Fossils From Animals And Plants Are Not Necessary For Crude Oil And Natural Gas, Swedish Researchers Find
The abiotic oil
formation theory suggests that crude oil is the result of naturally occurring and possibly ongoing geological processes. This theory was developed in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, as the Union needed to be self sufficient in terms of producing its own energy. The science behind the theory is sound and is based on experimental evidence in both the laboratory and in the field. This theory has helped to identify and therefore develop large numbers of gas and oil deposits. Examples of such fields are the South Khylchuyu field and the controversial Sakhalin II field.
Methane-derived hydrocarbons produced under upper-mantle conditions
Anton Kolesnikov1,2, Vladimir G. Kutcherov2,3 & Alexander F. Goncharov1
There is widespread evidence that petroleum originates from biological processes1, 2, 3. Whether hydrocarbons can also be produced from abiogenic precursor molecules under the high-pressure, high-temperature conditions characteristic of the upper mantle remains an open question. It has been proposed that hydrocarbons generated in the upper mantle could be transported through deep faults to shallower regions in the Earth's crust, and contribute to petroleum reserves4, 5. Here we use in situ Raman spectroscopy in laser-heated diamond anvil cells to monitor the chemical reactivity of methane and ethane under upper-mantle conditions. We show that when methane is exposed to pressures higher than 2 GPa, and to temperatures in the range of 1,000-1,500 K, it partially reacts to form saturated hydrocarbons containing 2-4 carbons (ethane, propane and butane) and molecular hydrogen and graphite. Conversely, exposure of ethane to similar conditions results in the production of methane, suggesting that the synthesis of saturated hydrocarbons is reversible. Our results support the suggestion that hydrocarbons heavier than methane can be produced by abiogenic processes in the upper mantle.
Other relevant studies:
1. Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, District of Columbia 20015, USA
2. Lomonosov Moscow State Academy of Fine Chemical Technology, 117571 Moscow, Russia
3. Royal Institute of Technology, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden