Shackling national security – and renewable energy

Now environmentalists say we need the minerals that they’ve been locking up for decades

Guest post by Paul Driessen

“China’s control of a key minerals market has US military thinkers and policy makers worried about access to materials that are essential for 21st-century technology like smartphones – and smart bombs,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Plus stealth fighter jets, digital cameras, computer hard drives – and wind turbine magnets, solar panels, hybrid and electric car batteries, compact fluorescent light bulbs, catalytic converters, and more.

China’s dominance in mining and processing 17 “rare earth” metals “has raised alarms in Washington,” says the Journal. These unique metallic elements have powerful magnetic properties that make them sine qua non for high-tech, miniaturized and renewable energy equipment.

China currently produces fully 97% of the world’s rare-earth oxides, the raw materials that can be refined into metals and blended into specialty alloys for defense, commercial and power-generation components. However, the Middle Kingdom has slashed its rare-earth oxide and metal exports.

Beijing claims to be motivated by environmental concerns – reflecting the fact that rare earths are present in very low concentrations, mountains of rock must be mined, crushed and processed to get usable metals, and every step in the process requires oil, gasoline or coal-based electricity. A more likely reason is that the Chinese want to manufacture the finished goods, thereby creating countless “green” factory jobs, paid for with US and EU taxpayer subsidies, channeled through GE, Siemens, Vestas and other “socially responsible” companies that then install the systems across Europe and the USA.

So here we are, long beholden to foreign powers for petroleum – and newly dependent on foreign powers for “green” energy. National security issues (direct defense needs and indirect dependency issues) once again rise to the fore, and the Defense Department, Government Accountability Office, House Science and Technology Committee and others are busily issuing reports, holding hearings and expressing consternation. Congressman Bart Gordon (D-TN) worries that the United States is being “held hostage.”

As well he should. However, the fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves – or more precisely in our militant environmentalists.

Back in 1978, I ruined a perfectly pleasant hike in a RARE-II roadless area, by asking an impertinent question. “How do you defend prohibiting any kind of energy or mineral exploration in wilderness study areas?” I asked Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Rupert Cutler and Forest Service Chief John McGuire, “The 1964 Wilderness Act expressly allows and encourages those activities, so that Congress and the American people can make informed decisions about how to manage these lands, based on extensive information about both surface and subsurface values. How do you defend ignoring that provision?”

“I don’t think Congress should have enacted that provision,” Dr. Cutler replied.

“That may be your opinion,” I responded. “But Congress did enact it, and you are obligated by your oath of office to follow the law the way it was written, not the way you think it should have been written.”

“I think we’ve said enough to this guy,” Cutler said to Chief McGuire, and they walked away.

A couple months later, I asked the Denver Sierra Club wilderness coordinator a related question: “Why are you focusing so heavily on areas with the best energy and mineral potential? Isn’t that going to impact prices, jobs and national security?”

“Americans use too much energy, and they’re not going to change voluntarily,” he said. “The only way to make them change is to take the resources away. And the best way to do that is put them in wilderness.”

And every other restrictive land use category that arrogant, thoughtless activists, bureaucrats, judges and politicians can devise, he might have added. Which is how we got where we are today.

As of 1994, over 410 million acres were effectively off limits to mineral exploration and development, according to consulting geologist Courtland Lee, who prepared probably the last definitive analysis, published in The Professional Geologist. That’s 62% of the nation’s public lands – an area nearly equal to Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming combined – primarily in Alaska and our eleven westernmost Lower 48 states. Today, sixteen years later, the situation is much worse – with millions more acres locked up in wilderness, park, preserve, wildlife refuge, wilderness study and other restrictive land use categories, or simply made unavailable by bureaucratic fiat or foot-dragging.

Due to forces unleashed by plate tectonics, these rugged lands contain some of the most highly mineralized mountain and desert areas in North America. They almost certainly hold dozens, perhaps hundreds, of world-class rare-earth deposits. The vast mineral wealth extracted from those areas since the mid-1850s portends what might still be there, to be discovered by modern prospecting gadgets and methods. But unless laws and attitudes change, we will never know.

How ironic. First eco-activists lock up the raw materials. Then they force-feed us “renewable energy standards” that require the very materials they’ve locked up, which we’ve never much needed until now. Thus China (and perhaps other countries a few years hence) will happily fill the breach, creating green jobs beyond our borders, selling us the finished components, and using our tax dollars to subsidize the imported wind turbines, solar panels and CFL bulbs that are driving energy costs through the roof.

Science historian James Burke became famous for chronicling the “Connections” between successions of past discoveries and achievements and various modern technologies. Unfortunately, today’s increasingly powerful and power-hungry activists, jurists, legislators and regulators cannot see the connection between their actions and the economic havoc they leave in their wake.

Of course, there is little incentive for them to do so. They know they will rarely be held accountable. Others may freeze jobless in the dark – but most of them will keep their jobs, perks, pensions, positions of power over our lives, economy and civil rights progress.

However, there are bright spots. The upcoming elections offer hope for a general House (and Senate) cleaning. A recent poll found that a third of all Americans don’t want to pay even $12 a year in higher energy costs, even to create “green” jobs or forestall Climate Armageddon. Many people are simply fed up – with Washington, and with constant assertions of imminent eco-catastrophes.

A steady stream of shale-gas discoveries in Europe and the United States suggests that we still have plentiful supplies of cheap natural gas. Evidence is mounting that petroleum is abiogenic in origin – and natural forces deep inside the Earth are constantly creating new hydrocarbons from elemental carbon and hydrogen. Both developments undermine a principle argument for pricey, land-intensive, intermittent wind and solar power: that we are running out of “fossil fuels.”

Just north of the Mojave Desert, near Mountain Pass, California, Molycorp is working to restart mining operations at the largest rare-earth deposit outside of China. They had been suspended in 2002, for economic, permitting and environmental reasons that have since been resolved. China’s Baotou Rare Earth Company was a happy beneficiary of the circumstances and US regulatory excesses.

Now there is hope that common sense will prevail at Mountain Pass, new processing methods will reduce costs and environmental impacts, and exploration may one day be permitted in areas locked up by Cutler & Company. Too many technologies depend on lanthanides to keep US deposits under lock and key.

Radical greens may not give a spotted owl hoot about military needs. But they may care enough about preserving their dream of a hydrocarbon-free future, while a few politicians may want to ensure that tens of billions in taxpayer subsidies for wind and solar power and electric cars don’t all head overseas.

___________

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.Cfact.org) and Congress of Racial Equality (www.CongressOfRacialEquality.org), and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death. He has degrees in geology, ecology and environmental law.

Greens shackle national security – and renewable energy

Now environmentalists say we need the minerals that they’ve been locking up for decades

Paul Driessen

China’s control of a key minerals market has US military thinkers and policy makers worried about access to materials that are essential for 21st-century technology like smartphones – and smart bombs,” the Wall Street Journal reports. Plus stealth fighter jets, digital cameras, computer hard drives – and wind turbine magnets, solar panels, hybrid and electric car batteries, compact fluorescent light bulbs, catalytic converters, and more.

China’s dominance in mining and processing 17 “rare earth” metals “has raised alarms in Washington,” says the Journal. These unique metallic elements have powerful magnetic properties that make them sine qua non for high-tech, miniaturized and renewable energy equipment.

China currently produces fully 97% of the world’s rare-earth oxides, the raw materials that can be refined into metals and blended into specialty alloys for defense, commercial and power-generation components. However, the Middle Kingdom has slashed its rare-earth oxide and metal exports.

Beijing claims to be motivated by environmental concerns – reflecting the fact that rare earths are present in very low concentrations, mountains of rock must be mined, crushed and processed to get usable metals, and every step in the process requires oil, gasoline or coal-based electricity. A more likely reason is that the Chinese want to manufacture the finished goods, thereby creating countless “green” factory jobs, paid for with US and EU taxpayer subsidies, channeled through GE, Siemens, Vestas and other “socially responsible” companies that then install the systems across Europe and the USA.

So here we are, long beholden to foreign powers for petroleum – and newly dependent on foreign powers for “green” energy. National security issues (direct defense needs and indirect dependency issues) once again rise to the fore, and the Defense Department, Government Accountability Office, House Science and Technology Committee and others are busily issuing reports, holding hearings and expressing consternation. Congressman Bart Gordon (D-TN) worries that the United States is being “held hostage.”

As well he should. However, the fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves – or more precisely in our militant environmentalists.

Back in 1978, I ruined a perfectly pleasant hike in a RARE-II roadless area, by asking an impertinent question. “How do you defend prohibiting any kind of energy or mineral exploration in wilderness study areas?” I asked Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Rupert Cutler and Forest Service Chief John McGuire, “The 1964 Wilderness Act expressly allows and encourages those activities, so that Congress and the American people can make informed decisions about how to manage these lands, based on extensive information about both surface and subsurface values. How do you defend ignoring that provision?”

I don’t think Congress should have enacted that provision,” Dr. Cutler replied.

That may be your opinion,” I responded. “But Congress did enact it, and you are obligated by your oath of office to follow the law the way it was written, not the way you think it should have been written.”

I think we’ve said enough to this guy,” Cutler said to Chief McGuire, and they walked away.

A couple months later, I asked the Denver Sierra Club wilderness coordinator a related question: “Why are you focusing so heavily on areas with the best energy and mineral potential? Isn’t that going to impact prices, jobs and national security?”

Americans use too much energy, and they’re not going to change voluntarily,” he said. “The only way to make them change is to take the resources away. And the best way to do that is put them in wilderness.”

And every other restrictive land use category that arrogant, thoughtless activists, bureaucrats, judges and politicians can devise, he might have added. Which is how we got where we are today.

As of 1994, over 410 million acres were effectively off limits to mineral exploration and development, according to consulting geologist Courtland Lee, who prepared probably the last definitive analysis, published in The Professional Geologist. That’s 62% of the nation’s public lands – an area nearly equal to Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming combined – primarily in Alaska and our eleven westernmost Lower 48 states. Today, sixteen years later, the situation is much worse – with millions more acres locked up in wilderness, park, preserve, wildlife refuge, wilderness study and other restrictive land use categories, or simply made unavailable by bureaucratic fiat or foot-dragging.

Due to forces unleashed by plate tectonics, these rugged lands contain some of the most highly mineralized mountain and desert areas in North America. They almost certainly hold dozens, perhaps hundreds, of world-class rare-earth deposits. The vast mineral wealth extracted from those areas since the mid-1850s portends what might still be there, to be discovered by modern prospecting gadgets and methods. But unless laws and attitudes change, we will never know.

How ironic. First eco-activists lock up the raw materials. Then they force-feed us “renewable energy standards” that require the very materials they’ve locked up, which we’ve never much needed until now. Thus China (and perhaps other countries a few years hence) will happily fill the breach, creating green jobs beyond our borders, selling us the finished components, and using our tax dollars to subsidize the imported wind turbines, solar panels and CFL bulbs that are driving energy costs through the roof.

Science historian James Burke became famous for chronicling the “Connections” between successions of past discoveries and achievements and various modern technologies. Unfortunately, today’s increasingly powerful and power-hungry activists, jurists, legislators and regulators cannot see the connection between their actions and the economic havoc they leave in their wake.

Of course, there is little incentive for them to do so. They know they will rarely be held accountable. Others may freeze jobless in the dark – but most of them will keep their jobs, perks, pensions, positions of power over our lives, economy and civil rights progress.

However, there are bright spots. The upcoming elections offer hope for a general House (and Senate) cleaning. A recent poll found that a third of all Americans don’t want to pay even $12 a year in higher energy costs, even to create “green” jobs or forestall Climate Armageddon. Many people are simply fed up – with Washington, and with constant assertions of imminent eco-catastrophes.

A steady stream of shale-gas discoveries in Europe and the United States suggests that we still have plentiful supplies of cheap natural gas. Evidence is mounting that petroleum is abiogenic in origin – and natural forces deep inside the Earth are constantly creating new hydrocarbons from elemental carbon and hydrogen. Both developments undermine a principle argument for pricey, land-intensive, intermittent wind and solar power: that we are running out of “fossil fuels.”

Just north of the Mojave Desert, near Mountain Pass, California, Molycorp is working to restart mining operations at the largest rare-earth deposit outside of China. They had been suspended in 2002, for economic, permitting and environmental reasons that have since been resolved. China’s Baotou Rare Earth Company was a happy beneficiary of the circumstances and US regulatory excesses.

Now there is hope that common sense will prevail at Mountain Pass, new processing methods will reduce costs and environmental impacts, and exploration may one day be permitted in areas locked up by Cutler & Company. Too many technologies depend on lanthanides to keep US deposits under lock and key.

Radical greens may not give a spotted owl hoot about military needs. But they may care enough about preserving their dream of a hydrocarbon-free future, while a few politicians may want to ensure that tens of billions in taxpayer subsidies for wind and solar power and electric cars don’t all head overseas.

___________

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.Cfact.org) and Congress of Racial Equality (www.CongressOfRacialEquality.org), and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death. He has degrees in geology, ecology and environmental law.

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133 thoughts on “Shackling national security – and renewable energy

  1. Thank you very much, Paul, for this very important information.
    Where is this craziness taking us?

  2. It should be remembered that “rare earth” elements is really a misnomer and the elements vary widely in their distribution and composition as part of the Earth’s crust. The term goes back to previous eras wherein the elements were “rarely” concentrated for anything, many inorganic chemists today don’t even use the term.
    “Environmentalists” will hamper anything excepting the volume and shrillness of their demands, people who work for a living and actually contribute something to the betterment of humanity just need to work around them as best they can.
    Plug for my own energy vision for the US: Covert coal to syngas, then syngas to methanol or Fischer-Troepsch oil as diesel fuel or methanol to gasoline. Should last for a few hundred years to develop a hydrogen economy in the meanwhile. Quit horsing around with “renewable” stuff in unworkable markets excepting a thorium cycle.
    /end digression

  3. As a semiconductor engineer by profession I can say that the usage of these exotic metals is only increasing. The cost of these materials is immense, especially for semiconductor grade. These rare earth metals are useful because of their unusual properties. If the United States does not develop their own natural resources we will once again be forced to give up our money and our jobs to foreign countries to our detriment and their benefit.
    Once again we could be funding those that will oppose our way of life and especially our freedoms. China does not believe in free speech and the penalty for using free speech can be severe. The Middle East opposes the freedom of religion that is enjoyed in this country and those same people have greatly benefited from our money as we buy oil from them, China seems to be well placed to play that role for the next century if we once again refuse to use the resources abundantly available in our own country.
    Freeing those resources would also allow long term and productive jobs to grow once again in this country. More advanced technology is allowing more efficient uses of the energy available. It is critical for the United States to develop both the resources and the technology of the future. The singular greatest advantage of the United States is the ability for those with great ideas to personally benefit from those ideas. Allowing Americans to reap the benefits of responsibly developing these resources will be best for Americans and in the end the best thing for the planet.
    Thanks,
    John Kehr
    The Inconvenient Skeptic

  4. “Evidence is mounting that petroleum is abiogenic in origin – and natural forces deep inside the Earth are constantly creating new hydrocarbons from elemental carbon and hydrogen.”
    ==========================================================
    Links please. I have a 20 year old bet to settle!

  5. “Americans use too much energy”
    That right there is the crux of the biscuit (sorry, Frank). No, we do not use too much energy. We could have all the energy we want right now with the technology at hand. Energy could be so plentiful and so cheap they would be begging us to buy it.
    Modern nuclear power with reprocessed fuel, where the reprocessing is done on the same site as the generating plant so nothing ever leaves the plant until it is utterly and completely useless could produce so much energy that “conservation” would seem silly in most contexts such as homes. We could then electrify rail transport and eventually vehicle transport along with practically all the energy used in homes greatly reducing the amount of oil and coal used in this country.

  6. Thank you for the article, Paul. I’ve been interested in the idea of abiogenic gas and oil since the early 80s, when the Atlantic magazine had a lengthy story about the work of Thomas Gold and the search for deep oil beneath igneous layers. I’ve thought about it more recently in connection with the deep oil and gas recently discovered in the Bakken Shale here in North Dakota.
    I’d be interested to know whether petroleum geologists are moving significantly toward abiogenesis as the best explanation for many deep gas and oil deposits. Not being formally trained in geology, I have to look to experts on this, but I would really like to see more discussion on the topic.

  7. Caught between a rock and a hard place indeed. They are rare by price. China produces cheaply, sells at what the market will bear and reaps huge profits
    Why does china produce cheaply, no envrionment impact assessments, low regulation, cheap labour, cheap machinery.
    Technology and process overcomes the economic advantage but the control/ licensing issue, impossible.

  8. There’s another way to look at this problem–as an opportunity. China is not the only country with these metals. They also exist in parts of Africa and Latin America. So there will be competition for them. And if we have them sequestered away, then we’ll have them last and will get the best price.
    The author is right about the folly of our policy–but it’s not fatal.

  9. Certainly it must cost more to raze a mountain and process the ore than process every single piece of electronics that goes to the dumps. At some point some people were doing it for the gold in the old computers. Maybe it is about time we think of recycling the rare earth metals from all electronics junk.

  10. “Americans use too much energy, and they’re not going to change voluntarily,” he said. “The only way to make them change is to take the resources away. And the best way to do that is put them in wilderness.”
    Hmmmm…..no pressure!

  11. It’s becoming increasingly clear to people that environmentalists and leftists DO see the connections, that they’re causing economic havoc purposefully. They don’t care who they hurt, as long as it’s people who are hurt and not plants or animals or natural rock formations. They seem to take special delight when American are hurt though.

  12. Evidence is mounting that petroleum is abiogenic in origin – and natural forces deep inside the Earth are constantly creating new hydrocarbons from elemental carbon and hydrogen.
    Yes, Links please. And, not the recently rediscovered papers of the two Russian Scientists back in 1959.
    And, my final question is: When can we go back down there and “re-drill” the East Texas Oil Field. It peaked in the Early 70’s, and has been declining since, I believe.

  13. Warren Mayer *on the blogroll* recently published an article which was reprinted in Forbes, “Why are the Democrats promising to raise taxes?”
    In it he says: “We should be thrilled that the Chinese government and its people see fit to spend their own money to subsidize lower prices for American businesses and consumers.”
    Well, This is one reason we’re Not “Thrilled.”

  14. Aus is no different here – in fact,one of our most prospective areas for metalliferous deposits (including the rare earths) is deliberately locked up as a huge National Park and it is illegal to run even airborne geophysical sensitivity surveys
    This is the modern, and green, equivalent to mediaeval book burning

  15. Paul Driessen’s powerful essay, delivered by Anthony’s powerful blog, stands a very good chance of having a powerful effect. It is a challenge to single-element beliefs; in fact shows up those who ply them as shallow, if not absolutely evil. Paul has provided a balance (with examples) in this essay which will add a sense of comfort to all who seek to disentangle from the suffocating mesh woven by zealots and carperbaggers alike.
    (And an added bonus for me: abiotic oil is again on the agenda for discussion. Yes!)

  16. A country without an industrial policy loses when it comes up against a country with one. What a surprise. The wrong kind of people (lawyers) are running the country. The Chinese don’t want lawyerly fair rules for everyone. They want to win because losing means you are poor. The smug, complacent elites in the west have lost the plot. They have forgotten – or don’t want to admit – what made US and Europe rich in the first place.
    Rare earths are not rare. China gained a temporary monopoly on them by keeping the price low and now acts like any monopolist. I actually agree with them that rare earth metals have been under-priced. Mostly they are just about making permanent magnet electric motors smaller. Well there are technical answers to that. The answer to high prices is always high prices which is triggering increased supply from elsewhere and more economical use whether it’s rare earths or oil or food or anything.

  17. Jeff Id has an interesting post on corruption, as it relates to Government Motors (see: http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/corruption/ ). It resonated with me as I had just read a piece from Fox News on the regulatory nightmares that businesses face on a regular basis. (see: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/10/01/science-kit-makers-battle-feds-safety-tests-paper-clips/ ).
    As I was reading it, something jumped out at me. I’ve seen this so many times it never really registered; after all, we see this argument all the time and they make it sound all so reasonable:

    Commissioners insist the regulations will not ban science kits and would be applied on a case-by-case basis.

    Good luck if you’re a businessman trying to fathom what today’s regulatory mood might be, when rulings are rendered on a case-by-case basis! Will some inept bureaucrat come in to work today hung over and render a ruling unfavorable to you after having ruled differently with one of your competitors? How do you plan ahead? What will be the mood next year? next month? next week? tomorrow? an hour from now? How do you plan investments or production schedules if your fate is dependent on some third-rate paper-pusher’s ability to handle his alcohol (or control his bowel movements). The real miracle is that we have an economy as advanced as it is despite all the regulations that have been thrown at businesses all these years.
    It is the sanctimonious self-righteousness of bureaucrats such as Dr. Cutler who have ridden roughshod over hard-working businessmen all these years. There have got to be easier ways of making a living than spending all your waking hours acquiring venture capital that has to be spent on lawyers filling out reams of papers to be filed with some bureaucratic slug, in the hopes that you will be permitted to work 100-hour work weeks on getting your mine up and operating.

  18. “Americans use too much energy, and they’re not going to change voluntarily,” he said. “The only way to make them change is to take the resources away. And the best way to do that is put them in wilderness.”
    I would suggest that there is an implied suggestion that these resources will be used in the future by someone other than americans.

  19. I have this vague recollection that the desert area set aside for “wilderness” at the behest of Diane Feinstein was an alternate source for some rare earth that her husband’s company was getting from China. I may not have that exactly correct. Does that jog any memories out there?

  20. “Americans use too much energy, and they’re not going to change voluntarily,” he said. “The only way to make them change is to take the resources away. And the best way to do that is put them in wilderness.”

    Oh, baloney. Youtube or he never said it.
    Actually, I’ll take a flier and doubt there was ever any conversation. Did this “Denver Sierra Club wilderness coordinator” have a name?
    There’s lots of government-owned wilderness out west, and none of it has any oil – if it did the oil would have been pumped already.
    Your whole post is incoherent.
    Rare earths have what to do with fossil fuel? Nothing.

  21. Kum Dollison says:
    October 2, 2010 at 10:40 pm
    Evidence is mounting that petroleum is abiogenic in origin – and natural forces deep inside the Earth are constantly creating new hydrocarbons from elemental carbon and hydrogen.
    Yes, Links please. And, not the recently rediscovered papers of the two Russian Scientists back in 1959.
    And, my final question is: When can we go back down there and “re-drill” the East Texas Oil Field. It peaked in the Early 70′s, and has been declining since, I believe.

    This might interest you:
    http://www.science-frontiers.com/sf124/sf124p10.htm
    And these too:
    http://sci.tech-archive.net/Archive/sci.geo.geology/2005-04/msg00020.html
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/35642245/Eugene-Island-330

  22. @Tom Fuller says: October 2, 2010 at 10:20 pm
    China has well established mining connections with African & S American countries;
    “The world’s largest mining companies have reportedly approached the UN and the World Bank to prevent China from freezing them out of Africa.” http://www.sawfnews.com/Business/32806.aspx
    “China has been gaining an economic foothold in Latin America for about a decade, as the United States focused on other areas, establishing cultural and commercial ties in countries that supply the commodities it needs to maintain growth. Just as it has on the African continent, China is maneuvering in Latin America to secure the raw materials it needs to build roadways, railways and even cities.” http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0143978920080102
    China is not buying on the world market but securing its supply by investing in the countries with the ore deposits and controling the mining operations. IMO your optimism may be unfounded, certainly in the short term.

  23. Leon said
    quote
    Good luck if you’re a businessman trying to fathom what today’s regulatory mood might be, when rulings are rendered on a case-by-case basis! Will some inept bureaucrat come in to work today hung over and render a ruling unfavorable to you after having ruled differently with one of your competitors?
    Unquote
    Talk about full circle, dont the Thompsons is Australia know all about that.

  24. There is a fine line between being held hostage and selling out to hostage takers.
    One is sheer stupidity, and the other is something else entirely.
    Or, just maybe, they like how China is run, and want to impose that here.
    But why answer the question? Just get rid of the vermin in November. They are bad news no matter what they have been up to. Our economy will surely benefit from the departure of the sequestarians.

  25. These idiots sincerely believe that all forms of resource extraction are evil. They also think that water comes from a tap, and food from the grocery store.
    I sometimes despair for grandchildren’s future. My only hope is that politicians that pander to these fools don’t really believe in this idiocy and will do the right thing when the time comes to choose between environmentalist votes and lives of the rest of us – thin stuff indeed.

  26. “Americans use too much energy”
    Who made that guy GOD? Where does he get the right to tell others how to live?
    Would he accept being told how to live by….George Bush?
    Thanks
    JK

  27. Abiogenic hydrocarbons is a lot like AGW and cold fusion. I would not count on it any time soon. I do know of some great shale gas and CBM plays on the auction block. The “rare earth” elements are that, rare but like most things, if the price is high enough ore grades do get discovered. Mr. Driessen makes many valid points. I would argue, if resources now recognized to be valuable, were locked up at time when they were not, it is as much the fault of capital flight and sometimes shoddy work by miners, as environmental activism. Responsibility for the situation Driessen describes must be shared. Like all political, social and natural science questions, this is a complex issue that unfortunately has only complex answers. It is a lot like this climate business in more ways then we may think at first glance.

  28. Doug in Seattle says:
    October 3, 2010 at 12:19 am
    These idiots sincerely believe that all forms of resource extraction are evil. They also think that water comes from a tap, and food from the grocery store.
    I sometimes despair for grandchildren’s future. My only hope is that politicians that pander to these fools don’t really believe in this idiocy and will do the right thing when the time comes to choose between environmentalist votes and lives of the rest of us – thin stuff indeed.

    Yes, but you do realize —do you not— that the only way to get rid of them is for one hell of a tragic event to happen wherein THEY get to exercise their belief system, and in the process manage to die-off, leaving the rest of us to pick up the pieces and carry on as before.
    THEY speak of ‘culling’ the human ‘herd.’
    Well, would it not be a most appropriate — and fitting turn of events wherein they get to exercise their political thoughts, and end up dying instead of the rest of us?

  29. Grey Lensman says:
    October 2, 2010 at 11:01 pm
    “Lots of dead dinosaurs on Titan. How did the oil get there?”
    Really? Oil on Titan. References please. Remember methane does not count as oil.

  30. Duncan – scepticism is good but I don’t think that scathing and speculative dismissiveness has a lot going for it. The connection between rare minerals and fossil fuels? The amount of fossil fuels required to discover, remove and supply . . .

  31. This long titled paper is interesting. The authors assert that chemical thermal dynamic analysis can be used to determine whether a chemical reaction will or will not occur, at a specific temperature and pressure. (This is basic advanced chemical analysis.) They assert that using chemical thermal dynamic analysis, that it can be shown that long chain hydrocarbon molecules (that constitute crude oil) will not spontaneously be formed, except at great pressures (at depths greater than 100 km). Then they perform an experiment that produces long chain hydrocarbons using a diamond anvil that can recreate the pressure at great depths.
    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/99/17/10976
    As most are aware the moon was formed by a Mars sized object that struck the early earth. That impact removed light elements from the earth’s crust. The earth’s mantel has very low concentrations of light elements such as hydrogen and carbon. Where then is the source of hydrogen and carbon to form the planet’s atmosphere and the oceans. The thin veneer hypothesis posits that the planet’s atmosphere was formed after the big splat by the late impact of comets. The earth’s atmosphere’s composition however does not match that of comets. It was therefore hypothesized that the comets which formed the earth’s atmosphere came from a cloud from a different proto-star that happened to be in the vicinity of the solar system at its time of formation. The alternative theory (to explain the origin of the earth’s oceans and atmosphere) which past and recent analysis supports is correct, is the deep hydrocarbon hypothesis that has the core of the earth as the source of the hydrocarbon.
    The deep hydrocarbon hypothesis is more than just what is the source of hydrocarbons that formed natural gas and crude oil.
    Sloan Deep Carbon Workshop (Sponsored by the US department of Energy)
    https://www.gl.ciw.edu/workshops/sloan_deep_carbon_workshop_may_2008
    From a paper that was presented at the Sloan Deep Carbon workshop.
    “To date, consideration of the global carbon cycle has focused primarily on near-surface (i.e., relatively low-pressure and temperature) phenomena, with the tacit assumption that oceans, atmosphere and shallow surface environments represent an essentially closed system with respect to biologically available carbon. However, recent data and theoretical analyses from a variety of sources suggest that this assumption may be false. Experimental discoveries of facile high-pressure and temperature organic synthesis and complex interactions between organic molecules and minerals, field observations of deep microbial ecosystems and of anomalies in petroleum geochemistry, and theoretical models of lower crust and upper mantle carbon sources and sinks demand a careful reappraisal of the deep carbon cycle.”
    The abiogenic theory of the formation of crude oil and natural gas has commercial implications.

    The abiogenic formation of natural gas explains why Qatar a small peninsula in the Middle East has 15% percent of the planet’s “natural gas”. The Arabian Peninsula is located at the intersection of three crustal plains. The Russian have used very deep drilling techniques to find “natural gas” (CH4).
    “Qatar also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is an Arab country, known officially as an emirate, in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south; otherwise, the Persian Gulf surrounds the state. A strait of the Persian Gulf separates Qatar from the nearby island nation of Bahrain.”
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/cabs/Qatar/NaturalGas.html
    “Qatar’s proven natural gas reserves stood at approximately 890 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) as of January 1, 2009. Qatar holds almost 15 percent of total world natural gas reserves and is the third-largest in the world behind Russia and Iran. The majority of Qatar’s natural gas is located in the massive offshore North Field, the world’s largest non-associated natural gas field. The North Field is a geologic extension of Iran’s South Pars field, which holds an additional 450 Tcf of recoverable natural gas reserves.”

  32. crosspatch says:
    October 2, 2010 at 10:00 pm
    Good post.
    We have the ability to develope inexpensive and abundant energy and resources, and we would do it with greater conservation then China. In a now global economy, if we do not, someone else will, often with far greater cost to Gia (and to the US and european economies) then if we develope our own resources.

  33. We need these elements so the mobile phones owned by environmentalists will keep working.
    China is not the only source. America was a big producer, before being shut down by- you guessed it, environmentalists. Nigeria produces some, by bucket and spade so much development needed. Australia has some and probably a lot if exploration was increased. Canada and Russia must have some as it would seem that they are found in the ancient cratons of the planet.

  34. If you are interested in the abiogenic theory of the formation of crude oil, natural gas, the oceans, and the atmosphere, I would highly recommend Thomas Gold’s “The Deep Hot Biosphere : The Myth of Fossil Fuels”.
    http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Hot-Biosphere-Fossil-Fuels/dp/0387952535
    The following is an excerpt from Thomas Gold’s book the Deep Hot Biosphere which that outlines some of the observations which supports an abiogenic origin (non-biological, primeval origin), for petroleum, natural gas, as well the source of the hydrogen to form the planet’s oceans.
    ” (1) Petroleum and methane are found frequently in geographic patterns of long lines or arcs, which are related more to deep-seated large-scale structural features of the crust, than to the smaller scale patchwork of the sedimentary deposits.
    (2) Hydrocarbon-rich areas tend to be hydrocarbon-rich at many different levels, corresponding to quite different geological epochs, and extending down to the crystalline basement that underlies the sediment. An invasion of an area by hydrocarbon fluids from below could better account for this than the chance of successive deposition.
    (3) Some petroleum from deeper and hotter levels almost completely lack the biological evidence. Optical activity and the odd-even carbon number effect are sometimes totally absent, and it would be difficult to suppose that such a thorough destruction of the biological molecules had occurred as would be required to account for this, yet leaving the bulk substance quite similar to other crude oils.
    (4) Methane is found in many locations where a biogenic origin is improbable or where biological deposits seem inadequate: in great ocean rifts in the absence of any substantial sediments; in fissures in igneous and metamorphic rocks, even at great depth; in active volcanic regions, even where there is a minimum of sediments; and there are massive amounts of methane hydrates (methane-water ice combinations) in permafrost and ocean deposits, where it is doubtful that an adequate quantity and distribution of biological source material is present.
    (5) The hydrocarbon deposits of a large area often show common chemical or isotopic features, quite independent of the varied composition or the geological ages of the formations in which they are found. Such chemical signatures may be seen in the abundance ratios of some minor constituents such as traces of certain metals that are carried in petroleum; or a common tendency may be seen in the ratio of isotopes of some elements, or in the abundance ratio of some of the different molecules that make up petroleum. Thus a chemical analysis of a sample of petroleum could often allow the general area of its origin to be identified, even though quite different formations in that area may be producing petroleum. For example a crude oil from anywhere in the Middle East can be distinguished from an oil originating in any part of South America, or from the oils of West Africa; almost any of the oils from California can be distinguished from that of other regions by the carbon isotope ratio.”

  35. Just for the record Rare Earth Elements (REEs) are, relatively speaking, not that rare. Anyone interested in this topic should check out Reimann and Caritat, 1998, Chemical Elements in the Environment, Springer-Verlag. This volume synthesizes work by others on the abundance of most elements. For those unable to find this reference I would point out that for all REEs, with the exception of Pm (promethium), their average crustal abundances from three studies are recorded . All REEs, except Pm, are more common than such elements as gold, silver and mercury. Some such as La, which is used as a cracking agent in refineries, Ce which is used in pollution control systems, and Nd, the element used to make light weight magnets, are more common in the crust than lead and depending on the study are more common than copper (Wedepohl 1995).
    As Dennis Nickols P. Geol points out above if the price goes up ore grades will be found.
    IMHO the current situation with the Chinese is similar to OPEC back in the seventies. As OPEC put the boots to the industrialised world by raising oil prices explorers went to work and found new sources of oil. So although some, like National Geographic Magazine, predicted in the seventies that oil would reach over $200/bbl before the year 2000 this never occurred. The Chinese through restricting the supply of REEs have created the conditions by which their monopoly will be broken.
    I suspect within 5-10 years time the Chinese will no longer hold a monopoly on REEs and their prices in real terms will have declined.
    Gee I wonder if Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren are up for a bet.

  36. OMG, don’t let this abiotic thing resurface! We had a go at it a while back, and it was an awkward exchange, in which the true believers did not know the basics of petroleum geology or production, but did not let that get in their way. Perhaps Ric Werme with his excellent archiving can dredge it up, though like a stinking black shale it would be more pleasant to leave it buried.
    Ok, in respect for the good science seen on this board, I’ll do a blurb:
    I find this belief amazing in light of the fact that the most successful trend in hydrocarbon exploration is drilling horizontal wells and frac’ing the heck out of organic shales. Huge reserves of natural gas have been established, and a fair bit of oil too. These wells drill exactly where the biotic theory would tell one to drill, and exactly where deep abiotic hydrocarbons would never be able to migrate into. The proof is in the production—one theory has reversed our declining gas reserves dramatically, one has only piqued the interest of some internet posters.
    Yea there is such a thing a abiotic methane. I can tell you though, from 25 years of looking for and finding oil, that most is clearly biotic in origin.
    There are complex trace long chain molecules, known as biomarkers present in the oil. They are basically fossils on a molecular level. We can trace these biomarkers directly to the source rock, and often trace then directly to the organism, and determine the age, environment of deposition of the organic matter.
    I can show you side by side basins in Indonesia, one with a layer of organic rich black shale deposited in a lake 35 million years ago, and full of the fossil remains of the algea bottriococcus. The other basin lacks the organic rich layer.
    Surprise! the basin with the organic layer is full of oil, and the oil is full of the same long chain hydrocarbons as the bottriococus remains. The other basin is barren.
    How did those deep mantle hydrocarbons know to only migrate into the basin with the algal rich rock?
    As far as fields recharging themselves, this phenomenon is perfectly compatible with organic sources. Producing the oil in a field only removes about 30% of the oil in place, but it reduces the pressure and induces more oil to migrate in from the source rocks. Even without a mass of fractured horizontal boreholes, the hydrocarbons will migrate toward the depleted area, and in some fields, this happens in a human time scale. Often it does not even have to come very far. My wife has done research ito oil charged microporosity and found many large field have oil in micropores which does not get produced in the first extraction. Deplete the fluids in the large pores, and some will move out and become producible.
    Anyway, enough on the subject. It the risk of sounding condescending, one should read some basic texts on Petroleum Geology, Petroleum Geochemistry, and Hydrocarbon Production, prior to deciding an entire body of science, which continues to be successfully applied, is faulty.

  37. Doug says:
    October 3, 2010 at 3:38 am
    Thanks for pointing that out Doug. The believers in the abiotic origin of oil need to given a good healthy dose of facts to get them back on track.

  38. Doug says:
    October 3, 2010 at 3:38 am
    “Anyway, enough on the subject. It the risk of sounding condescending, one should read some basic texts on Petroleum Geology, Petroleum Geochemistry, and Hydrocarbon Production, prior to deciding an entire body of science, which continues to be successfully applied, is faulty.”
    See Doug, this is one reason that the AGW establishment cheeses people off. It dismisses all contrarian arguments and seeks to shut down debate. I’m not saying I want that debate, and if I did, I’m not sure this would be the place for it. What I am saying is that you are behaving, in principle, little differently from those you probably abhor when they speak out on AGW.
    Besides, doing what you are doing only serves to pique interest and so is counterproductive. And yes, it does make you sound condescending though I’m sure you aren’t.

  39. Ray says:
    October 2, 2010 at 10:24 pm
    Certainly it must cost more to raze a mountain and process the ore than process every single piece of electronics that goes to the dumps. At some point some people were doing it for the gold in the old computers. Maybe it is about time we think of recycling the rare earth metals from all electronics junk.

    =================================
    Not necessarily. Also, the use of these materials is growing rapidly, due in large part to the push for EV’s and other “environmentally friendly” technology, so even if you did recycle it all it would only amount to a small fraction of the demand. It’s a real conundrum for the true believers. The problem is that they typically can’t see beyond the end of their pointy little noses, which is why we are constantly assailed by daily “save the planet/whale/walrus/owl/snaildarter…………” fads. They simply cannot comprehend that there are consequences to rationing (which is what they are trying to do ), that may not fit into their neat little Utopian agenda.

  40. Redneck,
    In New Zealand the Government’s mineral regulators now class methane as “petroleum”, and in order to produce it you now need a petroleum mining permit. In addition to explore for it you need a petroleum exploration permit.
    So is methane a form of petroleum? Depends on who you ask!

  41. Keep in mind that we do not burn crude oil in our cars and planes, we burn a product that is made by breaking down and re-combining hydrocarbons from crude oil. However, other sources of hydrocarbons can also be used such as coal, agricultural wastes and sewage sludge. The only issue is the cost of the finished fuel product.
    The truth is that we are awash in hydrocarbon resources. In a free market, that is free to also use suitable conversion technologies, the concept of “peak oil” is shown to be a fraud and a useful agenda driver as opposed to a meaningful truth about the availability of motor vehicle fuels.

  42. The US has been shut down by environmentalists? Stop looking at your belly button. The last time I looked the US military didn’t seem to be short of supplies, other than maybe taxpayer’s money.
    China is doing what any smart country needing to grow its economy would do. Identify key markets, attempt to establish a monopoly, secure raw materials. Reminds me of Britian, the US, …

  43. Michael Larkin says:{October 3, 2010 at 3:55 am}
    “See Doug, this is one reason that the AGW establishment cheeses people off. It dismisses all contrarian arguments and seeks to shut down debate. I’m not saying I want that debate, and if I did, I’m not sure this would be the place for it. What I am saying is that you are behaving, in principle, little differently from those you probably abhor when they speak out on AGW.”
    I think Doug speaks of time proven science and applications of that science whereas AGW is based on projections of incomplete models. Quite a difference.

  44. Evidence is mounting that petroleum is abiogenic in origin – and natural forces deep inside the Earth are constantly creating new hydrocarbons from elemental carbon and hydrogen.
    ——————————————–
    And there is a bigger chunk of evidence that oil is biological in origin.
    Abiogenic petroloeum seems like wishful thinking by the sounds of things.
    Anyone have an idea of the stable state of Carbon and hydrogen at deep subsurface temperature and pressures. Is it methane or graphite? In other words what does the chemical thermodynamics say?
    So let’s get this rare earth thing right. The Chinese mine their Rare Earths then sell them to you as cheap finished products. Can’t see that this is a problem from a national security perspective. On the other hand the USA conserves it’s untapped reserves, maybe.

  45. Global Warming — The Current Status: The Science, the Scandal, the Prospects for a Treaty
    Speaker/Performer: Richard Muller, Professor, Dept. of Physics, UC Berkeley
    Abstract:
    Recent events in the field of climate change have confused both the public and many “experts.” I will try to elucidate what has been happening. Two out of three climate groups show no global warming for the past 13 years. What does that mean? Why does the third group (led by Jim Hansen) disagree? Why was there no treaty at Copenhagen? (It wasn’t political, but technical!) Why do we hear so little about the Copenhagen follow-up meeting, this December in Cancun? What really happened in the Climategate scandal? How serious are the mistakes that embarrassed the IPCC (e.g. their claim that the Himalayas might melt in a few decades, subsequently retracted)? How reliable are the predictions of future global warming?

  46. Rob R says:
    October 3, 2010 at 4:35 am
    How the New Zealand government chooses to classify methane for the purposes of exploration permitting is of little consequence regarding theories on the abiogenic origin of petroleum. What I really want to know is what is Grey Lensman’s source or reference for his statement at 11:01 indicating the presence of oil on Titan. Maybe you can help out.

  47. Duncan (12:00am) says that rare earths metals (REMs) have nothing to do with fossil fuels.
    Well, Duncan, we’re told we must switch to “green” technologies to curtail our use of such fuels. But the viability of many “green” technologies – especially electric cars, low energy light bulbs and windmills – depends largely on rare earth metals. So, if supplies are curtailed, we may be forced to burn fossil fuels after all. (And we may find those lovely iPhones etc. are no longer available.)
    Get it?

  48. Note the arrogance of the Sierra Club, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture and the Forest Service Chief with the attitude they can force the American people into submission to their plans and the rogue attitude of those holding government office ignoring their oaths of office and the law. Congress passed those laws and the laws are a result of representation. If government officials can ignore the laws then the will of the people mean nothing. How do they get away with this, because our elected representatives allow it. And we elect them.

  49. Grey Lensman says:
    October 3, 2010 at 4:08 am
    > I would humbly suggest that there is more than one way to crack an egg.
    This is sort of a loaded question, but presumably there are petroleum sources (discounting methane!) that lack biogenic markers. The loaded part is that if all the petroleum geologists are looking for biotic source and not looking for abiotic sources, the sample will be well skewed toward biotic sources. I seem to recall from past discussions that some of the deep wells in the Gulf of Mexico or Brasil may have been claimed to be abiotic. Fuzzy memory.

  50. “Americans use too much energy, and they’re not going to change voluntarily. The only way to make them change is to take the resources away. And the best way to do that is put them in wilderness.”
    Control. Coerce. Don’t give people a choice. Your “betters” believe they have the moral authority to put you in a plantation shack and demand that you do their bidding, yet you’ll notice that they never seems to put themselves in a shack or make real personal sacrifices for the cause. Stop listening to them. They are morally and intellectually bankrupt.

  51. Another name for oil is hydrocarbons, for good reason.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100921144133.htm
    This clearly tells us the Universe has different ways of making oil or if you like hydrocarbons.
    As we can make bio-diesel we also make syncrude (South African process). So it seems very possible that here conventional full spectrum crude is made both bio and non bio.
    Polarisation only has limited uses. Its best to keep and open mind. Thats how Russia found some very deep oil.

  52. May not matter – superatom ensembles should be able to replace rare earths. No good as structural materials – the strength to weight ratios would be terrible, but fine for low strength applications and catalysts.

  53. How can a country with a mere 30% of the world’s coal reserves not be energy independent? And who knows how much oil reserves, the last time we updated our reserves was in the 70s using 70s technology.
    Or with some of the most advanced nuclear technology on earth.
    Makes no sense does it. Unless of course you are a leftist.

  54. Is it just me thinking that, assuming there is at least some justification for declaring areas wilderness (ignoring the costs) – they’re nice to have – then perhaps the solution to mining in wilderness areas is to spend a bit extra and do it without showing anything above ground? If we have to, it is not beyond our abilities to hollow out a mountain and support it from the inside, all without a sign on the outside to show we were ever there.
    The really important ‘resource’ that is genuinely protected by wilderness zoning is the old growth forest that idiots want to cut down and use for timber.

  55. Doug says:
    October 3, 2010 at 3:38 am

    OMG, don’t let this abiotic thing resurface! We had a go at it a while back, and it was an awkward exchange, in which the true believers did not know the basics of petroleum geology or production, but did not let that get in their way. Perhaps Ric Werme with his excellent archiving can dredge it up, though like a stinking black shale it would be more pleasant to leave it buried.

    Oh dear, a challenge. In truth, my archiving and searching skills are overrated. Generally I use the search box at the top of the page, though it only matches the content of the post, not the comments. There are no posts referencing abiotic! Next comes Google, and searching for |site:wattsupwiththat.com abiotic| yeilds dozens of references.
    Clearly Doug needs to spend more of his life here. 🙂
    Some that struck my fancy, I haven’t read too closely, this is one controversy I’m mostly happy to leave to others, sorted by date:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/07/27/penn-and-teller-on-carbon-credits/#comment-28233 Leon Brozyna says:
    July 29, 2008 at 10:40 am
    As well, check out a more in-depth look at the resurrected theory of the abiotic origins of oil at:
    http://www.gasresources.net/index.htm
    Now if (and that’s a mighty big if) this idea holds water, then oil will never run out as it’s being continuously created. Just some fascinating thinking for the geology community.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/11/07/truly-inconvenient-truths-about-climate-change-being-ignored-ipccs-pachauri-says-warming-is-taking-place-at-a-much-faster-rate/#comment-56862
    Terry Ward says:
    November 13, 2008 at 9:53 am
    Experiment has shown the abiotic hypothesis to hold water 😉 A google search of-
    “Laboratory-pure solid marble (CaCO3), iron oxide (FeO), wet with triple-distilled water, are subjected to pressures up to 50 kbar and temperatures to 2000 C. With no contribution of either hydrocarbons or biological detritus, the CaCO3-FeO-H2O system spontaneously generates, at the high pressures predicted theoretically, the suite of hydrocarbons characteristic of natural petroleum.”
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/04/scientists-locate-apparent-hydrothermal-vents-off-antarctica/#comment-336497
    James F. Evans says:
    March 5, 2010 at 8:59 am
    [Note a couple comments in brackets]
    Here is an abstract of a scientific paper that concisely spells out abiotic oil formation processes (link below):
    http://www.searchanddiscovery.com/documents/2006/06088houston_abs/abstracts/keith.htm
    Serpentinization is common on the ocean floor along fracture zones (Lost City), beneath conventional petroleum in rifts due to sedimentary burial (Gulf of Mexico) or thrust loading (Roan Trough), and at the top of flat subducting oceanic crust (Eocene beneath UT, CO, WY).

    If hydrogen-stable (mainly thermogenic methane) peridotite-sourced brines rise into shelf carbonate sequence, they may form magnesian or quartz alkalic hydrothermal dolomite (HTD) and thermogenic gas. If the brines breech the hydrosphere they may produce “white smokers” (tuffa vent mounds/pinnacle reefs) along faults and enrich shales with exhalative metal and hydrocarbon. Petroleum condensate typically forms in reservoirs between the HTD zone and seep sites at the top of the lithosphere.
    [I may have completely messed up the context, but subduction zones have sediment and various biotic remains. Perhaps this is talking about high temperature conversion?]
    To note: Rare earth minerals (those that are rare in the shallow crust but more plentiful in the deep crust and upper mantel are found in oil deposits, but not in the surrounding shallow crust in which the oil deposit is lodged.
    [Hey! I’m on topic! Yay!]
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/31/new-paper-agw-sooners-stake-your-drill-baby-drill-ice-free-claims-now/#comment-358292
    James F. Evans says:
    April 1, 2010 at 12:42 pm
    The best currently available science is overwhelming that complex hydrocarbons (oil) and most natural gas is abiotic.
    There is little scientific evidence and no constrained chemical reaction process that explaines the so-called “fossil” theory that organic detritus becomes complex, high chemical potential energy, hydrocarbons.
    [James again. I recommend Doug and James do not get together to discuss the subject over a beer!]
    ———————————-
    Aha! The thread Doug refers to appears to be http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/05/15/natural-petroleum-seeps-release-equivalent-of-eight-to-80-exxon-valdez-oil-spills/ – found by adding Brasil as a search term.
    Doug states: “The deep stuff in Brazil produces because inspite of being deep, the vitrinite reflectance is below 2.2, tmax below 500C, and is within the oil window.”
    This is a meaningless statement meant to look authoritive, but in all my discussions and research have never seen that justification offered for the temperature of the oil.
    [It gets uglier. I can see why Doug doesn’t spend much time here.]
    ———————
    Hmm, I wonder if I should add a section on “other controversies” to http://home.comcast.net/~ewerme/wuwt/index.html to have convenient pointers to discourage rehashing old arguments. I don’t know, I’d have to mention things like CO₂ frost and a couple banned topics, it would distract from WUWT’s goals. I could do that in a separate page, I could call it dont-go-there.html. Might be worthwhile.

  56. Michael Larkin says:
    October 3, 2010 at 3:55 am
    “See Doug, this is one reason that the AGW establishment cheeses people off. It dismisses all contrarian arguments and seeks to shut down debate. I’m not saying I want that debate, and if I did, I’m not sure this would be the place for it. What I am saying is that you are behaving, in principle, little differently from those you probably abhor when they speak out on AGW.”
    Mike— I agree this is the wrong forum in which to debate the origin of producible hydrocarbons, but I disagree that I dismiss contrarian arguments without cause. I merely value informed debate over ideology. In the AWG field, I regularly read Realclimate. I find their arguments well presented but generally unconvincing.
    I believe it is unproductive to debate with those who have read Thomas Gold’s “The Deep Hot Biosphere : The Myth of Fossil Fuels” and made up their minds without reading and understanding more of the vast body of research on the subject. Gold’s ideas makes a nice story, well presented, as is the information at Realclimate but it does not lead to discoveries of oil and gas. Looking for organic source rocks does.

  57. I understand the Rothschilds, house of orange (Dutch royal family) and others funded the russian revolution and Hitler, who is to say who is behind this destructive scam, it seems the same ideoligy is behind enviro nazis, carbon credit scam and china, it must be vast sums of money that drive this. Politicaly look at the UK, the conservatives are gone , all 3 parties are socialist and lemming like, money again. The hope for a future is sites like this and movements like the tea party where actual conservative principles are held valid. A question for the “greens” if CO2 is so bad why do we squander rare earth metals and lots of heat to produce the ceramic honeycomb to produce catalytic converters that have to be fed with excess O2 and unburnt hydrocarbons to convert CO to large amounts of CO2? I get that back in the 1970s this cleaned up the poor fueling and ignition running of the day but today we have to corrupt the perfect running and economy of our cars to make the damn things work??

  58. Doug have a go at explaining the Alberta Tar sands super concentration of bitumen which is equivalent to the Saudi super massive oil fields. What is your explanation for the super concentrated hydrocarbon fields? Try to explain why there are heavy metals in oil and that the same concentrations of heavy metals are found in fields that are geographically separated. (The point is the hydrocarbons moved deep earth and picked up the heavy metals and then moved to multiple porous formations that are graphically separated. There are no heavy metals in the porous sedimentary formations.) The source of the hydrocarbons is deep in the earth.
    The movement of deep hydrocarbons through the mantel is the reason why other heavy metals such as concentrated deposits of gold are found with hydrocarbons residue.
    Try to explain why tiny Qatar has 15% of the world’s “natural gas” reserves.
    Try to explain how the atmosphere and the oceans formed on the planet (Do not forget the big splat issue. See my comment above.) or why the ocean is currently super saturated with CH4, or the massive CH4 deposits in the permafrost high latitude regions of the planet. Explain why deep CH4 has almost no C13.
    Current research shows the planet loses significant amounts of H2O (The H2O dissociates in the atmosphere and the H2 is removed by the solar wind.) from the solar wind. If there was no source of new CH4 this would be a lifeless waterless planet.
    I have researched this subject in depth. There is an interesting set of papers published by the API called “The Origin of Petroleum” which lists problem after problem (each problem is a paradox) which the organic theory cannot explain.
    The source of the CH4 is deep earth. If you read Soviet papers and Soviet textbooks the standard model is deep earth as the source of petroleum. The Soviets complained that Thomas Gold did not give them credit for the discovery. The Soviets developed the technology for deep earth natural gas exploration and seem to be very, very, commercially successful.
    Read Thomas Gold’s book as a starting point and then come back. What you personally believe is irrelevant. A scientific theory must explain all observations. The organic theory cannot. Current commercial exploration for “natural gas” is in fields that are clearly abiogenic source.
    http://www.gasresources.net/VAKreplytBriggs.htm
    The deep earth hypothesis can explain why Saudi Arabia has 25% of the planet’s oil reserves half of which is contained in only eight fields. Half of Saudi Arabia production comes from a single field the Ghawar.
    Excerpt from this wikipedia article on Oil Reserves
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_reserves
    “Saudi Arabia reports it has 262 gigabarrels of proven oil reserves (65 years of future production), around a quarter of proven, conventional world oil reserves. Although Saudi Arabia has around 80 oil and gas fields, more than half of its oil reserves are contained in only eight fields, and more than half its production comes from one field, the Ghawar field.”

  59. Beijing claims to be motivated by environmental concerns – reflecting the fact that rare earths are present in very low concentrations, mountains of rock must be mined, crushed and processed to get usable metals, and every step in the process requires oil, gasoline or coal-based electricity.
    This is a Chinese ‘deflection’. THE largest REE mine in the world, which is in China, is an IRON mine. The Rare Earths come along as a byproduct. They are mining Iron as fast as they can…
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/are-rare-earths-rare/

  60. “Evidence is mounting that petroleum is abiogenic in origin – and natural forces deep inside the Earth are constantly creating new hydrocarbons from elemental carbon and hydrogen. ”
    Give me a break guys. This speculation has been put to rest:
    Abiogenic Origin of Hydrocarbons: An Historical Overview
    http://static.scribd.com/docs/j79lhbgbjbqrb.pdf
    Oil is biological. So is the natural gas in those shale formations (that’s why they are blackish in colour — carbon)

  61. Abiogenic hydrocarbons?
    The search for hydrocarbons starts with geoscientists looking for a quality source rock. A good source rock consist of a high percentage of organic carbon. We can use the chemical ‘finger print’ to identify what type of organisms produced were pyrolyzed. Type1= fresh water algae, Type 2=Marine algae, and Type 3=terrestrial plant matter. The distribution of known hydrocarbons is strongly correlated with prolific source rocks that have been buried and are thermally mature, like the Kimmeridge Clay in the North Sea or Tuwaiq Mountain Formation in Saudi Arabia. I am not saying that abiogenic hydrocarbons do not exist. But, most of our oil and gas are clearly related to the organic matter of source rocks.

  62. That is funny, some of you are hangry about China, because they are playing the capitalist game. Is’nt jealousy. China went farther then looking at there noze a couple of years ago by doing a survey of such ressources in there country, then went worlwide seeking for it. What they do , they buy the enterprise who owns the claims on these ressources – they’re paying big bucks to get them.
    By the way, they don’t do that only on such rare ressources, they also buy most of the claims for wood, crop land, oil (of course), copper mines, gold mines, diamond mines.
    Guess where they are picking all the $$$ to do so. By financing the debt from large countries like the US. If you want to see a big link between debt and financing – poor administrative and short term vision from large capitalist countries is allowing China to become the owner of the most precious ressources in the world. And China is ”only” playing our game (capitalism) – can we blame them ?
    Having said that, while most of the US was debating (for the last 20-30 years) about not leaving the fossil fuel industry and to forget about new technologies (you know those greenes trying to create new batteries and electric motors you’re all laughing about), countries like China went forward in develloping them – now we’ll have to pay for it. Again, it’s the same short term view type that sent us in that situation.
    If you try to stop that, you’ll be prevented from doing so by your own law of free market and anti protectionist laws that you (the US) supported all the way when it was about foreign fossil fuel. Now that you are on the other side of the fence, you find it not fair.

  63. Duncan:
    “There’s lots of government-owned wilderness out west, and none of it has any oil – ”
    Hmmm… You sure about that? Take just one area, Glacier National Park. Even a brief perusal of the history suggests otherwise:
    http://www.foresthistory.org/ASPNET/Publications/region/1/flathead/chap3.htm
    Unfortunately, the local representative, Max Baucus, displays exactly the same ‘lock up the resources’ attitude that this post is about:
    http://baucus.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=79
    Senator Baucus has been working for over a decade to permanently withdraw sensitive lands along the Front from development. He wrote a provision that passed in 2006 that permanently protects the Rocky Mountain Front from oil and gas development.
    He seems to be quite proud of himself.

  64. Apollo program discovery: KREEP rocks. Read about it in an 80’s book on Lunar Geology.
    Never heard anything about is ever since.
    Who’s going to the Moon? Nobody right now.
    The Moon is very old in geologic age.
    So is the Canadian Shield.
    Is Canada developing REE mines? Yes.

  65. You mention the science historian James Burke. I remember watching his Connections series which I thought were brilliant. What ever happened to him?

  66. No country has ever manage to subsist without producing goods. Eco-fanatics have ruined every country where they meddled in. Examples abound.

  67. All “modernity”, all the “advances” of technology the world has, the world owes them specially to the ingenuity of people of the USA, and to its freedom which made possible the work of foreigners as Nikola Tesla and hundreds of others. To act against those principles which made all this possible for the world, it is not only a treason to that country but to the world. You must take into account that not everywhere else in the world is even feasible that development as other, and different principles, prevail. As in other cultures where the participation of individuals is denigrated. You must realize, also, that inventions were possible because of the special respect you have for intellectual rights; you don´t find that in the rest of the world, where in spite of official positions, in the real world if an idea appears as one which could be profitable, it will be profited not by the author of it but by anyone else with close links to those in political or economical power.

  68. Even if laboratory studies of hydrocarbon synthesis and isotopic composition suggest a deep ‘abiogenic’ origin for petroleum hydrocarbons, this is almost a moot point. What’s pragmatically important is the recognition of the geologic processes which concentrate petroleum hydrocarbons into deposits that can be located and economically extracted. While the theory of the abiogenic origin of petroleum hydrocarbons may be interesting, like AGW theory, it must overcome a mountain of existing empirical evidence which supports the currently accepted biogenic origin theory. The fact that hydrocarbons are found in fluid inclusions in diamonds is interesting, but I don’t think that means you’re going to drill an exploratory well in or adjacent to a kimberlrte pipe in the absence of some other geologic information!
    I’d be interested to know about any currently producing oil or gas fields that don’t conform with the historic and current exploration models for the biogenic origin and occurance of petroleum. I’m not saying that occurances of petroleum solely attributable to an abiogenic origin don’t exist, but that they are not economically significant. I don’t think it would be exaggerating to say that nearly all existing fields occur within tectonically created basins where organic debris acculuated in sedimentary deposits which were subsequently deformed to create the traps for the concentration of the migrating hydrocarbons. I know of wells that have produced oil and/or gas from igneous or metamorphic reservoir rocks, but in all of these cases there was a structural connection to a nearby sedimentary source rock.

  69. Grey Lensman says:
    October 3, 2010 at 7:26 am
    “Another name for oil is hydrocarbons, for good reason.”
    Sorry but I beg to differ. Oil is a hydrocarbon but not all hydocarbons are oil. For example methane is a hydrocarbon but methane is not oil. To the best of my knowledge the only hydrocarbons on Titan include methane, ethane, acteylene, ethelyne, and hydrogen cyanide. By photosynthesis methane can be converted into three of the other four hydrocarbons, and hydrogen cyanide, the odd man out, can be formed by the same process provide there is nitrogen present. However none of these hydrocarbons are oil.
    As Doug pointed out above geologists have long known of the existence of abiogenic methane. If , as you stated early on, oil is present on Titan then if true it would certainly help to advance the abiogenic petroleum origin hypothesis.
    Good luck with finding that reference of oil on Titan, I can only keep an open mind for so long.

  70. Please remember the residue ponds of innumerable mines, refineries, where these rare elements have been concentrated. This is the case, for example, scarece elements as Gallium, Indium and Germanium, found in zinc refineries residue ponds.
    There are cases, as the one in Thompson, Ca. where there are big ponds containing palladium, and, of course nickel and copper, but because of having a percentage of arsenic, which by “eco-law” it can not be neither processed on the site nor transported to ports these can not be benefited.(in order to reach a place where there are less of eco-nuts around and where it could be possible its recovery)

  71. LazyTeenager says:
    October 3, 2010 at 5:37 am
    “Anyone have an idea of the stable state of Carbon and hydrogen at deep subsurface temperature and pressures. Is it methane or graphite?”
    Neither. The equilibrium state includes a mixture of hydrocarbons. The relative abundances will depend upon the temperature, pressure, carbon/hydrogen ratio, and rock composition. Lighter hydrocarbons are synthesised more readily, but long chain molecules also form, and under various conditions the equilibrium can be shifted towards them. There can be no reasonable scientific doubt that petroleum is continually being synthesised (and broken down again) abiotically deep in the Earth’s crust. There can also be no reasonable scientific doubt that petroleum is continually being synthesised (and broken down) from buried organic remains. Nor can there be any reasonable scientific doubt that petroleum, from whatever source, can be colonised and modified by various bacteria, from the greatest depths at which extreme thermophiles can exist (T<150C) all the way up to the surface. So it's not an "either/or" situation. What fraction of the petroleum and natural gas we extract has a biotic or abiotic origin is not known; the evidence is not unambiguous. Indicators of biotic origin that were once considered conclusive (such as the presence of “organic” markers and the concentration in sedimentary basins) are now known to be consistent with abiotic origin too. For example, finding oil in sedimentary rocks may be merely a selection effect – those are the most drilled, and the most capable of forming reservoirs.

  72. Glad to see so many knowledgeable posters chime in on the origins of hydrocarbons. The link by jr wakefield:
    Abiogenic Origin of Hydrocarbons: An Historical Overview
    http://static.scribd.com/docs/j79lhbgbjbqrb.pdf is a pretty fair summary, and would help answer many of Williams questions.
    I’ll add one more thing to push the discussion further off topic and into another ideologue tainted controversy— peak oil. While the biotic princples of hydrocarbon are used by some to prop up their arguments about imminent doom from peak oil, I feel that the fact that oil and gas are indeed fossil fuels does not mean we are running out any time soon. We have just been living off the conventional production, and we are transitioning into more unconventional production, such as shale gas, shale oil and oil shale (there is a difference!) and bitumen deposits. While these deposits are currently more difficult to produce, they are vast. Much the way copper production went from native copper, to veins of copper sulfides, to the massive copper porphyries we mine today, oil and gas has gone from small, shallow, flowing wells to deeper, pumped wells, to some of the horizontal multilateral extractions being developed today. Mankind will survive, as we are a pretty smart and adaptable species.

  73. Doug or jrwakefield, I am waiting for a fossil explanation for the super concentrated oil fields in the Alberta Tar sands and Saudi fields. The Alberta tars sand is obvious migrated hydrocarbon. 25% of the Saudi oil production comes from a single field. The tiny country Qatar has 25% of the planet’s “natural” gas reserves. Theories need to explain all of the observations. The origin of “natural” gas and the Alberta tar sand is deep hydrocarbons that have migrated to the surface. Hence the heavy metals in the tar sands which are picked up by as the oil migrates from the core to the surface. (The sand is silicates which does not have heavy metals in it.) The fact that other heavy metals such as gold are found in highly concentrated formation with hydrocarbon residue provides more observational evidence for the process. Plants and marine life do not have heavy metals in them.
    This is interesting. The Horn River basin “natural” gas reservoir in British Columbia Canada has an estimated reserve volume of 25% of the total Russian natural gas reserves.
    “Horn River Basin
    Whenever we talk about unconventional resources, using the right technology is one of the most important factors to consider. With the success of horizontal drilling, producers have had tremendous success unlocking the natural gas from shale reserves. The Horn River Basin, located in British Columbia, is quickly becoming a hotbed for investors. Some have speculated that up to 50 trillion cubic feet of natural gas might be contained within the Horn River basin if future discoveries are similar to the success that some of the major players have had.”
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/bc-emerges-as-major-natural-gas-player/article1247539/
    “Now, his proposed $3-billion Kitimat liquid natural gas project has the backing of some of the biggest names in the business – including the world’s largest gas importer, Korea Gas Corp., and U.S. gas producers EOG Resources Inc. and Apache Corp. , two key players in the Horn River….”
    “…the change from an import to an export facility is emblematic of the changing B.C. economy and the province’s emerging role as a significant gas producer on a global scale.”
    “…British Columbia currently produces 2.5 billion cubic feet of gas a day – less than a quarter of rival Alberta’s output – but the potential at Horn River alone is huge. Companies such as Apache, EOG and EnCana Corp. believe Horn River itself could eventually produce more than four billion cubic feet a day, similar to what is generated at a giant field in Texas called the Barnett Shale…”
    “Beyond Horn River, northeastern B.C. appears to be rich with gas trapped in barely porous rock.” (my comment: barely porous rock that has immense amounts of CH4 under very high pressure in it.)

