Non-Biological Origin of Petroleum?

Another one from the memory banks. A few years ago, I read about a chenist/physicist? -Dr. Thomas Gold, who had a theory that oil is not of biological origin. Instead, he prposed that hydrogen and carbon combine in the high pressure found deep in the earth, to for crude oil. This says in effect-don’t worry about depleting our oil resrves-there’s more on the way!
Obviously, if he’s right, we have nothing to worry about. An experiment was done to test his theories-it was to drill into igneous rock (granite in Sweden). Last I heard, they ran out of money-but did find traces of oil - where it should’nt be!
Has this theory been disproved? If it is true, should we worry about conserving oil?

Nothing ever came of Dr. Gold’s oil well; they drilled but came up dry. I’d have to say that he was wrong.

Haven’t heard much from Thomas Gold since the mid-80’s, when they drilled an expensive test of his theory of abiogenic genesis of methane. They drilled a paleo fracture zone associated with an ancient meteor impact with the earth in the hopes that they would be able to exploit the anticipated permeability of the fracture zone to test for hydrocarbons w/o having to actually drill all the way through the mantle. As I vaguely remember it, they encountered some mud log “shows”, which is to say their analysis of materials returned from the drill hole showed some weak evidence of hydrocarbons. Mud logs are notorious for false indications of potential hydrocarbon reservoirs (see my quote at the Teeming Millions Home Page - ); they are subject to contamination by the efforts made to drill the well.

So, they really got nothing to write home about. Serious explorationists have voiced little argument w/Gold’s hypothesis but it is unproven and will likely remain so in today’s energy market. Be aware that Gold never (as far as I ever knew) contested the biogenic origin of the hydrocarbon reserves upon which we now draw for energy. He simply proposed an alternate source for gas (not oil). He may be right, but until gas gets up to $8/mcf (currently ~$2.70; I’m talking natural gas - not what you pay at the pump). Whose going to find it profitable to fund him in drilling $50-$100 million dollar wells when we can still find the stuff a lot cheaper ($200,000 - $400,000 wells)?

I’m tired and it’s late (that sounds so much like the meterologist on the radio - “partly cloudy, hot & humid”), so I’m not tonight going to tackle the costs of development & production which include strange stuff for my gulf coast engineers - like how do you contain magma flow downhole (perish it should be uphole)?

There’s something disturbing about the implied simplicity of the energy business in my earlier post. It ain’t quite that simple.


I do remember reading an article a few years ago about this topic. Science, Popular Science, or the Washington Post’s Monday science synopsis page. Sorry I can’t be more specific but those might be the sites to search for more info. But, I do remember the statement by whoever was the author that hydrocarbon reserves were NOT fossil fuels. For whatever it is worth; there’s something in the literature about this.

To whom it may concern:

Check out the following link from ScienceDaily; it’s only a few days old.
Apparently, Gold has received at least some degree of vindication: