Natural Gas, Oil and Coal are Abiogenic - not Fossil Based
by J. Olson and R. Ashworth
Any listing of the greatest technical developments of the 20th century would certainly include petroleum refineries and nuclear power plants. Petroleum refineries produce transportation fuels and a myriad of plastic products and textiles that are mandatory for modern life. Harnessing the stored energy in coal during the 19th century allowed the industrial revolution, and released humanity from total dependence on muscle and wind power. Petroleum extraction and refinement in the 20th century, released humanity from the shackles of muscle power on an even greater scale, this due to the greater efficiency and portability of internal versus external combustion of steam driven power.
Nuclear fission, first in atomic weapons and then in nuclear power plants showed human mastery of the greatest known stored energy, that of the nuclear bonds of a single atom. The cold war military had overwhelming control over the development of fission energy, and critics say made the poor choice of Uranium over Thorium. In the words of Ben Buchwalter, “Before it was born Thorium was killed by the sins of Uranium” (1). Contained within Earth’s 259 trillion cubic miles of molten rock are over 2 million cubic miles of Uranium, and over 8 million cubic miles of Thorium. Planet Earth has a billion year stockpile of these valuable energy producers.
Science has outgrown previous false paradigms in the past, and in identifying and eliminating false paradigms usually ushers in greater opportunities for human prosperity. As counter intuitive as it might seem, nature has developed NATURAL petroleum refineries and controlled nuclear fission long before mankind. To shatter the current false paradigm, we must educate ourselves on physical reality. Our planet, our solar system and our Universe are all natural producers of petroleum, a production that is in no way dependent on the finite “fossil fuel” paradigm.
Petroleum refineries were originally constructed to break down long chain hydrocarbon molecules into useable smaller molecules. Fractional distillation towers used varying temperatures and pressures to separate these into refined end products like gasoline or diesel fuel. Shortages in some of the more desired end products lead to the development of technologies to provide these products in other ways.
The 1930’s era Fisher-Tropsch process and the WW II Bergius process described below show man’s ability to use the non-traditional feedstock of coal to produce liquid fuel. The newer process of “Gas-to-Liquid”, or G-T-L, refining uses the simplest hydrocarbon, methane [CH4], to produce longer chain hydrocarbons including the C8H18 of gasoline. The remarkable thing is that the Earth possesses the same conditions to produce these human technical achievements, as well as the nuclear power necessary to run this natural refinery.
Natural Petroleum Production
Natural gas, oil and coal are touted as coming from natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms (dead plants and animals) and have been given the name, “Fossil Fuels”. If you think about this, animals or plants that die, decompose on the surface in an oxidizing or air environment. Anaerobic (no air) decomposition would not take place unless maybe the earth was covered with quicksand. This seems illogical.
The term “Abiogenic” means non-biological or not associated with or derived from living organisms. According to the abiogenic hypothesis, petroleum was formed from deep carbon deposits, perhaps dating to the formation of the Earth. Supporters of abiogenic origin suggest that a great deal more petroleum exists on Earth than commonly thought.
The presence of methane and oil on Saturn's moonTitan and methane in the atmospheres of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are evidence of the formation of hydrocarbons without biology. NASA appears to have also found oil on Mars (2). Below is what looks to be an oil spill inside Hebes Chasma on Mars. The oil appears to have run out of the collapsed wall of the salt dome at an elevation + 443 m. It has run down the slope and pooled on the plain below, at an elevation of -1457 m. The top of the exposed salt dome is at 2807m, so the amount of oil is significant. There are similar crude oil seeps on Earth. Close to the McKittrick oil field in California, there is a similar natural oil spill.
Among early Russian proponents (3) of the inorganic origin of hydrocarbon formation were Mendeleyev (1877) who assumed that hydrocarbons were generated within the Earth by interaction of water with iron carbide and Vernadsky (1933) who concluded that, with increasing depth in the Earth’s crust, the oxygen content would decrease to zero and the content of hydrogen would increase leading to the formation of hydrocarbons at depth. The abiogenic approach is very logical.
A brilliant summary of the Russian petroleum science to 2006 is provided by Marakshev in his “Formation of Oil and Gas Fields” in which he describes some of the telltale elements found in petroleum deposits. (4) The Russians have correctly identified some of the natural processes, but have neglected the most important elemental atom feedstock from the fission process. For now, we will review the geology of Earth’s refinery. We will then review the telltale trace elements as the final clue in solving the Abiogenic Oil puzzle.
The temperature measurements obtained from an 8,500 meter drill hole was used to extrapolate temperature at depth within the earth’s outer crust using a power regression analysis curve. At a depth of 25 miles into the earth, the temperature would be around 2000 oF and pressure would be some 150,000 psig; these conditions would cause liquid fuels to form, see Figure 2 and 3.
The Fischer–Tropsch reaction of synthesis gas is operated in the temperature range of 302–572 °F and a pressure of 435 psig. Sasol, in South Africa, gasifies coal as a feedstock for this process. Higher temperatures lead to faster reactions and higher conversion rates but also tend to favor methane production. Increasing the pressure leads to higher conversion rates and also favors formation of long-chained hydrocarbons both of which are desirable. Typical pressures range from one to several tens of atmospheres.
The Bergius Process that was used to make gasoline by Germany during the Second World War was a method of production of liquid fuels through the hydrogenation of high-volatile bituminous coal at high temperatures up to 1650 oF and pressures up to 10,000 psig. The Consol Synthetic Fuels pilot plant in the late sixties, converted coal into gasoline by dissolving the coal in a hydrogen donor solvent and processing the formed coal extract under a pressure of 3500 psi and temperature of 800 oF using a cobalt molybdenum catalyst and hydrogen.
A large number of other hydrogenation metal catalysts are also known. Complexes containing Aluminum, Magnesium, Palladium, Platinum, Potassium, Rhodium, Ruthenium, Iridium, Nickel, Titanium, Tungsten, Chromium, Iron, Silicon, Sodium, Zinc, etc. are reported to be hydrogenation catalysts.
The difference between getting natural gas, oil or coal is just based on different temperature and pressure and other conditions. The carbon to hydrogen ratio is primarily what changes for the three different fuels. Here are the concentrations of the major elements in the earth - so significant underground catalysts are available for the abiogenic production of oil. Table 1.
Sasol also announced plans in 2012 to build a U.S. plant to convert natural gas to liquid fuels - a GTL plant. Shell Oil has also installed several of these plants. Natural gas is combined with oxygen and converted in a state of the art three-stage process into a range of gas-to-liquids products.
The natural gas fields vary in purity. They is always a mixture of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) and other impurities, but the percent CO2 varies from “trace” amounts to as much as 70% or more. It has long been known that if mixtures of methane and carbon dioxide are heated to 1800 oF, they react to form hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO): CH4 + CO2 = 2CO + 2H2. This is called “reforming.” The reaction is endothermic, meaning it absorbs heat. Natural gas reforming has been done in large scale as part of various industrial processes for decades. Further there is plenty of methane available to create carbon dioxide and hydrogen for liquefaction hydrogenation reactions via reforming. Nickel with alumina (Al2O3) is a catalyst that promotes the reactions. This is most likely Nature’s GTL process to make CO and H2 for producing liquids fuels.
Russian geologists and petroleum researchers credit the rise of Russia over the past 50 years as the largest producer of oil (5) and second largest producer of natural gas in the world to the successful application of the abiogenic theory of oil and gas formation. The Russians claim to have successfully drilled over 300 deep (around 40,000 feet) oil and gas wells through granite and basalt based on this theory.
Proponents claim that abiogenic proof is also found in the fact that many capped wells, which were formerly dry of oil, are found to be plentiful again after many years. They claim that the replenished oil is manufactured by natural forces inside the Earth's mantle. Specific examples (6) cited are the impressive recharging from below, not the sides, of the Eugene Island field (wells in deep decline exhibiting sharply increased production; recovery far in excess of estimated remaining reserves) off new Orleans; the White Tiger oil field in Vietnam (discovered by a Russian company, Vietsovpetro) in fractured basement granite; the Panhandle-Hugoton field (high helium content) in Texas-Oklahoma, the Shengli Field and Songliao Basin in Northeastern China (supposedly mantle derived natural gas).
The well known Chimaera natural gas seep in Turkey (7) has been known to be continuously active for thousands of years and represents the largest cataloged emission of abiogenic methane on land. The vast amounts of methane released by the biggest mud volcano eruptions are allegedly greater than that found in the most abundant natural gas fields in commercial production. The presence of considerable amounts of hydrocarbons not associated with tectonic structures is also presented as evidence and, of course, the enormous methane hydrate deposits found all over the world is asserted to be of abiogenic origin. The scientific, political and business interests in the West, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Brazil (an emerging oil exporter) and Venezuela refuse to accept abiogenic theories. Critics take the view these interests want oil and gas to be scarce and expensive to line their pocketbooks.
Specific examples to support the abiotic theory have been cited over the years. Incongruously, such examples have been ignored or dismissed by many in the developed West as specious while it has been hailed by Eastern proponents as convincing. In recent years, as more evidence has been obtained, the debate is becoming increasingly heated. Opposing views of Peak Oil versus Abiogenic (Superabundant) Oil collide with much discussion having become mired in non-science issues linked to money and ideology. Parallels have been drawn between this issue and the climate change debate.
In Russia it has been more common to accept the concept that oil has a deep origin within our earth, and that it has little to do with fossilized life forms. However, it was not before Dr Peter Szatmari, a geologist in Petrobras (Brazil), in the 1980's found a compelling correlation between concentrations of trace metals in crude oils with those of serpentine rock in nearby basement rocks, that the link became plausible among western researchers. As wider interest grew the American Association for Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) arranged a one-day research conference in Calgary, Canada, in 2005. At the end of the day, Dr Barry Katz, who chaired the research conference, made this remark: "Yes, we conclude that there are abiotic hydrocarbons on Earth."
Recently, the Sydney Morning Herald reported a very large oil field discovery (8) by Linc Energy. The gigantic find of what is estimated to be $20 trillion worth of oil was made in South Australia's Arckaringa Basin. Pro-abiotic experts say it is another thumb in the eye for believers of the ‘peak oil’ theory and 'fossil fuels' theories.
The Fission Powered Petroleum Refinery
The fact that humans have discovered a process, the GTL mentioned above, to create long chain hydrocarbons only adds to the argument that nature can and does replicate this process. It seems increasingly compelling to argue that it is nuclear fission that provides the heat and elemental feedstock necessary for todays and millions of years of natural petroleum production. And more analysts are persuaded that it is Earth’s internal fission and the Sun’s fusion that are the driving and sustaining forces of life on our planet, as demonstrated by the widely agreed facts illustrated below.
It takes massive amounts of energy to extract and refine Uranium into useable quantities necessary for nuclear bomb or power plant use. The effort is rewarded because the stored energy in a pound of Uranium is 2 million times the energy in a ton of TNT, the reason for the mega-ton rating of bombs. In addition to giving off this tremendous heat energy, the breakdown of these large atoms frees the neutrons and protons of the parent atom to form new “daughter” atoms.
The decay of each Uranium atom releases 92 protons and 141 to 146 neutrons which will form a range of daughter ‘elemental’ atoms. These elemental by-products can provide some of the feedstock for Earth’s Hydrocarbon production and the massive heat for the abiogenic petroleum production. Entrained in the petroleum deposits that Marakushev describes are a full range of Inert Gases. To discover the obvious role of elemental atoms in this process we need consider only the smallest, biggest and most abundant of these Inert Gas molecules.
Inert Gases were correctly named “Inert” because these Group VIII elements cannot naturally form molecules with other elements. When scientists in the 1960’s were able to force some unnatural bonds the name was changed to “Noble Gases”, but the fact remains, this group of elements can only exist in the Earth’s interior as by-products of fission. The smallest atom of this group is Helium, the largest is Radon, and the most abundant is Argon. The presence of these gases in the mantle provides valuable clues to reactions in Earth’s nuclear refinery.
Helium has a specific gravity of 0.16 and any Helium atom that makes it to the Earth’s surface is on an immediate one-way trip to the Top of the Atmosphere, where it may exit, or it may be held temporarily until absorbing the needed extra solar energy necessary for escape velocity. This behavior is described in “Empirical Model of the Thermosphere” at Springer.com (9). In no case does Helium interact in any way that could reintroduce this element back into the Earth’s mass.
Radon has a half-life of 3.8 days, meaning a pound of Radon becomes just an eighth of an ounce in just 21 days. For this gas to be produced and rise to detectable levels is proof of continuous, but NOT constant production. Earth’s 10 million cubic miles of fissionable material is subject to migration within the magna, causing varying pressures and temperatures which effect fission rates. Earth’s fissionable material is subject to varying amounts of particle bombardments from solar and galactic sources. Earth’s fissionable material is partially protected by a varying magnetosphere. With so many variables, it is implausible that fissionable materials would have a “constant” half-life decay.
Argon has a specific gravity of 1.38 and the most common isotopes are very stable. Given the 4 billion years of intense geologic activity on Earth, it is impossible to believe that any of the entrained Argon, shown abundant in the Marakshev data, is primordial. There are over 1500 known radioactive nuclides on Earth and it is improbable that all daughter atom production paths are known. There may well be an additional array of natural, elemental atom production that must be considered.
There is 0.55 ppmv of hydrogen in the earth’s atmosphere and 1.79 ppmv of methane but these equate to 216 million tons of hydrogen and 5,611 million tons of methane. They are not there because of man’s activities. Only a tiny fraction of a percent of the Earth’s Hydrogen, Oxygen and Carbon atoms have ever been in an organic life-form. It is thus less persuasive to insist to that petroleum can ONLY come from this limited ‘organic’ origin feedstock.
As implausible as the Earth’s petroleum refinery may seem to the under-informed, the Earth’s natural nuclear reactor is even more implausible. In 1972, French physicist, Francis Perrin, discovered a series of 15 natural reactors at the 1.7 billion year old, natural fission reactor at Oklo, in Gabon Africa (10). This site had intermittent operation for over a million years. This geologic artifact is proof that nature can refine Uranium to critical mass. It does seem to be the case that mankind’s successful technical achievements mimic nature.
Recently, the “First Geothermal Energy Map of the USA Now in Google” was produced showing current hot spots (11). It is most logical to conclude that these current geologic hot spots occur over natural fissionable material nodes in the Earth’s mantle. It is most logical to conclude that since these fission nodes vary over time and location, that the resulting heat has a surface manifestation. It is most logical to conclude that many surface weather anomalies have deep Earth origins. There is more expressed on this subject under the “Geo-nuclear” tab at the Faux Science Slayer website. (12)
As the evidence grows ever more compelling it becomes increasingly incumbent upon government-funded scientists to engage in meaningful dialogue on this apparent peak oil fable to allow deficiencies in knowledge and understanding to be supplanted by a better understanding of our physical reality.
1. Thorium: A Tipping Point in History, 2/03/10, Environauts.com
2. TORSDAG 27, There is Crude Oil on Mars, Sept. 2012.
3. G. Glasby, Abiogenic Origin of Hydrocarbons: An Historical Overview, Geology, vol. 56, no. 1, 85–98, 2006.
4. A. A. Marakushev , S. A. Marakushev . Formation of Oil and Gas Fields. Lithology and Mineral Resources September 2008, Volume 43, Issue 5 , pp 454-469
5. Russia - World’s largest oil producer The Voice of Russia , Artyom Kobzev Jan 22, 2013,
6. Abiotic Oil and Gas: A Theory That Refuses To Vanish, Feb 3, 2010
7. G. Etiope, M.Schoell, H. Hosgörmez Abiotic methane flux from the Chimaera seep and Tekirova ophiolites (Turkey): Understanding gas exhalation from low temperature serpentinization and implications for Mars, Earth and Planetary Science Letters 310 (2011) 96–104.
8. “Reality check for Linc '$20 trillion' find”, Sydney Morning Herald, Paddy Manning, January 25,2013.