  74. Doug,
    Until recently, I believed that although abiotic oil is theoretically possible, known oil reserves are biotic. But this paper by Kennedy et al seems to cast serious doubt on that.
    http://www.pnas.org/content/99/17/10976.full.pdf+html
    They use physical chemistry to show that at low pressure, H-C compounds quickly degrade to methane. 30kBar pressures seem to be required to lock in the long chain hydrocarbons. They conclude:
    ‘The pressure of 30 kbar, at which the theoretical analyses of
    section 4 predicts that the H–C system must evolve ethane and
    heavier hydrocarbon compounds, corresponds to a depth of
    more than 100 km. The results of the theoretical analysis shown
    in Fig. 2 clearly establish that the evolution of the molecular
    components of natural petroleum occur at depth at least as great
    as those of the mantle of the Earth, as shown graphically in Fig.
    4, in which are represented the thermal and pressure lapse rates
    in the depths of the Earth.’
    If their calculations are correct, then the question would be, how can biological detritus get into the earth’s mantel to be formed into oil? And if not biological detritus, then that leads only to an inorganic origin. As I say, I am fairly agnostic on this, but this is a serious challenge to the biological origins school of thought.

  75. Doug,
    The author of the 2006 paper, that you provide a link to, curiously appears to not have read Thomas Gold or Kennedy’s papers or for some unexplained reason appears to directly misquote an absolutely fundamental tenet of their theory. Perhaps the author of this paper should have attended the 2008 Sloan Deep Carbon workshop.
    The CH4 is converted to longer chain molecules at high pressures at roughly 100 km depths. Gold and Kennedy specifically state that. Kennedy in fact shows the chemical reaction to turn long chain kergen (supposedly biological source that is magically turned in to light crude oil) into light short chain hydrocarbons does not occur at the depths were the light crude oil is found.
    I am waiting for your explanation as to why there are super concentrated natural gas and petroleum fields and the source of the heavy metals in Alberta Tar sands. If you look up earlier in this thread there is my comment on how the deep hydrocarbon source explains the formation of the planet’s oceans and atmosphere. (I explain how the late veneer theory cannot explain the observations and how a deep hydrocarbon source can.) A theory must explain all observations. As I note the scientific puzzle is not just what is the origin of “natural” gas and crude oil.
    http://static.scribd.com/docs/j79lhbgbjbqrb.pdf
    “However, there is a fundamental flaw in Thomas Gold’s theory of abiogenic petroleum formation. As previously pointed out, methane can only be converted to higher hydrocarbons at pressures >30 kbar corresponding to a depth of ~100 km below the Earth’s surface. The proposed reaction of methane to produce higher hydrocarbons above this depth and, in particular, in the upper layers of the Earth’s crust is therefore not consistent with the second law of thermodynamics.” (Comment: What is the point for this author to misquote a fundamental tenet of Kennedy and Gold’s abiogenic theory?”)
    Sloan Deep Carbon Workshop (Sponsored by the US department of Energy)
    https://www.gl.ciw.edu/workshops/sloan_deep_carbon_workshop_may_2008
    “To date, consideration of the global carbon cycle has focused primarily on near-surface (i.e., relatively low-pressure and temperature) phenomena, with the tacit assumption that oceans, atmosphere and shallow surface environments represent an essentially closed system with respect to biologically available carbon. However, recent data and theoretical analyses from a variety of sources suggest that this assumption may be false. Experimental discoveries of facile high-pressure and temperature organic synthesis and complex interactions between organic molecules and minerals, field observations of deep microbial ecosystems and of anomalies in petroleum geochemistry, and theoretical models of lower crust and upper mantle carbon sources and sinks demand a careful reappraisal of the deep carbon cycle.”

  76. Starts with a post on eco-engineered scarcity, ends with discussion on abiogenic oil. Must be a slow day.
    Just remember, no matter which way the hydrocarbons are generated, there’s still a generation rate. “Fossil fuels” are still being made. While ultimately the supply is endless, and between what we’ve found and what we will find there’s enough for our energy needs for hundreds of years, we’re still using them faster than they’re getting replenished. So please, none of that “Abiogenic oil, infinite supply, as much as we’ll ever need!” stuff, alright?
    😉

  77. Kadaka,
    “So please, none of that “Abiogenic oil, infinite supply, as much as we’ll ever need!” stuff, alright?
    ;-)”
    Of course. I don’t think anyone here is using the abiotic theory for political reasons – one seeks the truth for its own sake.

  78. FTA:
    “Americans use too much energy, and they’re not going to change voluntarily. The only way to make them change is to take the resources away. And the best way to do that is put them in wilderness.”
    What wasn’t in the article…:
    “Now excuse me, John Travolta’s kindly offered his 707 so we can get to Cancun.”
    “Dang that Humvee is hard to get into”….

  79. William says:
    October 3, 2010 at 10:20 am
    Doug or jrwakefield, I am waiting for a fossil explanation for the super concentrated oil fields in the Alberta Tar sands and Saudi fields. The Alberta tars sand is obvious migrated hydrocarbon. 25% of the Saudi oil production comes from a single field.
    William, there is absolutely no problem explaining those fields, their size, their hydrocarbons, their traces of heavy metals through well established geologic principles. They are adjacent to thick, rich, organic source rocks, and have very large drainage areas for each structure. Geologic time is a marvelous thing. Given some time, organic material in those source rocks accumulated in huge quantities. The producible hydrocarbons are a mere fraction of the accumulated preserved organic matter.
    William says:
    October 3, 2010 at 10:20 am
    Hence the heavy metals in the tar sands which are picked up by as the oil migrates from the core to the surface. (The sand is silicates which does not have heavy metals in it.) The fact that other heavy metals such as gold are found in highly concentrated formation with hydrocarbon residue provides more observational evidence for the process. Plants and marine life do not have heavy metals in them.
    William, there are no pure silicate sediments. They have all sorts of trace minerals. In the Cretaceous of Alberta, they are regularly interbedded with volcanic ash, which contains traces any deep mantle metal you want.. Circulating fluids pick up those metals and dump them when a reducing agent, such as a hydrocarbon is encountered. This is why so many chrome-uranium -vanadium deposits are found in petrified wood rich units of Mesozoic sandstones of the American Southwest.
    I am sure you have made up your mind. Fine. I suggest you invest in drilling a few wells in tectonic zones which lack sediments. We know oil can be reservoired in fractured igneous rock. If the source is from the mantle, you should find some significant reserves.

  80. Enneagram says:
    October 3, 2010 at 9:11 am
    No country has ever manage to subsist without producing goods. Eco-fanatics have ruined every country where they meddled in. Examples abound.

    Our glorious politicians and money markets lived high off the hog for a couple of decades trading down at the global pawn shop.
    Now that the Great Recession has hit, it’s become abundantly clear what was suspected all along: A pure consumer society is not sustainable.
    The eco movement to lock it all up means we cannot move forward, in the present game plan, without another trip to the pawn shop. We are certain to lose if we play the global pawn shop game, so there is no sense in playing it. We are losing right now.
    What’s the way out? Get rid of the leadership that got us in this awful mess. Throw them out in November.
    Then, once we are rid of the corrupt politicians, Sequestrians, Global Trade worshipers, Fed outsourcers and Wall Street Big Bank bailout kings, we can start over.
    Estimated time for repair: 15-20 years.

  81. “I am waiting for a fossil explanation for the super concentrated oil fields in the Alberta Tar sands”
    Google “alberta tar sands geology” Specifically http://www.see.ualberta.ca/pdfs/Uncertainty%20of%20Alberta%20Oil%20Sands%20-%20Job.pdf
    Saudi Arabia you need to read the book Twighlight In the Desert by Matt Simmons. He goes into very detailed geology on how all the producing fields were formed, including Ghawar. Basically, they are all mobalized from deeper source rocks capped by hard impenitrable folded limestones. Google “gharwar geology” such as http://pubs.usgs.gov/bul/b2202-h/b2202-h-508.pdf
    As for peak oil, let’s be clear what it is and is not. Peak oil is not about how much is in the ground. Even a good conventional field once exhausted leaves as much as 60% behind that is physically not extractable. Peak oil is about flow rates and ERoEI. Unconventional fields have very low flow rates, and very low ERoEI. The Alberta Tar sands is flat out at 1.5mb/day. Their goal is 3mb/day in the next 20 years. The US currently consumes some 20mb/day. Do the math. The rate of increase of production from unconvensional sources cannot keep up with depletion from existing old fields.
    ERoEI is vital, as once it takes more energy to extract the energy in the oil, what’s the point? Ghawar in its early days was 100:1. Now it’s less than 20:1 as it is in tertiary recovery (last stage before a field’s death). The tar sands in Alberta for the surface mining only is 6:1. And that’s just the rate at the location, not including further refining and transportation down stream. In situ extraction would very likely be half that.

  82. William, read up about the “oil window” then you will see why abiotic is not possible. http://oilandgasgeology.com/ Oil cannot form at depth because it’s too damn hot. It oxidizes any hydrocarbons. If Oil is abiotic how come there are none in exposed Precambrian rocks like the Canadian Shield?
    Heavy metals get deposited in oil as the oil migrates through porous rocks as it moves up to the surface. In fact, they can even match the metals to the very rocks they came from, showing the path the oil took. Google Tupi geology, you will see they have identified the organic source rock for that field off Brazil.

  83. Horn River shale gas: http://www.geocanada2010.ca/uploads/abstracts_new/view.php?item_id=481
    “Not every shale deposit works as a shale gas play. The ideal candidate should be thick, brittle, organic-bearing, highly pressured and thermally mature. The right combination of all of these criteria in Horn River has resulted in one of the best shale gas prospects discovered to date.”
    Note ORGANIC. Shales are formed from thick mud/clay deposits with lots of marine organisms living in it. The NG got there by decomposition of the organisms, trapped in the rock matrix because it cannot escape the rock. The big problem with gas from shale is that the depletion drop off rate is very fast. Within 6 years 80% drop in production, compared to 20 to 30 years for a convensional field.

  84. Doug, it is quite obvious you have not read Thomas Gold’s book and the 100s of papers concerning this issue, nor are you aware of the scientific issues concerning how the planet’s atmosphere and oceans formed.
    It appears you have not also read Kennedy’s paper concerning the chemical issue of converting long chain kerogen to short chain hydrocarbons and do not understand the scientific issue. Appeals to geological time, do not change the physics/chemistry. Rocks do not roll up hill if you wait long enough. The API papers (Found in a set called “The Origin of Crude Oil”) noted there was and is no physical explanation for the reaction and then placed the word time in quotation marks “time”, as if quotation marks could make rocks roll up hill. Long chain kerogen does not convert to light crude with time.
    You do not understand the issue of the heavy metals. The same very specific amounts (ratios) of heavy metals are found in fields that are geographically and geologically separated. The source hydrocarbon migrated from the same source, picked up the same very specific ratios of heavy metals on its journey. Quite obviously the massive Alberta tar sand deposit is migrated hydrocarbons.
    You have not provide an explanation as to why Saudi has 25% of the planet’s hydrocarbon deposits 50% of which is contained in eight fields. You have not explained the massive Qatar natural gas formation. You have not explained the massive concentration of hydrocarbons in the Alberta tars sands. The abiogenic hypothesis can explain super massive concentrations of hydrocarbons. The organic theory cannot.
    Read up on this issue and think about the scientific issues. The papers associated with the 2008 Sloan Deep Carbon workshop are a good place to start. Come back if you want to discuss further.
    http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/454269/petroleum/50709/From-kerogen-to-petroleum
    http://www.astrobio.net/pressrelease/2708/earths-late-veneer
    “For 30 years, the late-veneer hypothesis has been the dominant paradigm for understanding Earth’s early history, and our ultimate origins,” Humayun said. “Now, with our latest research, we’re suggesting that the late-veneer hypothesis may not be the only way of explaining the presence of certain elements in the Earth’s crust and mantle.”
    Munir Humayun, an associate professor in FSU’s Department of Geological Sciences and researcher at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, co-authored a paper, Partitioning of Palladium at High Pressures and Temperatures During Core Formation,”that was recently published in the peer-reviewed science journal Nature Geoscience. The paper provides a direct challenge to the popular “late veneer hypothesis,” a theory which suggests that all of our water, as well as several so-called “iron-loving” elements, were added to the Earth late in its formation by impacts with icy comets, meteorites and other passing objects.”
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=what-do-we-know-about-the
    “The composition of the ocean offers some clues as to its origin. If all the comets contain the same kind of water ice that we have examined in Comets Halley and Hyakutake- -the only ones whose water molecules we’ve been able to study in detail– then comets cannot have delivered all the water in the earth’s oceans. We know this because the ice in the comets contains twice as many atoms of deuterium (a heavy isotope of hydrogen) to each atom of ordinary hydrogen as we find in seawater.
    “At the same time, we know that the meteorites could not have delivered all of the water, because then the earth’s atmosphere would contain nearly 10 times as much xenon (an inert gas) as it actually does. Meteorites all carry this excess xenon. Nobody has yet measured the concentration of xenon in comets, but recent laboratory experiments on the trapping of gases by ice forming at low temperatures suggest that comets do not contain high concentrations of the xenon. A mixture of meteoritic water and cometary water would not work either, because this combination would still contain a higher concentration of deuterium than is found in the oceans.”
    Sloan Deep Carbon Workshop (Sponsored by the US department of Energy)
    https://www.gl.ciw.edu/workshops/sloan_deep_carbon_workshop_may_2008

  85. The issue with China’s restrictions on RE export started with the Japanese arresting a fishing boat and holding the captain and boat because of fishing in waters around a disputed island (Taiwan, Japan and ML China claim it). China upped the ante by stating they would stop exports of strategic raw materials to Japan, among them RE metals. The rest was a reaction by US and others who suddenly, it seems, realized that such resources could be denied them. There are good resources of RE in California as mentioned, but also in Utah and elsewhere. Certainly Canada has resources that may rival China’s. Check out Thor Lake deposit in the Northwest Territories where a huge deposit contains several percent RE and especially the most valuable ‘heavy RE’ which are the most strategic. One other element that commonly occurs with RE is Thorium which has been lately promoted for nuclear energy without weapons grade byproducts. Thor lake has plenty of this stuff too. We were once called the Blue-eyed Arabs of the North by US politicians when Canadian oil companies raised prices from the 3 or 4 dollars a barrel (remember those days?) after the ME oil embargo of 1974. We may yet be renamed the Blue-eyed Mandarins of the North when RE output begins at a higher price than now.

  86. As a past mining engineer and geologist, I’m certain new deposits of the REE will be discovered when it is in the economic interests of exploration and mining companies to find them. All it takes is freeing the land from excessive regulations.

  87. “Quite obviously the massive Alberta tar sand deposit is migrated hydrocarbons.”
    Yes migrated from the west to the east horizontally, more like squeezed like toothpaste from a tube. Not up from the mantle (some 35km of rock).
    Also kerogen contains lipids, chemically identical and related to animal lipids.

  88. “Doug, it is quite obvious you have not read Thomas Gold’s book and the 100s of papers concerning this issue, nor are you aware of the scientific issues concerning how the planet’s atmosphere and oceans formed. ”
    The original paper I posted throughly debunks Gold’s theory: http://static.scribd.com/docs/j79lhbgbjbqrb.pdf
    Abstract: The two theories of abiogenic formation of hydrocarbons, the Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum
    origins and Thomas Gold’s deep gas theory, have been considered in some detail. Whilst the Russian-Ukrainian theory
    was portrayed as being scientifically rigorous in contrast to the biogenic theory which was thought to be littered with invalid
    assumptions, this applies only to the formation of the higher hydrocarbons from methane in the upper mantle. In most other
    aspects, in particular the influence of the oxidation state of the mantle on the abundance of methane, this rigour is lacking
    especially when judged against modern criteria as opposed to the level of understanding in the 1950s to 1980s when this theory
    was at its peak. Thomas Gold’s theory involves degassing of methane from the mantle and the formation of higher hydrocarbons
    from methane in the upper layers of the Earth’s crust. However, formation of higher hydrocarbons in the upper layers
    of the Earth’s crust occurs only as a result of Fischer-Tropsch-type reactions in the presence of hydrogen gas but is otherwise
    not possible on thermodynamic grounds. This theory is therefore invalid. Both theories have been overtaken by the
    increasingly sophisticated understanding of the modes of formation of hydrocarbon deposits in nature.

  89. It is a mistake to say that the enviro-mentalists don’t understand the economic havoc they create. They precisely understand; that is their objective. They are followers of the evil Canadian Maurice Strong who famously said that industrial civilisation must end.
    We may get to the point where the only way of saving the world will be for industrial civilization to collapse.

  90. I can’t understand the alarmism about REE to be honest. They are an oxy-moron because they aren’t rare. In Australia we have been burying them as waste from mineral sands operations (in the monazite) for ages. We also have a mine on the books in Western Australia that would be only too happy to fire up if REE demand starts to rise.
    Lynas Corp – Mt Weld mine
    http://www.lynascorp.com/page.asp?category_id=2&page_id=3
    So if we mine them in WA and send them to Malaysia for processing I think everyone should be able to sleep well, right? Note Lynas’ comment about the company:
    “Lynas is set to provide the first source of supply of Rare Earths outside of China when it comes into production in the third quarter of next year. We believe this timeframe puts us well ahead of our competitors.”
    So there must be other ex-China operations being developed.

  91. Evidence is mounting that petroleum is abiogenic in origin
    Sure, why not.
    Alkaline earths + carbon + heat and pressure -> group IIa carbides
    + water -> acetylenes
    polymerization -> aromatic + aliphatic hydrocarbons

  92. It appears the search for commercial hydrocarbons will over rule your concerns as to validity of the abiogenic origin of commercial hydrocarbons. The paper that is alleged to debunk the abiogenic origin does not address the technical issue raised by Kenney.
    This statement is from the debunking paper is not scientific “However, formation of higher hydrocarbons in the upper layers of the Earth’s crust occurs only as a result of Fischer-Tropsch-type reactions in the presence of hydrogen gas but is otherwise not possible on thermodynamic grounds.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischer%E2%80%93Tropsch_process
    The Fisher-Tropsch process occurs at high temperatures (higher than the silly graph which someone provided a link to with the comment that the silly graph proves their point) and in the presence of a catalyst. The reaction Kenney speaks of occurs at high pressures.
    http://sp.lyellcollection.org/cgi/content/abstract/214/1/83
    Oil and gas production from basement reservoirs: examples from Indonesia, USA and Venezuela
    “Basement rocks are important oil and gas reservoirs in various areas of the world. Such reservoirs include fractured or weathered granites, quartzites, or metamorphics. In South America, basement reservoirs occur in Venezuela and Brazil. In North Africa, basement oil and gas production occurs in Morocco, Libya, Algeria and Egypt. Significant basement reservoirs occur in the West Siberia basin as well as in China. In the USA, basement-derived oil production occurs in a number of areas, including California (Wilmington and Edison fields), Kansas (El Dorado and Orth fields) and Texas (Apco field). In Southeast Asia, basement reservoirs are the main contributor of oil production in Vietnam. In Indonesia, to date oil and gas production from basement rocks has been minimal. However, the recent large gas discovery in pre-Tertiary fractured granites in southern Sumatra has led to a focusing of exploration in Indonesia for basement reservoirs.”
    The evolution of multi-component systems at high pressures: VI. The thermodynamic stability of the hydrogen–carbon system: The genesis of hydrocarbons and the origin of petroleum, By Kenney, Kutcherov, Bendeliani, and Alekseev
    Perhaps if you read Kennedy’s paper and responded with a scientific response.
    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/99/17/10976
    “The theoretical analyses establish that the normal alkanes, the homologous hydrocarbon group of lowest chemical potential, evolve only at pressures greater than approx. 30 kbar, excepting only the lightest, methane. The pressure of 30 kbar corresponds to depths of approx.100 km. For experimental verification of the predictions of the theoretical analysis, a special high-pressure apparatus has been designed that permits investigations at pressures to 50 kbar and temperatures to 1,500°C and also allows rapid cooling while maintaining high pressures. The high-pressure genesis of petroleum hydrocarbons has been demonstrated using only the reagents solid iron oxide, FeO, and marble, CaCO3, 99.9% pure and wet with triple distilled water.”
    The expression in the second line of Eq. 2 states further that for any circumstance for which the Affinity does not vanish, there exists a generalized thermodynamic force that drives the system toward equilibrium. The constraints of this expression assure that an apple, having disconnected from its bough, does not fall, say, half way to the ground and there stop (a phenomenon not prohibited by the first law) but must continue to fall until the ground. These constraints force a chemically reactive system to evolve always toward the state of lowest thermodynamic Affinity.

  93. From NASA
    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/media/cassini-20080213.html
    The semantic argument is really a deflection. nature makes oil, hydrocarbons in many ways.
    The point is resources are not scarce only price driven.
    one 500,000 barrel train in Alberta cost USd 10 billion. At the prices obatined at the time, its already paid for. To build more is a simple business decision and how to hide the cost write down.
    Discussion is healthy but should be focused on solutions not semantics.

  94. William, in the book, Oil 101, that California example of oil in “basement” rock, what ever that means, was from migration from another source, which has been identified. So too with the others. The oil dosen’t, can’t, form in magma.
    You do realise that you are now doing is what the AGW dogmatists are doing. Attempting to defend a belief in spite of contradictory evidence presented to you.
    Best you find an oil geologist and ask them.

  95. FTA: Unfortunately, today’s increasingly powerful and power-hungry activists, jurists, legislators and regulators cannot see the connection between their actions and the economic havoc they leave in their wake.
    I don’t agree. I think that they know exactly what they are doing and that that is exactly what they want.

  96. One last:
    DOI: 10.1306/A663388C-16C0-11D7-8645000102C1865D
    Relation Between Petroleum and Source Rock
    Dietrich H. Welte (2)
    AAPG Bulletin
    Volume 49 (1965)
    The relations between petroleum and source rocks can be understood only if we know the important geochemical and geological data of both systems. Therefore, in the first two sections, the latest results of oil and sediment research are discussed. The third section deals with migration, which may be interpreted as the connecting link between crude oils and their source rocks. In the light of the data presented, it is then shown that oil genesis and migration are very closely related to the development of a basin and that one source rock can deliver a whole series of different crude oils. At the beginning of this series are the heavy petroleums and at the end the light ones. This development is basically the result of the progressive thermal degradation of the organic mater al, which was finely disseminated throughout the source rocks.
    http://search.datapages.com/data/doi/10.1306/A663388C-16C0-11D7-8645000102C1865D

  97. Jrwakefield said:
    “Note ORGANIC. Shales are formed from thick mud/clay deposits with lots of marine organisms living in it. The NG got there by decomposition of the organisms, trapped in the rock matrix because it cannot escape the rock. The big problem with gas from shale is that the depletion drop off rate is very fast. Within 6 years 80% drop in production, compared to 20 to 30 years for a convensional field.”
    Using capital letters does not booster a scientific argument. The abiogenic deep hydrocarbon source theory is a paradigm shift that affects the economics, the amount of available hydrocarbons, and the regions where new very large hydrocarbon deposits will be found.
    These companies are not planning to spend $3 billion of private funds to construct LNG export facilities, if there was an expected 80% drop in production in 6 years.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/bc-emerges-as-major-natural-gas-player/article1247539/
    “Now, his proposed $3-billion Kitimat liquid natural gas project has the backing of some of the biggest names in the business – including the world’s largest gas importer, Korea Gas Corp., and U.S. gas producers EOG Resources Inc. and Apache Corp. , two key players in the Horn River….”
    “…the change from an import to an export facility is emblematic of the changing B.C. economy and the province’s emerging role as a significant gas producer on a global scale.”
    “…British Columbia currently produces 2.5 billion cubic feet of gas a day – less than a quarter of rival Alberta’s output – but the potential at Horn River alone is huge. Companies such as Apache, EOG and EnCana Corp. believe Horn River itself could eventually produce more than four billion cubic feet a day, similar to what is generated at a giant field in Texas called the Barnett Shale…”
    “Beyond Horn River, northeastern B.C. appears to be rich with gas trapped in barely porous rock.” (my comment: barely porous rock that has immense amounts of CH4 under very high pressure in it.)
    I noticed you did not comment on the Sloan Deep Carbon Workshop. The finding of very large commercial hydrocarbon in basement rock boosters the deep carbon source theory. Look at all of the observations and construct a theory/mechanism. I have quoted specific papers and observational data on the origin and evolution of the planet’s atmosphere and the planet’s oceans that supports a deep source for hydrocarbon.
    The comment that the deep source hydrocarbon theory is somehow related to the AGW distortion is not scientific. Each scientific theory must be evaluated based on the observational evidence and logic. It appear you have not read Kenney’s paper. Kenney’s paper contains fundamental scientific theoretical and experimental data that supports the abiogenic theory.
    I do not mine, if we agree to disagree, however, the recent commercial and scientific evidence all supports the abiogenic theory. What is or is not the source of the hydrocarbons, is very important as we must determine a policy that is based on fact not a myth. I fully support practical conservation and practical thoughtful environmental protection.
    Sloan Deep Carbon Workshop (Sponsored by the US department of Energy)
    https://www.gl.ciw.edu/workshops/sloan_deep_carbon_workshop_may_2008
    From a paper that was presented at the Sloan Deep Carbon workshop.
    “To date, consideration of the global carbon cycle has focused primarily on near-surface (i.e., relatively low-pressure and temperature) phenomena, with the tacit assumption that oceans, atmosphere and shallow surface environments represent an essentially closed system with respect to biologically available carbon. However, recent data and theoretical analyses from a variety of sources suggest that this assumption may be false. Experimental discoveries of facile high-pressure and temperature organic synthesis and complex interactions between organic molecules and minerals, field observations of deep microbial ecosystems and of anomalies in petroleum geochemistry, and theoretical models of lower crust and upper mantle carbon sources and sinks demand a careful reappraisal of the deep carbon cycle.”

