts? His look like literally no one else’s, not the EIA, IEA, Citi’s, CERA’s, PIRA’s, or any of the leading lights over at the Oil Drum.

    The utilization rate for drillships and semisubmersibles in the Gulf of Mexico today approaches 100%. So the permatorium is over. Notwithstanding, if you look out at the actual project schedules for the Gulf to the visible horizon, there’s nothing there that really moves the production needle up much. Citi is bullish about the Gulf, but who else?

    […]

    If you bothered to read the post prior to commenting, you might have noted that I was not forecasting production. I clearly stated that I was looking at the technical feasibility and not the economic advisability or politic al achievability.

    Your comments on the Gulf of Mexico are amazingly ignorant. The “permitorium” is still in full effect. Simple applications, like development plans (DOCD’S) are being delayed by 10 months or more. The permitorium is forcing drilling contractors to relocate rigs overseas.

    Gulf of Mexico rig count ‘unsustainable’ without quicker permits: FBR
    Washington (Platts)–7Sep2011/315 pm EDT/1915 GMT

    Twenty deepwater drilling rigs would leave the Gulf of Mexico if US regulators do not accelerate permitting, investment bank FBR Capital Markets said Wednesday.

    The analysts blamed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement’s sluggish pace on higher safety standards enacted after the BP Macondo well blowout in April 2010, not politics.

    “Rather than being political, the GOM permitting drag is more reflective of the increased work required to issue each permit and the limited bureaucratic resources available,” the report said. “As a result, we continue to expect continued slow recovery of the deepwater permitting rate.”

    […]

    FBR called the active rig count — 20 at the end of August — “unsustainable” at the current pace of permit approvals. The Gulf of Mexico stands to lose eight to 20 rigs — eight if permitting speeds up and 20 if the pace stays the same.

    The report said the backlog of permits approved, but not acted upon needs to reach about 60 to support an active rig count of 20. Between 2006 and 2010, the industry had about three times the number of permits waiting for action than the number of deepwater rigs at work.

    […]

    The utilization rate for deepwater rigs & drillships is high, because 12 have left the Gulf since June 2010. If the permitorium continues, 20 more may leave the Gulf.

    In response to, “there’s nothing there that really moves the production needle up much”… Two years ago, the MMS forecasted that Gulf of Mexico oil production would 1.8 million barrels per day by 2013, much of that from the Lower Tertiary. That would move the needle up by almost 50% above the current ~1.3 million BOPD. Production from the Lower Tertiary discoveries was expected to begin in 2010. The first oil production from Petrobras’ Chinook-Cascade Field just commenced in February 2012.

    There have been 28 discoveries in the Lower Tertiary trend in Alaminos Canyon, Keathley Canyon and Walker Ridge areas since 2001. At least five of these discoveries will be on production within the next few years. The facilities will have an average production capacity of more than 100,000 BOPD. This will move the needle up. This play is in its infancy.

  108. Don Shaw. If the EPA is preventing use of USA based refineries, then perhaps the answer is to build some abroad, but not too far away ie. Mexico, or British or Dutch Caribbean territories.

  109. Those dreaming of Thorium nuclear reactors ignore the cost and more importantly the TIME it takes to design, develop, Certify and License a new Fission reactor technology. If you seriously started tomorrow, and nothing really exists except very preliminary proposals, is based on experience, about 25 years from tomorrow. Fusion reactors having no ability to run-away, nor a large repository of highly radioactive materials to contain, should license in about half to a third of the time.

    But Fusion is still not ready, although it is getting very close. The scintific Physics problems are about doen, while the engineering problems exists to be solved, but that is mere engineering. The ITER scientists privately admit that every single thing that was to be discovered and developed at ITER, has already been accomplished piecemeal, around the World in smaller facilities, while the ITER has been on-again, off- again; and under-funded by the Greens seeking the dollars for their pet stupidities.

    In any case the ITER scientists want to start designing the second proto-type Fusion reactor, aka DEMO, and the first to add electricity to the Grid, starting about 2017, five years from now, and a year or two before the ITER is even finished. It would likely go into service about the same time as a Thorium reactor would.

    BTW, Fusion reactors can safely convert long term highly radiaoctive wastes to short lived radioactves even betterand more safely than Thorium Fission reactors can do so. They would convert the more stable trans-Uranics, the odd atomic number isotopes, that the French can’t crack in their Actinide Burning in their existing LWRs. We have plenty of experience guarding things like gold stores for hundreds of years which would be longer than we need to guard all the Actinide Burned radiaoctive wastes, until they are no longer dangerous.

  110. David Middleton:

    Thank you, I appreciate the answer. It is important to have dialogue, particularly when there is disagreement. I realize this thread is now long on the tooth, but I will give quick rebuttal. I don’t expect an answer, this for the record and for you to think about, assuming while you are reasonably sceptical, you still have an open-mind.

    Middleton wrote: “Evidence” of significant volumes of abiotic oil would consist of a significant volume of oil in a setting in which there was no sedimentary source rocks present. No examples of such exist anywhere on Earth or, as far as we know, in the solar system.”

    You make an a priori assumption that so-called “source rock” is the source of petroleum, but upon detailed investigation, it becomes apparent “source rock” can be explained with as much satisfaction, if not more satisfaction using abiotic principles.

    Middleton: wrote: “The Dnieper-Donets basin is often cited as an example of abiotic oil due to a lack of source rocks. This is simply wrong: Petroleum Geology and Resources of the Dnieper-Donets Basin, Ukraine and Russia.”

    False, nobody claim there isn’t sandstone, sedimentary rocks within the Dnieper-Donets basin with heavy hydrocarbons, C215H330. There are two major reasons for why it is cited as evidence for Abiotic Oil Theory:

    1.) There are multiple instances of petroleum being recovered from the crystalline basement below any so-called “source rock”, which in reality is simply porus rock, sedimentary, where heavy hydrocarbons are present, which is entirely consistent with the abiotic concept that as abiotic oil rises through vertical conduits, faults and fractures, a portion of the heavy hydrocarbon component of the petroleum drops out and lodges in those porus rocks (“fossil” theory explains the heavy hydrocarbons are produced by the so-called “diogenesis” process where organic detritus is turned into heavy hydrocarbons, so-called “kerogen”, actually C215H330, but “diogenesis” has never been demonstrated in the laboratory and there is no chemical pathway description, rather it is an unproven, a priori assumption, or as Mr. Middleton puts it, a “mythical” process).

    2.) The oil recovered from the crystalline basement has no evidence of organic detritus or so-called “bio-markers”.

    From the scientific paper The Drilling & Development of the Oil & Gas Fields in the Dnieper-Donetsk Basin, V. A. Krayushkin, T. I. Tchebanenko, V. P. Klochko, Ye. S. Dvoryanin, Institute of Geological Sciences, O. Gonchara Street 55-B, 01054 Kiev, Ukraine, J. F. Kenney, Russian Academy of Sciences – Joint Institute of The Physics of the Earth, Moscow, Russia (2001).

    Observation of petroleum in the crystalline basement:

    “Production from the Precambrian crystalline basement: In addition to these reservoirs in the sedimentary rock, above, the exploration drilling has discovered five reservoirs in the Precambrian crystalline basement rock complex at depths ranging from several meters to 200 meters below the top of the crystalline basement.”

    “The trapping strata for the reservoirs in the Carboniferous period sandstones are shallower shale formations, as is typical for sedimentary reservoirs. The trapping strata for the reservoirs in the Precambrian crystalline basement are impervious, non-fractured, essentially horizontal zones of crystalline rock which alternate with the fractured, uncompacted, bed-like zones of granite and amphibolite. An example of the “stacking of the petroleum reservoirs is shown in Fig. 2 for the Yuliyevskoye oil and gas field.”

    Observation of the lack of so-called “biomarkers” in the oil recovered from the crystalline basement:

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

    Middleton wrote: “The fractured granite reservoirs of the Cuu Long basin [White Tiger offshore oil field, Vietnam] are often cited as an example of abiotic oil because oil is produced from fractured basement (granite) rocks. Oil is produced from Oligocene granite wash (yellow/green) on the flanks and top of a granitic diapir (pink) and from Miocene-Oligocene sandstones above the diapir. Oil is also produced from fractures in the granite (black/dark gray).”

    Yes, oil is produced from the fractures in the granite, as much as a thousand feet below the top of the fractures in the granite, which is a deep “rift” or fault, part of a rifted horst crystalline basement, which would act as a vertical conduit for abiotic sourced oil to rise up through.

    Mr. Middleton claims, “Oil is produced from Oligocene granite wash (yellow/green) on the flanks and top of a granitic diapir (pink) and from Miocene-Oligocene sandstones above the diapir.” But this statement is misleading, giving the impression equal amounts of oil are recovered from the surrounding ‘wash’ and ‘sandstone’ above the diapir. Rather, as the Search and Discovery paper cited by Mr. Middleton states, most oil is from the deep, ‘rift’ fracture, itself:

    “In spite of some discoveries in the Oligocene-Miocene clastics and volcanic sections, fractured granite basement is still the main target of Cuu Long basin. Tectonic activities play a key role in creating and enhancing the fractures in the basement. Five major oil fields produce predominantly from the basement [from within the faults].”

    Several characteristics of the faults and the petroleum recovered are significant:
    From the Search and Discovery:

    “The tops of these basement structures are usually at 2500 to 3000 mss with about 1000-1500 m [meters] oil column.”

    The oil column is extraordinarily tall, typically in the oil industry these are called “pay zone”.

    A large “pay zone” can be 300 feet, many are much shorter, reflecting the thickness of the sedimentary layer the oil is trapped in, but, here, it is over 3000 feet, (3,280 – 4,900 feet) in depth (once oil has been contacted), and that reflects the depth of the fault or ‘rift’, the extreme height of the oil columns is because the oil runs the full length of narrow vertical faults within the rifted horst, whereas, in average sedimentary oil deposits, the oil column is in the shape of a horizontal plane trapped below a horizontal cap rock that acts to seal the hydrocarbons in and prevent further rising within the stratigraphic column, so this is no ordinary oil column.

    Again, from the Search and Discovery paper:

    “However, the tectonic activity and the hydrothermal processes are practically the main factors that control the porosity of the fracture systems.”

    Hydrothermal systems have been identified as associated with oil deposits and specifically identified as an abiotic system where petroleum is formed by Fisher-Tropsch Type processes.

    (Which has already been discussed and a scientific paper presented and linked to without any comment or objection from Mr. Middleton.)

    Hydrothermal Hydrocarbons, Stanley B. Keith and Monte M. Swan (2005):

    “[Abiotic]…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

    (Another excellent paper for Mr. Middleton to review.)

    Again, from the Search and Discovery paper presented by Mr. Middleton:

    “This is the deepest basement structure in Cuu Long basin that has found oil. The DST flow rates from the main producing zone (4430 mss) are 2600 bopd, 6.8 mmscfgd, without water.”

    There is no highlight, but the notation, “without water” is very significant in terms of Abiotic Oil Theory. Typically oil is extracted with an accompaning ‘oil field brine’ a mix of water and oil (the water and oil are seperated after extraction) and various trace minerals and salt water (in Louisanna, ‘oil field brine’ extracted from around salt domes can have lead and strontium as trace metals). But in the White Tiger, Vietnam oil field there is no water, only pure petroleum.

    Why is that significant?

    Because water penetrates to the deepest part of any stratigraphic column as water is heavier than oil — oil floats on water.

    “Whether naphta was formed by organic matter is very doubtful, as it is found in the most ancient Silurian [Ordovician] strata which correspond with the epochs of the earth’s existence when there was very little organic matter; it could not penetrate from the higher to the lower (more ancient) strata as it floats on water (and water penetrates through all strata).” — Dmitri Mendeleyev, chemist, 1877

    If “water penetrates through all strata”, then, necessarily, if fluid (hydrocarbons) was penetrating from the “Upper Oligocene shale that is present throughout the basin and the Lower Oligocene interbedded shale” into the fractured rift network of the basement horst, water also would be penetrating into the rift fracture network. It could not be otherwise, yet in this case the hydrocarbons are specifically described flowing from the producing zone “without water”.

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “The abiotic hypothesis says that the oil formed in the mantle and migrated up through the granite and then into the sedimentary rocks above and around the diapir, leached organic matter out of the shale and migrated back into the granite.”

    First, the Fischer-Tropsch Type formation process referred to here several times with one scientific paper and one lengthy abstract of a scientific paper don’t claim the mantle as the source of abiotic oil (that is specifically the Russian-Ukraine primordial abiotic hydrocarbon theory), but rather from the deep crust where geophysical chemical reactions are known to take place and can be quite vigerous. And in the search and Discovery paper presented by Mr. Middleton, there is no reference or citation to “leached organic matter” within the White Tiger oil recovered from the actual deep fault — again, an unsupported assumption by Mr. Middleton.

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “Eugene Island Block 330 oil field is often cited as an example of abiotic oil because some reservoirs produced more oil that the volumetric analyses predicted. This happens all the time. Almost all reservoirs produce more or less oil than we predict.”

    This is true, as far as it goes, but it is incomplete. First, the amount actually produced is at least an order of magnitude larger than the amount predicted. That is significant. Second, the oil well roughly produced its predicted amount and it did drop of dramatically in production, as expected, but suddenly, then began to produce in increased amounts almost equalling its original top production, and, it was evident the oil had a slightly different chemical “signature” from the original production and the oil was coming from deep below — Eugene Island Block 300 oil production was from the side of a salt dome.

    From the New York Times, September 26, 1995: “A geochemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts says she believes that hitherto undetected gas and oil reservoirs lying at very great depths within the earth’s crust could stave off the inevitable oil depletion much longer than many experts have estimated.”

    “The scientist, Dr. Jean K. Whelan, whose research is part of a $2 million Department of Energy exploration program in the Gulf of Mexico south of New Orleans, has found evidence of differences in the composition of oil over periods of time as it flows from greater to shallower depths. By gauging degradative chemical changes in the oil resulting from action by oil-eating bacteria, she infers that oil is moving in quite rapid spurts from great depths to reservoirs closer to the surface.”

    It is important to note this is consistent with Abiotic Oil Theory because it suggests the oil rises up from depth though various vertical conduits, cracks in the crust.

    “This means that the active portions of the Northern Gulf of Mexico basin are acting like a giant flow-through system. As soon as oil or gas is generated, most is expelled into the Gulf waters. Only crumbs are retained in the basin (outside of the source). These crumbs are still of great economic value. What’s happening today (or in geologically very recent times) is what is important. As stated eloquently by Gatenby (2002), “in the Gulf of Mexico, the present is the …” — L. M. Cathles, Hydrocarbon generation, migration, and venting in a portion of the offshore Louisiana Gulf of Mexico basin (2004).

    So-called “fossil” theory claims the organic detritus responsible for the formation of petroleum was deposited millions of years ago, and the oil formed by the so-called “diogenesis”/”catagensis” process over the course of unknown millions of years (a totally unconstrained and unverified hypothesis) and then the oil stored millions of years ago, waiting for extraction. But, if the Gulf of Mexico is a giant “flow-through system”, and, indeed, naturally occuring oil slicks happen all the time and it is estimated “half an ‘Exxon Valdez’ of oil leaks or ‘seeps’ into the Gulf of Mexico every year, then if the oil has been stored in sedimentary trapping deposits, which leak or ‘seep’, then, by now, millions of years later, all the oil, by that constant action of leaking to the surface, would have drained the deposits. This is a significant falsification of the so-called “fossil” theory of petroleum formation. On the other hand, the Abiotic Oil Theory has a ready explanation for the present deposits: The oil was not necessarily formed ‘millions of years ago’, but more recently (and long ago), via geo-physical processes, that are still ongoing at some unknown rate, so there would be plenty of oil to account for the seeps (which has been happening for a long time as suggested by the animal life that has evolved to eat the oil seeping form the seafloor).

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “The ultra-deepwater Lower Tertiary play in the Gulf of Mexico and the deep subsalt plays offshore Brazil are often cited as examples of abiotic oil because the reservoirs are supposedly too deep, too hot and/or too highly pressured to be in the oil window. This is simply abject nonsense…”

    False. It does violate the so-called “oil window” corollary of the “fossil” theory by its own terms.

    The oil is much hotter that 246°F. The oil is reported to be as hot as 500°F in the subsalt deposits off the Brazilian coast and as hot as 435°F in the deepest deposits in the Gulf of Mexico.

    A rough statement of theso-called “oil window” corollary:

    ” But there is a problem with this: the temperatures at depths below about 15,000 feet are high enough (above 275 degrees F) to break hydrocarbon bonds. What remains after these molecular bonds are severed is methane, whose molecule contains only a single carbon atom. For petroleum geologists this is not just a matter of theory, but of repeated and sometimes costly experience: they speak of an oil “window” that exists from roughly 7,500 feet to 15,000 feet, within which temperatures are appropriate for oil formation; look far outside the window, and you will most likely come up with a dry hole or, at best, natural gas only. The rare exceptions serve to prove the rule: they are invariably associated with strata that are rapidly (in geological terms) migrating upward or downward.”

    There have simply been too many deep wells drilled both on land and on the seafloor, deeper than 20,000 feet to support the nonsense of the “oil window”.

    Mr. Middleton, I don’t expect an answer, but I hope you apply The Scientific Method: Be reasonably sceptical, but have an open-mind to evidence.

    The evidence is there, if you are willing to consider it. The “fossil” theory first stated in 1757 was a primitive guess at what caused “rock oil” and. But sadly it has not changed even though the best evidence currently available supports the Abiotic Oil Theory. The Earth is a geo-chemical factory, with literally thousands of minerals (minerals run in families), is it really a surprise that the Earth, due to the natural chemical affinity between the elements hydrogen and carbon, would produce hydrocarbons?

  111. Mr. Middleton, I failed to address the issue of pressure and the Lost City (and below is documentation of temperature in the GOM) :

    Middlton wrote: “The discovery well for the Cascade Field on WR 206 TD’ed with 15 pound mud at about 19,000’ below the seafloor (about -27,800 below sea level). 15 pounds at that depth is normally pressured. The bottomhole temperature was 246°F (~120°C), well within the oil window.”

    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?

    Relevant part of article on temperature and pressure:

    “Bottomhole pressure in the Lower Tertiary wells [Gulf of Mexico] 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 because the physical conditions (heat and pressure) expected violated all the tenents of the “oil window”:

    “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?”

    Apparently, oil companies (and their oil geologists) think it is a strong possibility. 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:

    “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).

    Mr. Middleton, please, no more talk of the so-called “oil window” corollary to the “fossil” theory, as the above reporting blows the “oil window” out of the water. You better read the trade journals to know where the industry is at — the “oil window” is dead, falsified by repeated observation & measurement.

    http://www.offshore-mag.com/articles/print/volume-70/issue-1/gulf-of_mexico/lower-tertiary-play.html

    Oh, regarding Lost City, the hydrothermal vents on the Mid-Atlantic Rise, the issue is the evidence of Fisher-Tropsch processes happening. (And, again, if Fischer-Tropsch Type processes are happening, what would limit them to simple methane production as opposed to the full compliment hydrocarbons produced from the fully constrained industrial process?)

    Abiogenic Hydrocarbon Production at Lost City Hydrothermal Field by Proskurowski, Lilley, Seewald et. al. (2008):

    Abstract:
    “Low-molecular-weight hydrocarbons in natural hydrothermal fluids have been attributed to abiogenic production by Fischer-Tropsch type (FTT) reactions, although clear evidence for such a process has been elusive. Here, we present concentration, and stable and radiocarbon isotope, data from hydrocarbons dissolved in hydrogen-rich fluids venting at the ultramafic-hosted Lost City Hydrothermal Field. A distinct “inverse” trend in the stable carbon and hydrogen isotopic composition of C1 to C4 hydrocarbons is compatible with FTT genesis. Radiocarbon evidence rules out seawater bicarbonate as the carbon source for FTT reactions, suggesting that a mantle-derived inorganic carbon source is leached from the host rocks. Our findings illustrate that the abiotic synthesis of hydrocarbons in nature may occur in the presence of ultramafic rocks, water, and moderate amounts of heat.”

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/319/5863/604.short

    Also, note that the Fischer-Tropsch Type process is not limited to simple methane formation, as Mr. Middleton claimed, but is observed for up to the C4 hydrocarbon chain.

    Again, be reasonably sceptical, but keep an open-mind and be willing to follow where the evidence leads, as opposed to the dogmatic approach, which closes the mind from new evidence gained by additional observation & measurement.

  112. James F. EvansSep 5, 12:29 pm
    David Middleton:

    Thank you, I appreciate the answer. It is important to have dialogue, particularly when there is disagreement. I realize this thread is now long on the tooth, but I will give quick rebuttal. I don’t expect an answer, this for the record and for you to think about, assuming while you are reasonably sceptical, you still have an open-mind.

    Middleton wrote: “Evidence” of significant volumes of abiotic oil would consist of a significant volume of oil in a setting in which there was no sedimentary source rocks present. No examples of such exist anywhere on Earth or, as far as we know, in the solar system.”

    You make an a priori assumption that so-called “source rock” is the source of petroleum, but upon detailed investigation, it becomes apparent “source rock” can be explained with as much satisfaction, if not more satisfaction using abiotic principles.

    Middleton: wrote: “The Dnieper-Donets basin is often cited as an example of abiotic oil due to a lack of source rocks. This is simply wrong: Petroleum Geology and Resources of the Dnieper-Donets Basin, Ukraine and Russia.”

    False, nobody claim there isn’t sandstone, sedimentary rocks within the Dnieper-Donets basin with heavy hydrocarbons, C215H330. There are two major reasons for why it is cited as evidence for Abiotic Oil Theory:

    1.) There are multiple instances of petroleum being recovered from the crystalline basement below any so-called “source rock”, which in reality is simply porus rock, sedimentary, where heavy hydrocarbons are present, which is entirely consistent with the abiotic concept that as abiotic oil rises through vertical conduits, faults and fractures, a portion of the heavy hydrocarbon component of the petroleum drops out and lodges in those porus rocks (“fossil” theory explains the heavy hydrocarbons are produced by the so-called “diogenesis” process where organic detritus is turned into heavy hydrocarbons, so-called “kerogen”, actually C215H330, but “diogenesis” has never been demonstrated in the laboratory and there is no chemical pathway description, rather it is an unproven, a priori assumption, or as Mr. Middleton puts it, a “mythical” process).

    2.) The oil recovered from the crystalline basement has no evidence of organic detritus or so-called “bio-markers”.

    From the scientific paper The Drilling & Development of the Oil & Gas Fields in the Dnieper-Donetsk Basin, V. A. Krayushkin, T. I. Tchebanenko, V. P. Klochko, Ye. S. Dvoryanin, Institute of Geological Sciences, O. Gonchara Street 55-B, 01054 Kiev, Ukraine, J. F. Kenney, Russian Academy of Sciences – Joint Institute of The Physics of the Earth, Moscow, Russia (2001).

    Observation of petroleum in the crystalline basement:

    “Production from the Precambrian crystalline basement: In addition to these reservoirs in the sedimentary rock, above, the exploration drilling has discovered five reservoirs in the Precambrian crystalline basement rock complex at depths ranging from several meters to 200 meters below the top of the crystalline basement.”

    “The trapping strata for the reservoirs in the Carboniferous period sandstones are shallower shale formations, as is typical for sedimentary reservoirs. The trapping strata for the reservoirs in the Precambrian crystalline basement are impervious, non-fractured, essentially horizontal zones of crystalline rock which alternate with the fractured, uncompacted, bed-like zones of granite and amphibolite. An example of the “stacking of the petroleum reservoirs is shown in Fig. 2 for the Yuliyevskoye oil and gas field.”

    Observation of the lack of so-called “biomarkers” in the oil recovered from the crystalline basement:

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

    The USGS had no difficulty matching the Dnieper-Donets production to source rocks.

    Middleton wrote: “The fractured granite reservoirs of the Cuu Long basin [White Tiger offshore oil field, Vietnam] are often cited as an example of abiotic oil because oil is produced from fractured basement (granite) rocks. Oil is produced from Oligocene granite wash (yellow/green) on the flanks and top of a granitic diapir (pink) and from Miocene-Oligocene sandstones above the diapir. Oil is also produced from fractures in the granite (black/dark gray).”

    Yes, oil is produced from the fractures in the granite, as much as a thousand feet below the top of the fractures in the granite, which is a deep “rift” or fault, part of a rifted horst crystalline basement, which would act as a vertical conduit for abiotic sourced oil to rise up through.

    Mr. Middleton claims, “Oil is produced from Oligocene granite wash (yellow/green) on the flanks and top of a granitic diapir (pink) and from Miocene-Oligocene sandstones above the diapir.” But this statement is misleading, giving the impression equal amounts of oil are recovered from the surrounding ‘wash’ and ‘sandstone’ above the diapir. Rather, as the Search and Discovery paper cited by Mr. Middleton states, most oil is from the deep, ‘rift’ fracture, itself:

    “In spite of some discoveries in the Oligocene-Miocene clastics and volcanic sections, fractured granite basement is still the main target of Cuu Long basin. Tectonic activities play a key role in creating and enhancing the fractures in the basement. Five major oil fields produce predominantly from the basement [from within the faults].”

    They’re talking about how the granite became sufficiently fractured to have the porosity and permeability to become reservoir rock… Not how the oil got into the reservoir.

    Several characteristics of the faults and the petroleum recovered are significant:
    From the Search and Discovery:

    “The tops of these basement structures are usually at 2500 to 3000 mss with about 1000-1500 m [meters] oil column.”

    The oil column is extraordinarily tall, typically in the oil industry these are called “pay zone”.

    A large “pay zone” can be 300 feet, many are much shorter, reflecting the thickness of the sedimentary layer the oil is trapped in, but, here, it is over 3000 feet, (3,280 – 4,900 feet) in depth (once oil has been contacted), and that reflects the depth of the fault or ‘rift’, the extreme height of the oil columns is because the oil runs the full length of narrow vertical faults within the rifted horst, whereas, in average sedimentary oil deposits, the oil column is in the shape of a horizontal plane trapped below a horizontal cap rock that acts to seal the hydrocarbons in and prevent further rising within the stratigraphic column, so this is no ordinary oil column.

    Again, from the Search and Discovery paper:

    “However, the tectonic activity and the hydrothermal processes are practically the main factors that control the porosity of the fracture systems.”

    Hydrothermal systems have been identified as associated with oil deposits and specifically identified as an abiotic system where petroleum is formed by Fisher-Tropsch Type processes.

    (Which has already been discussed and a scientific paper presented and linked to without any comment or objection from Mr. Middleton.)

    Hydrothermal Hydrocarbons, Stanley B. Keith and Monte M. Swan (2005):

    “[Abiotic]…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

    (Another excellent paper for Mr. Middleton to review.)

    Again, from the Search and Discovery paper presented by Mr. Middleton:

    “This is the deepest basement structure in Cuu Long basin that has found oil. The DST flow rates from the main producing zone (4430 mss) are 2600 bopd, 6.8 mmscfgd, without water.”

    There is no highlight, but the notation, “without water” is very significant in terms of Abiotic Oil Theory. Typically oil is extracted with an accompaning ‘oil field brine’ a mix of water and oil (the water and oil are seperated after extraction) and various trace minerals and salt water (in Louisanna, ‘oil field brine’ extracted from around salt domes can have lead and strontium as trace metals). But in the White Tiger, Vietnam oil field there is no water, only pure petroleum.

    Why is that significant?

    Because water penetrates to the deepest part of any stratigraphic column as water is heavier than oil — oil floats on water.

    “Whether naphta was formed by organic matter is very doubtful, as it is found in the most ancient Silurian [Ordovician] strata which correspond with the epochs of the earth’s existence when there was very little organic matter; it could not penetrate from the higher to the lower (more ancient) strata as it floats on water (and water penetrates through all strata).” — Dmitri Mendeleyev, chemist, 1877

    If “water penetrates through all strata”, then, necessarily, if fluid (hydrocarbons) was penetrating from the “Upper Oligocene shale that is present throughout the basin and the Lower Oligocene interbedded shale” into the fractured rift network of the basement horst, water also would be penetrating into the rift fracture network. It could not be otherwise, yet in this case the hydrocarbons are specifically described flowing from the producing zone “without water”.

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “The abiotic hypothesis says that the oil formed in the mantle and migrated up through the granite and then into the sedimentary rocks above and around the diapir, leached organic matter out of the shale and migrated back into the granite.”

    First, the Fischer-Tropsch Type formation process referred to here several times with one scientific paper and one lengthy abstract of a scientific paper don’t claim the mantle as the source of abiotic oil (that is specifically the Russian-Ukraine primordial abiotic hydrocarbon theory), but rather from the deep crust where geophysical chemical reactions are known to take place and can be quite vigerous. And in the search and Discovery paper presented by Mr. Middleton, there is no reference or citation to “leached organic matter” within the White Tiger oil recovered from the actual deep fault — again, an unsupported assumption by Mr. Middleton.

    Good grief! Column height is dictated by seal integrity. It has nothing to do with sourcing. This is BASIC hydrodynamics.

    The lack of water in the drill stem test (DST) is also irrelevant to sourcing. Had the DST yielded a high water cut, it would have indicated that at least a portion of the perforation interval was in the water leg of the column.
    Maybe you missed the bit about the oil in the granite & granite wash having the same organic markers as the oil in the surrounding sandstones and matching the surround shale.

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “Eugene Island Block 330 oil field is often cited as an example of abiotic oil because some reservoirs produced more oil that the volumetric analyses predicted. This happens all the time. Almost all reservoirs produce more or less oil than we predict.”

    This is true, as far as it goes, but it is incomplete. First, the amount actually produced is at least an order of magnitude larger than the amount predicted. That is significant. Second, the oil well roughly produced its predicted amount and it did drop of dramatically in production, as expected, but suddenly, then began to produce in increased amounts almost equalling its original top production, and, it was evident the oil had a slightly different chemical “signature” from the original production and the oil was coming from deep below — Eugene Island Block 300 oil production was from the side of a salt dome.

    From the New York Times, September 26, 1995: “A geochemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts says she believes that hitherto undetected gas and oil reservoirs lying at very great depths within the earth’s crust could stave off the inevitable oil depletion much longer than many experts have estimated.”

    “The scientist, Dr. Jean K. Whelan, whose research is part of a $2 million Department of Energy exploration program in the Gulf of Mexico south of New Orleans, has found evidence of differences in the composition of oil over periods of time as it flows from greater to shallower depths. By gauging degradative chemical changes in the oil resulting from action by oil-eating bacteria, she infers that oil is moving in quite rapid spurts from great depths to reservoirs closer to the surface.”

    It is important to note this is consistent with Abiotic Oil Theory because it suggests the oil rises up from depth though various vertical conduits, cracks in the crust.

    “This means that the active portions of the Northern Gulf of Mexico basin are acting like a giant flow-through system. As soon as oil or gas is generated, most is expelled into the Gulf waters. Only crumbs are retained in the basin (outside of the source). These crumbs are still of great economic value. What’s happening today (or in geologically very recent times) is what is important. As stated eloquently by Gatenby (2002), “in the Gulf of Mexico, the present is the …” — L. M. Cathles, Hydrocarbon generation, migration, and venting in a portion of the offshore Louisiana Gulf of Mexico basin (2004).

    The news articles about EI 330 from the late ‘90s are nonsense. I have the production data right in front of me. I work the freaking Gulf of Mexico for a living. I have access to all of the production data through OWL.

    The rejuvenation of EI330 field was entirely due to a drilling program in the mid-1990’s. Field production peaked at over 96,000 BOPD in 1976. By 1990 it had declined to about 17,000 BOPD. Between 1990 and 1994, they drilled and completed about 25 new wells and sidetracks… And by 1996, production was back up to more than 33,000 BOPD. Since 1994, the field production has steadily declined to just over 9,500 BOPD. It’s a big field, one of the biggest in the Gulf. But, it’s declining just as all fields do.

    The correlation between well completions and production (block 330 only) is highly significant (R² = 0.6861).

    So-called “fossil” theory claims the organic detritus responsible for the formation of petroleum was deposited millions of years ago, and the oil formed by the so-called “diogenesis”/”catagensis” process over the course of unknown millions of years (a totally unconstrained and unverified hypothesis) and then the oil stored millions of years ago, waiting for extraction. But, if the Gulf of Mexico is a giant “flow-through system”, and, indeed, naturally occuring oil slicks happen all the time and it is estimated “half an ‘Exxon Valdez’ of oil leaks or ‘seeps’ into the Gulf of Mexico every year, then if the oil has been stored in sedimentary trapping deposits, which leak or ‘seep’, then, by now, millions of years later, all the oil, by that constant action of leaking to the surface, would have drained the deposits. This is a significant falsification of the so-called “fossil” theory of petroleum formation. On the other hand, the Abiotic Oil Theory has a ready explanation for the present deposits: The oil was not necessarily formed ‘millions of years ago’, but more recently (and long ago), via geo-physical processes, that are still ongoing at some unknown rate, so there would be plenty of oil to account for the seeps (which has been happening for a long time as suggested by the animal life that has evolved to eat the oil seeping form the seafloor).

    The evidence for the widespread deposition of kerogen-forming organic-rich shale formations from the Late Jurassic through the Eocene is massively well-documented. The Cretaceous, in particular, was a “hydrocarbon kitchen.”

    While the exact process is not perfectly understood, the matching of oil to source rocks is extremely well-constrained in most cases.

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “The ultra-deepwater Lower Tertiary play in the Gulf of Mexico and the deep subsalt plays offshore Brazil are often cited as examples of abiotic oil because the reservoirs are supposedly too deep, too hot and/or too highly pressured to be in the oil window. This is simply abject nonsense…”

    False. It does violate the so-called “oil window” corollary of the “fossil” theory by its own terms.

    The oil is much hotter that 246°F. The oil is reported to be as hot as 500°F in the subsalt deposits off the Brazilian coast and as hot as 435°F in the deepest deposits in the Gulf of Mexico.

    A rough statement of theso-called “oil window” corollary:

    ” But there is a problem with this: the temperatures at depths below about 15,000 feet are high enough (above 275 degrees F) to break hydrocarbon bonds. What remains after these molecular bonds are severed is methane, whose molecule contains only a single carbon atom. For petroleum geologists this is not just a matter of theory, but of repeated and sometimes costly experience: they speak of an oil “window” that exists from roughly 7,500 feet to 15,000 feet, within which temperatures are appropriate for oil formation; look far outside the window, and you will most likely come up with a dry hole or, at best, natural gas only. The rare exceptions serve to prove the rule: they are invariably associated with strata that are rapidly (in geological terms) migrating upward or downward.”

    There have simply been too many deep wells drilled both on land and on the seafloor, deeper than 20,000 feet to support the nonsense of the “oil window”.

    This is abject nonsense. I’ve drilled wells deeper than 20,000’ in the Gulf of Mexico. The bottom hole temperatures were in the range of 215°F (100°C). Ten wells in the Gulf of Mexico, drilled to true vertical depths greater than 20,000’ have each produced more than 20 million barrels of oil. The maximum bottom hole temperature (213°F) was encountered in the Mississippi Canyon (MC) 777 TF001 well, drilled by BP. The average bottom hole temperature of those ten 20 million barrel producers was 197°F.

    Walker Ridge 758 Chevron #1 is the deepest Gulf of Mexico oil producer; drilled to a TVD of 28,497’ in a water depth of 6,959’. It was completed in a Lower Tertiary Wilcox sandstone (26,831’ – 27,385’). The bottom hole temperature was 226°F.

    I have access to well logs, scout tickets and production data for every well ever drilled in the Gulf of Mexico. The only data I don’t have access to are competitors’ well logs less than 2-years old. There are no oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico with bottom hole temperatures outside of the oil window.

    And I have seen absolutely no evidence that any of the offshore Brazil reservoirs are outside of the oil window either.

    Mr. Middleton, I don’t expect an answer, but I hope you apply The Scientific Method: Be reasonably sceptical, but have an open-mind to evidence.

    The evidence is there, if you are willing to consider it. The “fossil” theory first stated in 1757 was a primitive guess at what caused “rock oil” and. But sadly it has not changed even though the best evidence currently available supports the Abiotic Oil Theory. The Earth is a geo-chemical factory, with literally thousands of minerals (minerals run in families), is it really a surprise that the Earth, due to the natural chemical affinity between the elements hydrogen and carbon, would produce hydrocarbons?

    Science fiction is not evidence.

    While abiotic oil formation is not impossible. All of the evidence you have cited for it is either false or the product of a wide range of scientific and factual ignorance, wishful thinking and vivid imagination.

  113. @ James F. Evans,

    Articles in pulp industry journals don’t trump the actual data. None of the ultra-deepwater Lower Tertiary oil wells have bottom hole temperatures anywhere near 400°F.

    The ultra-deep shallow water gas prospects being drilled by McMoRan (Davey Jones, etc.) may very well have very high bottom hole temperatures. But these are GAS wells. Not oil wells. And, as yet, McMoRan has yet to actually figure out how to complete any of these supposed discoveries and bring them online. These wells to not enjoy the benefits of deep water or thick tabular salt layers cushioning the effects of burial.

  114. Mr. Middleton, Thank you for your answers.

    Is Peter Szatmari, who works for Petrobas, the Brazilian state oil company, engaging in “science fiction”? Are Stanley B. Keith and Monte M. Swan engaging in “science fiction”?
    Are the Russian Scientists “engaging in “science fiction”?
    Are Proskurowski, Lilley, Seewald et. al. engaging in “science fiction”?

    See, Mr. Middleton, I’m not engaging in science fiction, I’m simply pointing out the work of scientists who disagree with you.

    So, really, you aren’t saying I’m engaging in science fiction, you are accusing other scientists of engaging in science fiction.

    Considering you didn’t even address the Szatmari paper or its evidence, is it really proper to turn around and accuse him of engaging in science fiction?

  115. Mr. Middleton, some follow-up is appropriate.

    Middleton wrote: “The USGS had no difficulty matching the Dnieper-Donets production to source rocks.”

    The USGS report you cited is a general survey. It is not surprising a general survey would attribute “source rocks” as being where the petroleum in the reservoir rocks originated from as a general survey would reflect general assumptions, one of which is that petroleum originates from so-called “source rocks”.

    The peer-reviewed, published paper I cited reports a scientific investigation specifically focussed on the issue of the origin of the oil in the crystalline basement which considered specific evidence regarding that issue and engaged in analysis & interpretation of the evidence observed & measured.

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

    Mr. Middleton, your answer doesn’t address their specific findings. All your answer does is appeal to the authority of a general survey as opposed to a scientific investigation specifically addressing the issue of the origin of the petroleum in the crystalline basement.

    Here is the paper’s conclusion:

    “These results, taken either individually or together, confirm the scientific conclusions that the oil and natural gas found both in the Precambrian crystalline basement and the sedimentary cover of the Northern Monoclinal Flank of the Dnieper-Donets Basin are of deep, and abiotic, origin.”

    Mr. Middleton, are you accusing these scientists, V. A. Krayushkin, T. I. Tchebanenko, V. P. Klochko, Ye. S. Dvoryanin, of engaging in “science fiction”?

    Again, is it proper and professional to accuse these scientists of engaging in “science fiction” when you don’t even address their specific findings?

  116. James F. Evans says:
    September 5, 2012 at 5:32 pm
    Mr. Middleton, Thank you for your answers.

    Is Peter Szatmari, who works for Petrobas, the Brazilian state oil company, engaging in “science fiction”? Are Stanley B. Keith and Monte M. Swan engaging in “science fiction”?

    The science fiction comment was more directed at the Eugene Island 330 and Lower Tertiary Gulf of Mexico claims.

    Szatmari was simply wrong. His hypothesis was tested by the discovery of subsalt oil reservoirs offshore Brazil. These reservoirs falsify his hypothesis.

    The subsalt oil reservoirs are easily tied to organic rich source rocks and the pressures & temperatures are well within the oil window for the same reasons as the ultra-deepwater subsalt plays in the Gilf of Mexico. It’s irrelevant whether or not Szatmari predicted oil would be found in this play based on abiotic principles. The oil that was discovered fully conforms to the conventional theory of oil formation.

    The only offshore Brazil reservoirs with bottom hole temperatures in the 350-450°F range are gas reservoirs.

    James F. Evans says:

    Are the Russian Scientists “engaging in “science fiction”?
    Are Proskurowski, Lilley, Seewald et. al. engaging in “science fiction”?

    According to the USGS, they are. However, let’s just say that it’s a coin toss. The Dnieper-Donnets might be an example of abiotic oil; however the presence of abundant sedimentary source rocks makes it impossible to test this hypothesis. How can it be tested? Drill a well in a fractured igneous rock formation, totally remote from any possible sedimentary organic sourcing… Say, the Siljan Ring.

    Ooops… Another abiotic hypothesis falsified…

    Black asphaltenic-type material removed from the drillstem at 5945 m [19,505 ft] in Well Gravberg-1 from the Precambrian granite, Siljan, Sweden, was investigated to determine its origin. The chemical characterization showed that this material contains small amounts of hydrocarbons maximizing in the diesel range. No heavy hydrocarbons were identified, except for trace amounts of polycyclic aliphatics. From the chemical and stable isotopic characterizations, we concluded that the black gelatinous material is derived predominantly from the alteration of biodegradable nontoxic lubricant (BNTL) additives by caustic soda, admixed with diesel oil and trace amounts of polycyclic hydrocarbons from recirculating local lake water. No evidence for an indigenous or deep source for the hydrocarbons could be justified.

    […]

    Jeffrey & Kaplan, 1988

    James F. Evans says:

    See, Mr. Middleton, I’m not engaging in science fiction, I’m simply pointing out the work of scientists who disagree with you.

    So, really, you aren’t saying I’m engaging in science fiction, you are accusing other scientists of engaging in science fiction.

    I’m not accusing anyone of anything. However, anyone who asserts that Eugene Island 330 and the ultra deepwater Lower Tertiary play in the Gulf of Mexico are evidence of abiotic oil is either engaging in science fiction or too ignorant of the facts and the science realize how loony they sound.

    The ultra-deepwater Lower Tertiary oil discoveries are well within the oil window. The shallow water Lower Tertiary gas discovery at Davy Jones is well out of the oil window, in the gas window…

    Davy Jones to Cascade Cross Section
    Gulf of Mexico Lower Tertiary and the Oil/Gas Window

    And… Please don’t reply with, “But these wells are too deep to be in the oil window.” The hydrocarbon windows are temperature-dependent, not depth dependent. The depths on the chart are approximations based on a generalized geothermal gradient. The geothermal gradient is highly variable. Water and halite are less dense than most rocks. When the overburden consists of 8,000’ of seawater and 2,000’ of halite, 30,000’ of overburden weighs a lot less than it does when it’s all composed of more dense rocks.

    James F. Evans says:

    Considering you didn’t even address the Szatmari paper or its evidence, is it really proper to turn around and accuse him of engaging in science fiction?

    As I previously noted, the actual drilling of subsalt oil reservoirs offshore Brazil refuted the Szatmari paper and falsified his hypothesis…

    The Super Giant Sub-Salt Hydrocarbon Province of the Greater Campos Basin
    In most areas of the ultra deep waters from the Brazilian margin, exploration has just begun with the discovery of four of the biggest oil fields found in the world. The fields encompassing more than 20 Bbbls of oils of reserves are the Tupi, Jupiter, Guará and Iará, oil fields. This paper presents the results of petroleum system modeling that was run on a detailed 3D geological framework built on a 20,000 Km2 of the best 3D PSDM seismic data (CGGVeritas) ever performed in the Santos Basin and on proprietary geological and geochemical data of HRT & Petroleum. With the discovery of the supergiant pre-salt oilfields in the Santos Basin, the meaning of petroleum exploration in Brazil changed completely. The paradigm against the existence of super giant hydrocarbon fields, in the sub-salt sequence in the Greater Campos realm, has been destroyed. New discoveries in the same pre-salt province suggest that the Brazilian reserves are indeed much larger, close to 50 Bbbls. This paper comprises a 3D petroleum system modeling used to assess the interplay among source, reservoirs, seals and trap geometries, thermal evolution of source rocks, hydrocarbon types, charge, timing of migration, accumulation and oil quality and a volumetric quantification of the accumulated petroleum. The main results indicate the presence of an overcharged source rock system reaching almost 90% transformation in the main depocenters of the studied area. Also, low excess pressure and temperature values occur below salt, in the main carbonate reservoirs from the Upper Lagoa Feia Fm, and range from 0.3 to 0.4 MPa and 80° to 100°C, respectively. Such values are critical in preserving the oil prone nature of the whole area. In general the pressure behavior seems to reflect the distribution of the massive halite layer in the basin, indicating normal pressure for most of the area below salt. Also, the salt layer was key in sealing the escape of hydrocarbons upward. The reservoir rocks, composed by stromatolites, coquinas and vulcanoclastics sum more than 300 m in thickness and extend for more than 1500 km to the north, presenting porosities up to 18% and permeability ranging from 50 to 400mD. The supergiant accumulations are trapped below a huge salt layer that acted as the BEST preservation element possible (seal, cushion and temperature drainer). Such ideal conjunction of the elements and processes established one of the most prolific petroleum system of the world.

    Mello, et al., 2009

    80° to 100°C is well within the oil window.

  117. Mr. Middleton, thank you for your answers.

    It’s fair to say you disagree with Abiotic Oil Theory.

    It is also fair to say there are other oil geologists who disagree with your opinion.

    In regards to Offshore magazine, it is a oil trade journal, and as understand it, a repected offshore exploration & development trade journal. In spite of your characterization of it as “pulp fiction”, I’m sure others in the industry do not share your opinion.

    A quote from the Offshore magazine article:

    “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.”

    This is a quote from Rustom Mody, Baker Hughes vice president of Technology:

    “The CTI is capable of testing full-size prototypes of the next generation of completion and production equipment in a test environment with gas pressure up to 40,000 psi and temperature up to 700° F (371° C).”

    Unless you are saying the author of the article or Rustom Mody is not being truthful, the oil industry is developing technology for pressure and temperature conditions which exceed the parameters of the so-called “oil window”. This is a fact.

    On Lost City, the hydrothermal vents on the Mid-Atlantic Rise, the issue is the evidence of Fisher-Tropsch processes happening. And, again, if Fischer-Tropsch Type processes are happening, what would limit them to methane up to C4 production as opposed to the full compliment hydrocarbons produced from the fully constrained industrial process?

    Abiogenic Hydrocarbon Production at Lost City Hydrothermal Field by Proskurowski, Lilley, Seewald et. al. (2008):

    Abstract:
    “Low-molecular-weight hydrocarbons in natural hydrothermal fluids have been attributed to abiogenic production by Fischer-Tropsch type (FTT) reactions, although clear evidence for such a process has been elusive. Here, we present concentration, and stable and radiocarbon isotope, data from hydrocarbons dissolved in hydrogen-rich fluids venting at the ultramafic-hosted Lost City Hydrothermal Field. A distinct “inverse” trend in the stable carbon and hydrogen isotopic composition of C1 to C4 hydrocarbons is compatible with FTT genesis. Radiocarbon evidence rules out seawater bicarbonate as the carbon source for FTT reactions, suggesting that a mantle-derived inorganic carbon source is leached from the host rocks. Our findings illustrate that the abiotic synthesis of hydrocarbons in nature may occur in the presence of ultramafic rocks, water, and moderate amounts of heat.”

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/319/5863/604.short

    “Due to the build up of scientific evidence supporting Abiotic Oil Theory, many oil geologists who subscribe to the “fossil” theory, acknowledge abiotic oil is produced here on Earth, but claim it is only produced in small amounts. But, if petroleum is produced via the Fischer-Tropsch Type process, the Fischer-Tropsch process known as the serpentinite mechanism or the serpentinite process, a geo-chemical process (a well constrained and quantified process, not “mythical” at all), then what is the limiting factor? That is never answered because there is no limiting factor beyond the availability of the building block elements in the Earth’s crust.”

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “While abiotic oil formation is not impossible.”

    And, in regards to the Dnieper-Donnets basin, Mr. Middleton wrote: “Dnieper-Donnets might be an example of abiotic oil…”

    Mr. Middleton, your statement seems to be a variant, on the “abiotic oil is produced, but in only small, non-commerical amounts,” idea stated by other oil geologists.

    Seeing the Proskurowski, Lilley, Seewald et. al. abstract, there is evidence of abiotic methane through C4 formation, but as I stated, in my first comment, on this post, you, like your fellow oil geologists, never answer, “what is the limiting factor?”

    Mr. Middleton wrote: [Mello, et al., 2009]…refuted the Szatmari paper and falsified his hypothesis…”

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “Szatmari was simply wrong…”

    I would like more data on oil temperature of the Brazilian offshore wells, but since I don’t… I can’t challenge the your statement regarding oil temperatures.

    But it does not refute or falsified Mr. Szatmari’s observations and citations to other scientific papers, or his description of the Fischer-Tropsch Type process, the Fischer-Tropsch process known as the serpentinite mechanism or the serpentinite process, a geo-chemical process or its comparison to the known composition to Saudi Arabian oil fields.

    (Nor does it address his notes on the trace metal contents of oil which is consistent with a deep origin in the crust as opposed to a surface origin — the metals being rare at the surface and consistent with their plentitude in the deep crust.)

    Szatmari noted in his 1989 paper that Fischer-Tropsch synthetic oil matches the hydrocarbon distribution profile of Saudi Arabian oil fields.

    Petroleum Formation by Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis in Plate Tectonics, by Peter Szatmari (1989)

    Szatmari wrote:
    “COMPARISON OF NATURAL AND SYNTHETIC OILS
    Several constituents of petroluem indicate that it may have formed by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. Crude oils, like oils produced by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, are mixtures of a very large number of hydrocarbon compounds whose chain length ranges from one (methane) to many carbon atoms. In petroleum, as in the products of Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, the number of molecules systematically decreases with increasing number of carbon atoms, reflecting the probabilities of chain growth and chain termination that characterize any polymerization process (Schulz-Flory distribution) (Figure 1). Early studies by Robinson (1963) and Friedel and Sharkey (1963, 1968) indicate that the distribution of normal and isoparaffins in crude oil follows the chain-growth and chain-branching probabilities of the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis.”

    Szatmari wrote:
    “Friedel and Sharkey (1963, 1968) found that the two parameters of the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis — the probability of chain lengthening and that of chain branching — accurately predict the abundance of isomers in Saudi Arabian oil, suggesting that it formed by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and not by thermal breakdown of fossil organic matter.”

    Nor does your answer refute the previously provided abstract of the scientific paper, Hydrothermal Hydrocarbons, by Stanley B. Keith and Monte M. Swan (2005) which adds additional observations & measurements consistent with the Fischer-Tropsch Type, serpentinite process. (And other important evidences of Abiotic Oil Theory.)

    “[Abiotic]…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

    I might add, which you have failed to object to or comment on. (Other than your attempt to lump in all abiotic scientific investigation as being “science fiction”, which you have now retracted.)

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “The evidence for the widespread deposition of kerogen-forming organic-rich shale formations from the Late Jurassic through the Eocene is massively well-documented… While the exact process is not perfectly understood, the matching of oil to source rocks is extremely well-constrained in most cases.”

    Yes, the process is nothing more than an a priori assumption without any laboratory confirmation or scientific constraint. All evidence of so called “bio-markers” has been explained to better satisfaction by abiotic principles and mechanics — geophysical and geochemical processes than the so-called “diogenesis/catagenesis” assumption.

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “According to the USGS, they [the four Russian scientists] are [wrong]. However, let’s just say that it’s a coin toss.”

    Mr. Middleton, you can call it a “coin toss” and make an ‘appeal to authority’ to a general survey, but I’ll go with a scientific investigation specifically focussed on the issue of the origin of the oil in the crystalline basement which considered specific evidence regarding that issue and engaged in analysis & interpretation of the evidence observed & measured.

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

    After all, with all your criticism, you still have not addressed their specific findings.

  118. James F. Evans:

    I have read your long post at September 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm and I am at a loss to understand your point.

    For sake of argument, let us assume that abiotic oil exists. Indeed, let us assume that all oil is abiotic. If either of those assumptions were true then I fail to see how that would affect the argument and conclusions in the above article in any way. But this thread is a discussion of that article.

    So, I would be grateful if you were to explain the relevance of your post.

    Richard

  119. richardscourtney,

    A reasonable and excellent question. The revelance is to the amount of oil potentially available within the United States and its continental waters, indeed, within the 200 mile exclusive economic zone. as well.

    It is true, nobody knows how fast the Earth’s geo-chemical production hydrocarbons proceed.

    But, by and large, the “fossil” theory is a much more limited view of the scope of the Earth’s hydrocarbon potential because it is finite by definition (due to the organic detritus being emplaced literally millions of years ago), but more important, limited by the theory’s constrained view of where oil might be located due to it’s specific reliance on organic detritus instead of purely geo-physical processes. Abiotic Oil Theory states that hydrocarbons can be found all the way to the pre-cambrian crystalline bedrock and, indeed, within the bedrock, itself, in fractures and fissures. So, even if there is no substantial ‘ongoing’ formation of hydrocarbons (as stated, nobody knows) the scope of the size of thoses reservoirs are larger than anything proposed by “fossil” theory. Also, the territory is greater because offshore oil reservoirs are potentially much more vast than would be with organic detritus. It seems the estimated oil reserves of the Gulf of Mexico keep rising all the time.

    To boil it down:

    Supplies of hydrocarbons are much more plentiful according to Abiotic Oil Theory (even without any ongoing formation of hydrocarbons, although there is some evidence, notwithstanding Mr. Middleton’s objection to the Eugene Island oil field in the Gulf of Mexico, of some ongoing formation).

    It is my contention and others share it, that the price of hydrocarbons is artifically high because of the concept of “peak” oil. So-called “peak” oil theory is entirely dependent on the “fossil” theory of petroleum formation, that is why you see “peak” oil supporters so vigorously object to Abiotic Oil Theory because it falsifies their whole “peak” oil argument because “peak” oil relies on the limited assumptions of supply dictated by the “fossil” theory.

    “Every ten or fifteen years since the late 1800’s, ‘experts’ have predicted that oil reserves would last only ten more years. These experts have predicted nine out of the last zero oil-reserve exhaustions.” — C. Maurice and C. Smithson, Doomsday Mythology: 10,000 Years of Economic Crisis, Hoover Institution Press, Stanford, 1984.

    This periodic crisis of impending “peak”, which has never come true, even today, has been based on the mistaken belief in the “fossil” theory of petroleum formation.

    The quote below is from a papers written by V. I. Sozansky, Dept. Marine Geology, National Academy of Sciences, Ukraine, J. F. Kenney, Gas Resources Corporation, U.S.A., P. M. Chepil, Institute Naukanaftogas, Ukraine.

