Now there is a new paper — in Nature Geoscience (abstract) no less — that claims to have discovered how the non-biological origin (abiogenic) of petroleum occurs. Apart from advancing an esoteric argument, what this means is that petroleum need not be a finite resource. Should the experiment be able to predict where petroleum is found, we will have practically unlimited amounts of oil and natural gas.
From Science Daily:
[…] Together with two research colleagues, Vladimir Kutcherov has simulated the process involving pressure and heat that occurs naturally in the inner layers of the earth, the process that generates hydrocarbon, the primary component in oil and natural gas.
According to Vladimir Kutcherov, the findings are a clear indication that the oil supply is not about to end, which researchers and experts in the field have long feared.
He adds that there is no way that fossil oil, with the help of gravity or other forces, could have seeped down to a depth of 10.5 kilometers in the state of Texas, for example, which is rich in oil deposits. As Vladimir Kutcherov sees it, this is further proof, alongside his own research findings, of the genesis of these energy sources – that they can be created in other ways than via fossils. This has long been a matter of lively discussion among scientists. [….]
If true, this upends a century of what geologists — myself included — have been taught about how petroleum is formed and where it should be found. This would be an unbelievable scientific breakthrough.
Pigilito points out that the theory of biogenic origins of oil has been quite successful in predicting where major oilfields are to be found. This new theory of oil origin would have to up that predictive power considerably (finding oil where is was previously thought not to exist) to have a snowball’s chance in a very hot place of wide acceptance.
But suppose it turns out to be true. Club of Rome? Peak Oil? All panic for nothing… Wouldn’t that be great?