  98. For those interested in abiotic genesis of hydrocarbons:
    From here: http://www.gasresources.net/index.htm
    Modern petroleum science, – or what is called often the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of deep, abiotic petroleum origins, – is an extensive body of knowledge which has been recorded in thousands of articles published in the mainstream, Russian-language scientific journals, and in many books and monographs. However, effectively nothing of modern petroleum science has been published in the U.S.A., and this body of knowledge remains largely unknown in the English-speaking world. For reason of this circumstance, a brief introduction to modern Russian petroleum science has been written separately, and is offered together with a brief indication of some of its immediate economic consequences.
    The unfamiliarity with the Russian-language scientific literature has been further worsened by the bizarre circumstance that modern Russian petroleum science has been subject to the most extensive attempt at plagiarism in the history of modern science. This particular aspect of the history of this body of knowledge is taken up in the section dealing with the political and sociological essays.

  99. Jr Wakefield:
    William has done a remarkable job of trying to draw your attention to an enthalpy problem with the biogenic hypothesis, highlighted in the very PNAS paper that you refuse to address.
    Several people have mentioned the same paper here, in fact.
    quote:
    ============
    The spontaneous genesis of hydrocarbons that comprise natural petroleum have been analyzed by chemical thermodynamic-stability theory. The constraints imposed on chemical evolution by the second law of thermodynamics are briefly reviewed, and the effective prohibition of transformation, in the regime of temperatures and pressures characteristic of the near-surface crust of the Earth, of biological molecules into hydrocarbon molecules heavier than methane is recognized.
    […]
    The scientific problem of the genesis of hydrocarbons of natural petroleum, and consequentially of the origin of natural petroleum deposits, regrettably has been one too much neglected by competent physicists and chemists; the subject has been obscured by diverse, unscientific hypotheses, typically connected with the rococo hypothesis (1) that highly reduced hydrocarbon molecules of high chemical potentials might somehow evolve from highly oxidized biotic molecules of low chemical potential.
    ============
    Also, regarding Titan:
    Crude oil minus the sulfur is a decent estimate of what the haze is…”
    http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/071011-titan-drizzle.html
    It is always in the interest of the supplier to pretend there isn’t much around.
    There was a reason why Shell closed the most profitable and efficient refinery at Bakersfield in the U.S.

  100. This REE mini-crisis reminds me of the very rare element (?) “unobtainium” from the film “Avatar”. Maybe the humans in the film had to go to Alpha Centauri for it because the Chinese locked up all the Um on earth.
    Just a random thought before bedtime. (yawn)

  101. William says: “The high-pressure genesis of petroleum hydrocarbons has been demonstrated using only the reagents solid iron oxide, FeO, and marble, CaCO3, 99.9% pure and wet with triple distilled water.”
    Is not the marble originally of biologic origin?
    On a related note, here’s an anecdote regarding a ‘basement reservoir’. I’ve seen samples of a very high gravity oil (looked like vegetable oil) produced from a shallow well at the margin of the Placerita Field located in the Newhall area of southern California. The well (one of several in the same area) was drilled into Pelona Schist, a foliated metamorphic rock which apparently acted as a good reservoir rock due to intense fracturing caused by its proximity to a nearby major fault. The twist is that the ‘basement reservoir’ schist was situated directly across the fault from hundreds of feet of Cenozoic sedimentary rocks. These sedimentary source rocks were located within the so called Ventura Basin, one of the world’s most prolific producers of petroleum in the early 20th century. The fault is known elsewhere in the field to have served as a trap, but was apparently leaky enough to allow a very light fraction to migrate across into the fractured schist. I don’t think it was of abiogenic origin, but the old timer that gave us the sample said he would cut it 50/50 with gasoline to run his old pickup and my friend claims to have run his lawnmower on it!

  102. redneck says:
    October 3, 2010 at 9:32 am
    The NASA press release, uses the headline “Titan’s Surface Organics Surpass Oil Reserves on Earth”.
    That may be where the Grey Lensman obtained his info.
    “Several hundred lakes and seas have been observed, with each of several dozen estimated to contain more hydrocarbon liquid than Earth’s oil and gas reserves. The dark dunes that run along the equator contain a volume of organics several hundred times larger than Earth’s coal reserves. “
    The release also states that “liquid hydrocarbons in the form of methane and ethane are present on the moon’s surface, and tholins probably make up its dunes.“The press release could have been better written, but that is what NASA put out.

  103. Ray says:
    “Maybe it is about time we think of recycling the rare earth metals from all electronics junk.”
    This is already being done in third world countries; it should be done here as well.

  104. I haven’t read all the comments here, so I’m not sure if anyone has pointed this out yet. One of the best widely-known facts that supports abiotic-origin for complex hydrocarbons is Saturn’s moon Titan. It’s atmosphere has 1.4% Methane composition. This is a huge percentage amount when compared to the Earth. Now unless that planet has a thriving (albeit alien) ecosystem that gives off methane at a regular rate, the only explanation is that there are geological processes that create it. The reason for this is that Methane will decompose over a period of time into other compounds, so the only way for Methane to exist in such huge percentages on Titan is for some consistent process to exist there. So the question is, do you think there’s a bunch of alien life on Titan? Or do you think it’s likely that the correct conditions exist there to create methane geologically? No one knows for sure, but either answer is acceptable until we land/orbit there for a significant period of time.

  105. William says:
    October 3, 2010 at 6:54 pm
    <>
    I thought I’d let this die, but you offered up these very good examples William. I was responsible for those wells in South Sumatra being drilled. One of the primary reasons my client participated was the good organic source rock surrounding the basement rock.
    I wrote “The Petroleum Geology and Future Exploration Potential of Indonesia” in which I showed how to locate organic source rocks in Indonesian lacustrian basins using seismic amplitudes. Over twenty oil companies bought the report.
    Perhaps the largest field reservoired in fractured granite would be Bach Ho, offshore Viet Nam. I have a very nice seismic line from the Russians, showing that the granite horst is surrounded by organic shales. Very much like the California example, they all tie right back to a biotic source rock.

  106. oops! lost Williams examples. Try again:
    William says:
    “In Southeast Asia, basement reservoirs are the main contributor of oil production in Vietnam. In Indonesia, to date oil and gas production from basement rocks has been minimal. However, the recent large gas discovery in pre-Tertiary fractured granites in southern Sumatra has led to a focusing of exploration in Indonesia for basement reservoirs.”

  107. First Shale Gas:
    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5868
    http://www.energybulletin.net/node/49342
    http://www.aspousa.org/index.php/2009/08/lessons-from-the-barnett-shale-suggest-caution-in-other-shale-plays/
    Abiotic Oil:
    I have no problem with hydrocarbons in the mantle. Subducting carbonate rock would be the source of that. But this process producing oil formations is a different matter. For one, oil deposits in the Atlantic cannot be from subduction zones, it’s a spreading ridge, and the oil deposits are in sedimentary layers, which can only be long after the rift has widened.
    The question I would have is if abiotic oil is true, how come not one spent deposit is refilling? The US peaked in production in the 1970’s and has been in decline ever since. Alaska is in decline and so is the North Sea. Cantarell is on its death bed (look up the geology of that, formed 65myo when it was hit with the meteor). Ghawar is in its last stages of life as they pump in more sea water than they get back in oil.
    No oil has been found in the Canadian Shield. Every oil deposit that is tapped has been shown to have a biological source rock. Some oil has migrated, some have not (see the Bakken deposit for in situ oil, it’s not possible for the oil to have seeped into it.).
    I would ask which fields of oil that have been found can definitavely be shown to be abioitic mantel derived.

  108. This article claims the the current dominate theory of oil’s origin is that is is formed from the detritus of marine microorganisms settling of the bottom of warm, shallow seas, which sediments were eventually subducted into the planet’s interior.
    I note that this and the abiotic theory are not mutually exclusive, conceivably both have produced oil which we’ve tapped.
    Even if you restrict to the abiotic theory, it means that oil has been being generated for some 3.5 billion years, continuously, not from just one period in the planet’s existence.

  109. This is precisely what the environmentalists want; the USA beholden to Communist China for our Rare-Earth materials, pulling us further to the left from our capitalist roots. What’s next – The prohibtion of growing wheat and corn in the USA? The Founding Fathers must be rolling in their graves.

  110. “Even if you restrict to the abiotic theory, it means that oil has been being generated for some 3.5 billion years, continuously, not from just one period in the planet’s existence.”
    And there in is a problem for abiotic oil. All oil fields are found in formations from a very few geological periods in the last 300 million years.

  111. “And there in is a problem for abiotic oil. All oil fields are found in formations from a very few geological periods in the last 300 million years”.
    On the contrary, this is a problem for organic oil. From here: http://www.searchanddiscovery.com/documents/abstracts/2005research_calgary/abstracts/extended/kitchka/kitchka.htm:
    “simple calculations based on average present-day rates and volumes (a conservative estimate) of hydrocarbon seepages on land and sea testify that at the present rate of seepage the world’s conventional oil reserves (proven to this date) should disappear in no more than one million years”

  112. Interesting, not one location example of any of this was referenced, so no way to check what empirical evidence there is to support the premise.
    However, I can tell you that I have experience in fluid migration in magmatic and metamorphic rocks of Protozoic age. Back in 1988 I did research on Polonium halos found in mica and flourite crystals. They were being used as evidence that the world was created in 3 minutes. The results of my research and literature search showed that the area in Bancroft Ontario is the reminents of once very high mountains. The rocks formed as “basement” rocks to those mountains. Exposed now, 900myo they were 15 to 25km under the surface. Much megmatic fluid migration took place (that produced the halos also altered the rock chemistry), much magatic intrusions took place. Pegmatites were mined up there for a variety of minerals. Though inclusions of wall rock is common in the pegmatites, not one had any inclusions of hydrocarbons (it would have been noted in the literature if there was). Except one location. A marble that had concentric rings of carbon in the matrix. Fossil stromatolites.
    So without a specific location the shows this process happening or has happened, I have a hard time accepting that this paper discredits the decades of oil geology based on an organic origin. Fields are found based on the types of fossils found in various layers.
    I have not heard of any of the deep wells (>12,000 meters) finding anything in that paper.

  113. jrwakefield: “The question I would have is if abiotic oil is true, how come not one spent deposit is refilling? “
    Eugene Island 330 is just one. Mike Ruppert lost a $1000 bet on that same question, and refused to pay up when shown the evidence:
    ==========
    WSJ, April 1999
    HOUSTON — Something mysterious is going on at Eugene Island 330.
    Production at the oil field, deep in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, was supposed to have declined years ago. And for a while, it behaved like any normal field: Following its 1973 discovery, Eugene Island 330’s output peaked at about 15,000 barrels a day. By 1989, production had slowed to about 4,000 barrels a day.
    Then suddenly — some say almost inexplicably — Eugene Island’s fortunes reversed. The field, operated by PennzEnergy Co., is now producing 13,000 barrels a day, and probable reserves have rocketed to more than 400 million barrels from 60 million. Stranger still, scientists studying the field say the crude coming out of the pipe is of a geological age quite different from the oil that gushed 10 years ago.
    http://www.science-frontiers.com/sf124/sf124p10.htm
    ==========
    See also, “Petroleum geology: Raining hydrocarbons in the Gulf,”
    Geotimes, 2003:
    http://www.geotimes.org/june03/NN_gulf.html
    Your “source rock” doesn’t account for the haze of complex hydrocarbons on Titan, the hydrocarbon rain and lakes, nor does it overcome that enthalpy problem detailed in the PNAS paper regarding the Origin of Hydrocarbon Species, by Kenney, et al.

  114. Khwarizmi says:
    October 5, 2010 at 10:48 am

    jrwakefield: “The question I would have is if abiotic oil is true, how come not one spent deposit is refilling?”
    Eugene Island 330 is just one. Mike Ruppert lost a $1000 bet on that same question, and refused to pay up when shown the evidence:
    ==========
    WSJ, April 1999
    HOUSTON — Something mysterious is going on at Eugene Island 330.

    Please report both sides of the story. From http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.163.5567&rep=rep1&type=pdf Jean Laherrère

    This increase in reserve estimate is so unusual that it led to an article in the Wall Street Journal by Christopher Cooper on April 16, 1999 entitled “Oil: a renewable resource? – Odd reservoir off Louisiana Prods Petroleum Experts To Seek a Deeper Meaning” suggesting that oil was coming from deeper sources (as for Gold’s theory from the mantle) explaining the large increase in the Middle East during the 1980s! It is really nonsense.
    In fact, the Eugene Island oil and gas field is flanked by the largest and best known fault in the Gulf (the Red Fault), which puts the reservoir in direct communication with the source rocks. Evidently, the rapid depletion of the reservoir dropped the pressure allowing it to be recharged that oil and gas from the source-rocks. But the declines have resumed, adding (from 370 Mb to 420 Mb) only about 10 % in the total reserve value. If the field had been produced with a smoother way, the decline should have been less leading to the same ultimate. But in financial term it is more profitable to produce quicker provided that the reservoir is not damaged by water coning in the process.

    I wouldn’t have paid off, but I wouldn’t have made the bet, either.
    Laherrère is a peak oil proponent, but he seems reasonably fair. You might find interesting stuff at http://www.hubbertpeak.com/laherrere/CERN200510.pdf though things have changed a bit in the last five years.

  115. Thanks Rick Werme,
    The “other side of the story” doesn’t overcome the problem with enthalpy, explain the hydrocarbons on Titan, or the closure of the most efficient and profitable refinery in the U.S.
    I notice it is very easy to find the chemical equation for photosynthesis — but not for hydrocarbon synthesis.
    cheers,
    Leon.

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