    “The world-wide reserves of oil and gas were analyzed by Lasaga & Holland (1971) from both the perspectives of BOOP and an abiotic origin of petroleum. By their estimates, the maximum quantity of crude oil that could have been produced by all biological matter on Earth could be represented by a thin 2.5mm film uniformly covering the Earth’s surface. Their estimates of the quantity of crude oil that could be produced abiologically could be represented by a thick 10km (!) layer uniformly covering the surface of the Earth. This difference estimates that abiotic petroleum must be at least 8 million times greater than could ever be expected from BOOP. Thus modern petroleum science predicts, even by the early estimates of Lasaga & Holland, that there exist tremendous quantities of petroleum, sufficient for the needs of humanity for thousands of years.”

    Even if the above statement is an exaggerated illustration of the difference between the difference in amount of hydrocarbons between the two theories of hydrocarbon formation (and I suspect it is an exaggeration) it gives the reader a rough approximation of the difference.

    Some proponents of Abiotic Oil Theory claim that oil geologists working for the oil industry don’t want the idea of abiotic oil to become wide-spread in the general public because it would break the whole idea that oil is a scarce and limited resource and, thus, valuble product, so the oil industry and speculators (who take advantage of cycles of “peak” scaremongering to push up the price beyond what actual supply and demand would dictate in the international market or even the U. S. market) can charge more money.

    All these factors are important when discussing the U. S. being ‘independent’.

    Also, if petroleum is more common than currently thought world-wide it would take pressure off the markets generally. I want the U. S. to be independent energy-wise, but it may not be necessary to do that if world-wide supplies are abundant. Besides, there have been calls and promises of American energy independence for 40 years (early 1970’s) and it has never happened, so, if it can be done — good — but if it can’t it won’t be the end of the world.

    So, the above explanation is why I think the issue of the actual causation of hydrocarbons in the Earth’s crust is relevant to any supply discussion.

  120. James F. Evans on September 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Mr. Middleton, thank you for your answers.

    It’s fair to say you disagree with Abiotic Oil Theory.

    I neither agree nor disagree with the various abiotic hypotheses. There simply isn’t any evidence of significant volumes of abiotic oil anywhere on Earth.

    James F. Evans

    It is also fair to say there are other oil geologists who disagree with your opinion.

    Geoscientists disagree about a lot of things. Disagreement is not evidence of significant volumes of abiotic oil.

    James F. Evans

    In regards to Offshore magazine, it is a oil trade journal, and as understand it, a repected offshore exploration & development trade journal. In spite of your characterization of it as “pulp fiction”, I’m sure others in the industry do not share your opinion.

    A quote from the Offshore magazine article:

    “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.”

    This is a quote from Rustom Mody, Baker Hughes vice president of Technology:

    “The CTI is capable of testing full-size prototypes of the next generation of completion and production equipment in a test environment with gas pressure up to 40,000 psi and temperature up to 700° F (371° C).”

    Unless you are saying the author of the article or Rustom Mody is not being truthful, the oil industry is developing technology for pressure and temperature conditions which exceed the parameters of the so-called “oil window”. This is a fact.

    Firstly, you need to stop lying about what I have posted. I did not refer to Offshore magazine as “pulp fiction.” I referred to it as a “pulp industry journal”…
    “Articles in pulp industry journals don’t trump the actual data. None of the ultra-deepwater Lower Tertiary oil wells have bottom hole temperatures anywhere near 400°F.

    The ultra-deep shallow water gas prospects being drilled by McMoRan (Davey Jones, etc.) may very well have very high bottom hole temperatures. But these are GAS wells. Not oil wells.”

    Offshore magazine is a widely distributed free trade publication (AKA pulp). It’s a very informative magazine, covering most aspects of the industry; but it is not a technical or scientific journal like the AAPG Bulletin, SEG Geophysics or the SPE’s equivalent publication.

    Secondly, you need to learn how to read:

    “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).”

    He’s discussing gas well completions, like McMoRan’s Davy Jones. Gas can survive very high temperatures.

    James F. Evans

    On Lost City, the hydrothermal vents on the Mid-Atlantic Rise, the issue is the evidence of Fisher-Tropsch processes happening. And, again, if Fischer-Tropsch Type processes are happening, what would limit them to methane up to C4 production as opposed to the full compliment hydrocarbons produced from the fully constrained industrial process?

    Abiogenic Hydrocarbon Production at Lost City Hydrothermal Field by Proskurowski, Lilley, Seewald et. al. (2008):

    Abstract:
    “Low-molecular-weight hydrocarbons in natural hydrothermal fluids have been attributed to abiogenic production by Fischer-Tropsch type (FTT) reactions, although clear evidence for such a process has been elusive. Here, we present concentration, and stable and radiocarbon isotope, data from hydrocarbons dissolved in hydrogen-rich fluids venting at the ultramafic-hosted Lost City Hydrothermal Field. A distinct “inverse” trend in the stable carbon and hydrogen isotopic composition of C1 to C4 hydrocarbons is compatible with FTT genesis. Radiocarbon evidence rules out seawater bicarbonate as the carbon source for FTT reactions, suggesting that a mantle-derived inorganic carbon source is leached from the host rocks. Our findings illustrate that the abiotic synthesis of hydrocarbons in nature may occur in the presence of ultramafic rocks, water, and moderate amounts of heat.”

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/319/5863/604.short

    No one is disputing the fact that methane and trace quantities of heavier natural gases. This not evidence of significant volumes of abiotic oil.

    If significant volumes of abiotic oil were being formed in the mantle, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and other areas of thin and/or rifted oceanic crust would be rife with oil seeps like the Gulf of Mexico .

    James F. Evans

    “Due to the build up of scientific evidence supporting Abiotic Oil Theory, many oil geologists who subscribe to the “fossil” theory, acknowledge abiotic oil is produced here on Earth, but claim it is only produced in small amounts. But, if petroleum is produced via the Fischer-Tropsch Type process, the Fischer-Tropsch process known as the serpentinite mechanism or the serpentinite process, a geo-chemical process (a well constrained and quantified process, not “mythical” at all), then what is the limiting factor? That is never answered because there is no limiting factor beyond the availability of the building block elements in the Earth’s crust.”

    The “limiting factor” is the volume of sedimentary rock in the Earth’s crust.

    This volume is massively large and we have barely scratched the surface in exploiting it.

    James F. Evans

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “While abiotic oil formation is not impossible.”

    And, in regards to the Dnieper-Donnets basin, Mr. Middleton wrote: “Dnieper-Donnets might be an example of abiotic oil…”

    Mr. Middleton, your statement seems to be a variant, on the “abiotic oil is produced, but in only small, non-commerical amounts,” idea stated by other oil geologists.

    Seeing the Proskurowski, Lilley, Seewald et. al. abstract, there is evidence of abiotic methane through C4 formation, but as I stated, in my first comment, on this post, you, like your fellow oil geologists, never answer, “what is the limiting factor?”

    We answer it all the time. You either don’t like or don’t understand the answer.

    James F. Evans

    Mr. Middleton wrote: [Mello, et al., 2009]…refuted the Szatmari paper and falsified his hypothesis…”

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “Szatmari was simply wrong…”

    I would like more data on oil temperature of the Brazilian offshore wells, but since I don’t… I can’t challenge the your statement regarding oil temperatures.

    You’re making the assertion sans evidence that the subsalt Brazil and the Lower Tertiary ultra deepwater oil plays are outside the oil window. I’ve refuted that assertion with actual well data from the Gulf of Mexico and at least three publications about actual well data from offshore Brazil.

    The reason why the oil window can exist at such depths is the same in both cases: Thick salt layers and deep water.

    James F. Evans

    But it does not refute or falsified Mr. Szatmari’s observations and citations to other scientific papers, or his description of the Fischer-Tropsch Type process, the Fischer-Tropsch process known as the serpentinite mechanism or the serpentinite process, a geo-chemical process or its comparison to the known composition to Saudi Arabian oil fields.

    (Nor does it address his notes on the trace metal contents of oil which is consistent with a deep origin in the crust as opposed to a surface origin — the metals being rare at the surface and consistent with their plentitude in the deep crust.)

    Szatmari noted in his 1989 paper that Fischer-Tropsch synthetic oil matches the hydrocarbon distribution profile of Saudi Arabian oil fields.

    Petroleum Formation by Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis in Plate Tectonics, by Peter Szatmari (1989)

    Szatmari wrote:
    “COMPARISON OF NATURAL AND SYNTHETIC OILS
    Several constituents of petroluem indicate that it may have formed by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. Crude oils, like oils produced by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, are mixtures of a very large number of hydrocarbon compounds whose chain length ranges from one (methane) to many carbon atoms. In petroleum, as in the products of Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, the number of molecules systematically decreases with increasing number of carbon atoms, reflecting the probabilities of chain growth and chain termination that characterize any polymerization process (Schulz-Flory distribution) (Figure 1). Early studies by Robinson (1963) and Friedel and Sharkey (1963, 1968) indicate that the distribution of normal and isoparaffins in crude oil follows the chain-growth and chain-branching probabilities of the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis.”

    Szatmari wrote:
    “Friedel and Sharkey (1963, 1968) found that the two parameters of the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis — the probability of chain lengthening and that of chain branching — accurately predict the abundance of isomers in Saudi Arabian oil, suggesting that it formed by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and not by thermal breakdown of fossil organic matter.”

    You asserted that Szatmari predicted the discovery of the subsalt deepwater oil play offshore Brazil based on an abiotic hypothesis.

    The drilling results falsified that hypothesis. The oil was easily matched to sedimentary source rocks and well within the oil window.

    James F. Evans

    Nor does your answer refute the previously provided abstract of the scientific paper, Hydrothermal Hydrocarbons, by Stanley B. Keith and Monte M. Swan (2005) which adds additional observations & measurements consistent with the Fischer-Tropsch Type, serpentinite process. (And other important evidences of Abiotic Oil Theory.)

    “[Abiotic]…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

    I didn’t address it because it’s not evidence of significant volumes of abiotic oil.

    James F. Evans

    I might add, which you have failed to object to or comment on. (Other than your attempt to lump in all abiotic scientific investigation as being “science fiction”, which you have now retracted.)

    I didn’t retract anything. I corrected your mischaracterization of my use of the phrase “science fiction.”

    James F. Evans

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “The evidence for the widespread deposition of kerogen-forming organic-rich shale formations from the Late Jurassic through the Eocene is massively well-documented… While the exact process is not perfectly understood, the matching of oil to source rocks is extremely well-constrained in most cases.”

    Yes, the process is nothing more than an a priori assumption without any laboratory confirmation or scientific constraint. All evidence of so called “bio-markers” has been explained to better satisfaction by abiotic principles and mechanics — geophysical and geochemical processes than the so-called “diogenesis/catagenesis” assumption.

    There’s nothing a priori about it. The theory was developed through more than 100 years of observation and testing.

    James F. Evans

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “According to the USGS, they [the four Russian scientists] are [wrong]. However, let’s just say that it’s a coin toss.”

    Mr. Middleton, you can call it a “coin toss” and make an ‘appeal to authority’ to a general survey, but I’ll go with a scientific investigation specifically focussed on the issue of the origin of the oil in the crystalline basement which considered specific evidence regarding that issue and engaged in analysis & interpretation of the evidence observed & measured.

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

    There you go again… Mischaracterizing what I posted. I made no appeal to authority. Kenny et al, say they found no evidence of organic sourcing. The. USGS had no difficulty identifying organic sourcing.

    Despite the fact that Kenny is an advocate of the abiotic hypothesis and his Dneiper-Donets claims are totally unconfirmed, I said:

    According to the USGS, they are. However, let’s just say that it’s a coin toss. The Dnieper-Donnets might be an example of abiotic oil; however the presence of abundant sedimentary source rocks makes it impossible to test this hypothesis. How can it be tested? Drill a well in a fractured igneous rock formation, totally remote from any possible sedimentary organic sourcing… Say, the Siljan Ring.

    Ooops… Another abiotic hypothesis falsified…

    James F. Evans

    After all, with all your criticism, you still have not addressed their specific findings.

    I haven’t addressed them because they do not constitute evidence of significant volumes of abiotic oil and they are irrelevant to oil & gas exploration.

  121. James F. Evans on September 8, 2012 at 11:48 am

    richardscourtney,

    A reasonable and excellent question. The revelance is to the amount of oil potentially available within the United States and its continental waters, indeed, within the 200 mile exclusive economic zone. as well.

    We’re already drilling as far out to the edge of the EEZ as technology allows us to in areas open to drilling.

    James F. Evans

    It is true, nobody knows how fast the Earth’s geo-chemical production hydrocarbons proceed.

    But, by and large, the “fossil” theory is a much more limited view of the scope of the Earth’s hydrocarbon potential because it is finite by definition (due to the organic detritus being emplaced literally millions of years ago), but more important, limited by the theory’s constrained view of where oil might be located due to it’s specific reliance on organic detritus instead of purely geo-physical processes. Abiotic Oil Theory states that hydrocarbons can be found all the way to the pre-cambrian crystalline bedrock and, indeed, within the bedrock, itself, in fractures and fissures. So, even if there is no substantial ‘ongoing’ formation of hydrocarbons (as stated, nobody knows) the scope of the size of thoses reservoirs are larger than anything proposed by “fossil” theory. Also, the territory is greater because offshore oil reservoirs are potentially much more vast than would be with organic detritus. It seems the estimated oil reserves of the Gulf of Mexico keep rising all the time.

    Abject nonsense.

    Oil is still being formed and migrating from source to reservoir rocks in the Gulf of Mexico. The Pleistocene reservoirs are less than 2.5 million years old and many have only been charged over the last 275,000 years. The reservoirs simply aren’t being charged as quickly as we are producing them.

    The proven reserves keep rising because we keep drilling, producing and finding ways to increase recovery factors. In most cases in the Gulf of Mexico, we can only recover 20-40% of the original oil in place (OOIP). The “limiting factor” is not the current oil formation paradigm. The limiting factors regarding drilling are and always will be technology, economics and gov’t.

    The explosion of proved reserves in Bakken and Eagle Ford was due to technology. The explosion of proved reserves in the Athabasca oil sands was due to economics. The oil didn’t just suddenly appear. The resource potential had been long recognized. The ability to economically extract them is what changed.

    “Proved reserves” is a legally defined phrase. It is the volume of oil proved in a wellbore than can be economically extracted under current economic and technological conditions.

    The estimated ultimate recoveries (EUR) of new discoveries and resource potentials are invariably much higher than the initial reserve booking.

    James F. Evans

    To boil it down:

    Supplies of hydrocarbons are much more plentiful according to Abiotic Oil Theory (even without any ongoing formation of hydrocarbons, although there is some evidence, notwithstanding Mr. Middleton’s objection to the Eugene Island oil field in the Gulf of Mexico, of some ongoing formation).

    This still has nothing to do with abiotic oil. The Gulf of Mexico is a very active and relatively young hydrocarbon system.

    The EI 330 myth is the product of scientific and factual ignorance. It is the conflattion of unrelated events. The short term increase in production in the 1990s was combined with geochemical changes and slower than expected decline rates in some reservoirs. The field is still charging from at least two distinct sources, both of which are clearly of organic origin. The migration of hydrocarbons along a fault plane may have even been observed through 4d seismic. None of this had anything to do with the brief increase in production. This was the result of a drilling program. Almost every large field has a similar decline curve, with short term production increases from drilling new wells or sidetracking and recmpleting old wells.

    James F. Evans

    It is my contention and others share it, that the price of hydrocarbons is artifically high because of the concept of “peak” oil. So-called “peak” oil theory is entirely dependent on the “fossil” theory of petroleum formation, that is why you see “peak” oil supporters so vigorously object to Abiotic Oil Theory because it falsifies their whole “peak” oil argument because “peak” oil relies on the limited assumptions of supply dictated by the “fossil” theory.

    “Every ten or fifteen years since the late 1800’s, ‘experts’ have predicted that oil reserves would last only ten more years. These experts have predicted nine out of the last zero oil-reserve exhaustions.” — C. Maurice and C. Smithson, Doomsday Mythology: 10,000 Years of Economic Crisis, Hoover Institution Press, Stanford, 1984.

    This periodic crisis of impending “peak”, which has never come true, even today, has been based on the mistaken belief in the “fossil” theory of petroleum formation.

    Neither the Peak Oil nor the current paradigm of hydrocarbon formation theories have anything to do with product prices.

    Prices are the result of the market’s perception of production (supply) and consumption (demand) relative to the pricing currency. The key supply factor is excess production capacity.

    James F. Evans

    The quote below is from a papers written by V. I. Sozansky, Dept. Marine Geology, National Academy of Sciences, Ukraine, J. F. Kenney, Gas Resources Corporation, U.S.A., P. M. Chepil, Institute Naukanaftogas, Ukraine.

    “The world-wide reserves of oil and gas were analyzed by lL00000WWswsswSswszwwwqq0weWeewederpasaga & Holland (1971) from both the perspectives of BOOP and an abiotic origin of petroleum. By their estimates, the maximum quantity of crude oil that could have been produced by all biological matter on Earth could be represented by a thin 2.5mm film uniformly covering the Earth’s surface. Their estimates of the quantity of crude oil that could be produced abiologically could be represented by a thick 10km (!) layer uniformly covering the surface of the Earth. This difference estimates that abiotic petroleum must be at least 8 million times greater than could ever be expected from BOOP. Thus modern petroleum science predicts, even by the early estimates of Lasaga & Holland, that there exist tremendous quantities of petroleum, sufficient for the needs of humanity for thousands of years.”

    Even if the above statement is an exaggerated illustration of the difference between the difference in amount of hydrocarbons between the two theories of hydrocarbon formation (and I suspect it is an exaggeration) it gives the reader a rough approximation of the difference.

    The Gulf of Mexico has accumulated more than 60,000′ of sedimentary column over the last 200 million years. The Cenozoic section, alone, is more than 40,000′ thick in places. The Quaternary can be more than 30,000′ thick in some locations. Most ot the sedimentary column is composed of thick, organic-rich shale.

    Red = Sediment thickness ~ 20,000 meters…

    Oceanic Sedimentary Isopach Map

    Marine black shales, deposited under anoxic conditions are loaded with the stuff that oil is made of…

    Total organic carbon (TOC) averaged 10% by weight.

    The Cretaceous, in particular, was a hydrocarbon “kitchen.” Marine conditions couldn’t have been more favorable for the deposition of source rocks even if they had been designed for such a purpose…

    Cretaceous Proto-Atlantic

    The Eocene was also a hydrocarbon kitchen (up to 21% TOC).

    There is no shortage of organic matter in the sedimentary basins of the Earth’s crust.

    James F. Evans

    Some proponents of Abiotic Oil Theory claim that oil geologists working for the oil industry don’t want the idea of abiotic oil to become wide-spread in the general public because it would break the whole idea that oil is a scarce and limited resource and, thus, valuble product, so the oil industry and speculators (who take advantage of cycles of “peak” scaremongering to push up the price beyond what actual supply and demand would dictate in the international market or even the U. S. market) can charge more money.

    This notion that petroleum geologists are hiding the evidence for your pet theory is both idiotic and delusional. It makes the faked Moon landings and 911 conspiracy theories seem sane in comparison.

    My entire post was devoted to the evidence that the US has an effectively unlimited supply of oil.

    James F. Evans

    All these factors are important when discussing the U. S. being ‘independent’.

    Those “factors” are no more relevant than faked Moon landing theories are relevant to a discussion of lunar geology.

    James F. Evans

    Also, if petroleum is more common than currently thought world-wide it would take pressure off the markets generally. I want the U. S. to be independent energy-wise, but it may not be necessary to do that if world-wide supplies are abundant. Besides, there have been calls and promises of American energy independence for 40 years (early 1970′s) and it has never happened, so, if it can be done — good — but if it can’t it won’t be the end of the world.

    Did you miss the “Does Policy Make a Difference?” section?

    James F. Evans

    So, the above explanation is why I think the issue of the actual causation of hydrocarbons in the Earth’s crust is relevant to any supply discussion.

    And it’s still no more relevant than faked Moon landing theories are relevant to a discussion of lunar geology.

  122. Mr. Middleton, you are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “And it’s [Abiotic Oil Theory] still no more relevant than faked Moon landing theories are relevant to a discussion of lunar geology.”

    This statement speaks volumes regarding your attitude about Abiotic Oil Theory.

    In my opinion you are hostile to Abiotic Oil Theory and apparently, given your responses, hold in contempt the geoscientists who subscribe to Abiotic Oil Theory by claiming there is no evidence to support the existence of substantial volumes of abiotic oil — never mind the facts & evidence these scientists cite in favor of Abiotic Oil Theory.

    Apparently, the geoscientists who subscribe to Abiotic Oil Theory are no better than “fake Moon landing” conspiracists in your mind.

    Thank you for your time and effort. I appreciate the discussion and gaining an understanding of your perspective on the matter.

  123. James Evans,

    I tend to agree that abiotic oil is possible, since hydrocarbons are found throughout the solar system. But to be fair, abiotic oil is not a theory, which would make its existence highly predictable. It is at most a hypothesis.

  124. James F. Evans says:
    September 10, 2012 at 12:20 pm
    Mr. Middleton, you are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “And it’s [Abiotic Oil Theory] still no more relevant than faked Moon landing theories are relevant to a discussion of lunar geology.”

    This statement speaks volumes regarding your attitude about Abiotic Oil Theory.

    In my opinion you are hostile to Abiotic Oil Theory and apparently, given your responses, hold in contempt the geoscientists who subscribe to Abiotic Oil Theory by claiming there is no evidence to support the existence of substantial volumes of abiotic oil — never mind the facts & evidence these scientists cite in favor of Abiotic Oil Theory.

    Apparently, the geoscientists who subscribe to Abiotic Oil Theory are no better than “fake Moon landing” conspiracists in your mind.

    Thank you for your time and effort. I appreciate the discussion and gaining an understanding of your perspective on the matter.

    You have continuously either mischaracterized or lied about what I have posted and then argued against your own fabrications.

    My “faked Moon landing comment” was directed at YOUR assertion of some sort of petroleum geology conspiracy to hide the evidence of abiotic oil generation as part of some greater conspiracy to jack up oil prices.

    A recap of the actual discussion:

    James F. Evans:It is my contention and others share it, that the price of hydrocarbons is artifically high because of the concept of “peak” oil. So-called “peak” oil theory is entirely dependent on the “fossil” theory of petroleum formation, that is why you see “peak” oil supporters so vigorously object to Abiotic Oil Theory because it falsifies their whole “peak” oil argument because “peak” oil relies on the limited assumptions of supply dictated by the “fossil” theory.

    “Every ten or fifteen years since the late 1800’s, ‘experts’ have predicted that oil reserves would last only ten more years. These experts have predicted nine out of the last zero oil-reserve exhaustions.” — C. Maurice and C. Smithson, Doomsday Mythology: 10,000 Years of Economic Crisis, Hoover Institution Press, Stanford, 1984.

    This periodic crisis of impending “peak”, which has never come true, even today, has been based on the mistaken belief in the “fossil” theory of petroleum formation.

    My reply:

    Neither the Peak Oil nor the current paradigm of hydrocarbon formation theories have anything to do with product prices.

    Prices are the result of the market’s perception of production (supply) and consumption (demand) relative to the pricing currency. The key supply factor is excess production capacity.

    [...]

    James F. Evans:

    Some proponents of Abiotic Oil Theory claim that oil geologists working for the oil industry don’t want the idea of abiotic oil to become wide-spread in the general public because it would break the whole idea that oil is a scarce and limited resource and, thus, valuble product, so the oil industry and speculators (who take advantage of cycles of “peak” scaremongering to push up the price beyond what actual supply and demand would dictate in the international market or even the U. S. market) can charge more money.

    My reply:

    This notion that petroleum geologists are hiding the evidence for your pet theory is both idiotic and delusional. It makes the faked Moon landings and 911 conspiracy theories seem sane in comparison.

    My entire post was devoted to the evidence that the US has an effectively unlimited supply of oil.

    James F. Evans:

    All these factors are important when discussing the U. S. being ‘independent’.

    My reply:

    Those “factors” are no more relevant than faked Moon landing theories are relevant to a discussion of lunar geology.

    I don’t care one way or the other about the various abiotic hypotheses… They are IRRELEVANT to oil and gas exploration and production. They are no more relevant then the faked Moon landing theories are relevant to a discussion of lunar geology. That doesn’t make the propopnets of those hypotheses into conspiracists; it just makes them irrelevant.

    The hypotheses are irrelevant to where oil is found and do not constitute evidence that significant volumes of abiotic oil exist anywhere on Earth, irrespective of the validity of the hypotheses.

  125. Please, Mr. Middleton, other than my unintentional misquote where it should have been, “pulp industry journal,” instead of “pulp fiction, and I apologize for misquote, my characterization of your hostility to Abiotic Oil Theory is easy to see for any fair & objective reader.

    I am reporting the work of geoscientists and have provided two abstracts, one extended, and one full peer-reviewed published scientific paper which focussed on the natural analogs of the Fischer-Tropsch process known as the serpentinite mechanism or the serpentinite process (there are many more scientific papers on the same serpentinite mechanism, which I did not present).

    I also presented extended quotes from several other papers, but was not able to link those papers.

    Mr. Middleton attempted to discredit the Abiotic Oil Theory by making the comment, “Science fiction is not evidence.”

    Now, perhaps I misinterpreted who or what the above comment was directed at, but it seemed like Mr. Middleton was attempting to discredit the evidence relied on by geoscientists, who subscribe to Abiotic Oil Theory and, thus, indirectly those geoscientists’ professional integrity. Because, after all, what does it mean when Mr. Middleton writes, “Science fiction is not evidence”?

    In response I pointed out I was simply reporting those papers and that in effect Mr. Middleton was attacking the geoscientists and ignoring the facts & evidence those scientists presented:

    Evans wrote: “See, Mr. Middleton, I’m not engaging in science fiction, I’m simply pointing out the work of scientists who disagree with you.

    So, really, you aren’t saying I’m engaging in science fiction, you are accusing other scientists of engaging in science fiction.”

    Mr. Middleton responded: “I’m not accusing anyone of anything.”

    Okay, then, Mr. Middleton, what did the statement: “Science fiction is not evidence.” mean?

    And, please provide your analysis & interpretation of the Fischer-Tropsch process known as the serpentinite mechanism as it relates to the Abiotic Oil Theory.

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “While the exact process [of the diogenesis] is not perfectly understood…”

    It must be known, when Mr. Middleton acknowledges so-called “diogenesis” is “not perfectly understood”, he is acknowledging “fossil” theory subscribers don’t even know how so-called “souce” rock is formed and this so-called “source” rock is the very basis of their theory. And on the other hand, Abiotic Oil Theory knows exactly how this so-called “source” rock formed: Heavy hydrocarbons, C215H330, drop out of the petroleum as it moves vertically up through cracks and fissures in the deep crust into sedimentary deposits, and lighter hydrocarbons continue moving up through the stratigraphic column.

    So-called “diogenesis”, which as you above admit is “not prefectly understood”, while the Fischer-Tropsch process known as the serpentinite mechanism is well understood and scientifically constrained:

    Serpentinite synthesis

    A chemical basis for the abiotic petroleum process is the serpentinization of peridotite, beginning with methanogenesis via hydrolysis of olivine into serpentine in the presence of carbon dioxide. Olivine, composed of Forsterite and Fayalite metamorphoses into serpentine, magnetite and silica by the following reactions, with silica from fayalite decomposition (reaction 1a) feeding into the forsterite reaction (1b).

    Reaction 1a:
    Fayalite + water → Magnetite + aqueous silica + Hydrogen

    Reaction 1b:
    Forsterite + aqueous silica → Serpentinite

    When this reaction occurs in the presence of dissolved carbon dioxide (carbonic acid) at temperatures above 500 °C Reaction 2a takes place.

    Reaction 2a:
    Olivine + Water + Carbonic acid → Serpentine + Magnetite + Methane

    However, reaction 2(b) is just as likely, and supported by the presence of abundant talc-carbonate schists and magnesite stringer veins in many serpentinised peridotites;

    Reaction 2b:
    Olivine + Water + Carbonic acid → Serpentine + Magnetite + Magnesite + Silica

    The upgrading of methane to higher n-alkane hydrocarbons is via dehydrogenation of methane in the presence of catalyst transition metals (e.g. Fe, Ni). This can be termed spinel hydrolysis.

    Spinel polymerization mechanism

    Magnetite, chromite and ilmenite are Fe-spinel group minerals found in many rocks but rarely as a major component in non-ultramafic rocks. In these rocks, high concentrations of magmatic magnetite, chromite and ilmenite provide a reduced matrix which may allow abiotic cracking of methane to higher hydrocarbons during hydrothermal events.

    Chemically reduced rocks are required to drive this reaction and high temperatures are required to allow methane to be polymerized to ethane. Note that reaction 1a, above, also creates magnetite.

    Reaction 3:
    Methane + Magnetite → Ethane + Hematite

    Reaction 3 results in n-alkane hydrocarbons, including linear saturated hydrocarbons, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, aromatics, and cyclic compounds.

    I asked Mr. Middleton, given the scientific evidence supporting the serpentinite mechanism in the Earth’s crust, what would be the “limiting factor” for the serpentinite mechanism, considering many geologists, who subscribe to “fossil” theory, acknowledge the serpentinite mechanism produces hydrocarbons in the Earth’s crust, but only in limited, non-commerical amounts?

    And, instead of providing an answer regarding the Fischer-Tropsch, serpentinite process, Mr. Middleton gave this non-responsive answer:

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “The “limiting factor” is the volume of sedimentary rock in the Earth’s crust.”

    I take this response to be an argument in defense of the “fossil” theory, instead of addressing the limiting factor of the Fischer-Tropsch process in the Earth’s crust.

    Mr. Middleton doubles down on the same failure to answer the question: What is the limiting factor of the serpentinite process in the Earth’s crust:

    Evans wrote: “Seeing the Proskurowski, Lilley, Seewald et. al. abstract, there is evidence of abiotic methane through C4 formation, but as I stated, in my first comment, on this post, you, like your fellow oil geologists, never answer, “what is the limiting factor?”

    Mr. Middleton responded: “We answer it all the time. You either don’t like or don’t understand the answer.”

    False. Twice I’ve asked Mr. Middleton to explain what would be the physical limiting factor to the serpentinite, Fischer-Tropsch Type process with it’s full alkane hydrocarbon spectrum, as described by Peter Szatmari:

    Petroleum Formation by Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis in Plate Tectonics, by Peter Szatmari (1989)

    Szatmari wrote:
    “COMPARISON OF NATURAL AND SYNTHETIC OILS
    Several constituents of petroluem indicate that it may have formed by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. Crude oils, like oils produced by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, are mixtures of a very large number of hydrocarbon compounds whose chain length ranges from one (methane) to many carbon atoms. In petroleum, as in the products of Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, the number of molecules systematically decreases with increasing number of carbon atoms, reflecting the probabilities of chain growth and chain termination that characterize any polymerization process (Schulz-Flory distribution) (Figure 1). Early studies by Robinson (1963) and Friedel and Sharkey (1963, 1968) indicate that the distribution of normal and isoparaffins in crude oil follows the chain-growth and chain-branching probabilities of the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis.”

    Szatmari wrote:
    “Friedel and Sharkey (1963, 1968) found that the two parameters of the Fischer-Tropsch synthesis — the probability of chain lengthening and that of chain branching — accurately predict the abundance of isomers in Saudi Arabian oil, suggesting that it formed by Fischer-Tropsch synthesis and not by thermal breakdown of fossil organic matter.”

    And each time Mr. Middleton has failed to provided a responsive answer.

    Twice I’ve asked Mr. Middleton to provide an explanation why there are no “bio-markers” in the oil recovered from the crystalline basement (bedrock) in the Dnieper-Donets Basin as described by the scientific paper The Drilling & Development of the Oil & Gas Fields in the Dnieper-Donetsk Basin, V. A. Krayushkin, T. I. Tchebanenko, V. P. Klochko, Ye. S. Dvoryanin, Institute of Geological Sciences, O. Gonchara Street 55-B, 01054 Kiev, Ukraine, J. F. Kenney, Russian Academy of Sciences – Joint Institute of The Physics of the Earth, Moscow, Russia (2001):

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

    Mr. Middleton never did explain why there wasn’t any “bio-markers” in the oil.

    Mr. Middleton offers non-responsive answers to these facts & evidence and then attacks either myself, the scientists, or both.

    This discussion won’t decide the issue, do your own research (for any readers still following the thread).

    Mr. Middleton wrote: “The hypotheses are irrelevant to where oil is found and do not constitute evidence that significant volumes of abiotic oil exist anywhere on Earth, irrespective of the validity of the hypotheses.”

    The above statement is nonsense. If Abiotic Oil Theory is a valid hypothesis, which means there is significant volumes of abiotic oil on Earth, then it is relevant to where oil is found and the total amount of petroleum in the Earth’s crust.

    • You keep restating the hypothesis as if it is evidence of abiotic oil formation. The various hypotheses are fine. It’s the evidence and relevancy that are lacking.

      You continue to mischaractetrize what I have posted.

      And the only relevancy you can site for your continued restating ot the hypothesis is that you think the oil industry is engaged in some sort of conspiracty theory to hide the evidence of abiotic oil.

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