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Abiotic Oil and Gas: A Theory That Refuses To Vanish


In the West it is almost universally held that all oil and gas is derived from fossils. This is not the case elsewhere, particularly among Russian and Ukrainian scientists who have, over several generations, tenaciously propounded the notion that oil and gas are abiotic, can be found deep below the surface of the earth in most parts of the world and in very large amounts.


Western geologists and scientists find the theory either annoying or amusing and refuse to consider it seriously although there are exceptions. The theory continues to be held in much higher regard by Russian scientists and geologists (including some working in the West) for historical and perhaps ideological reasons.


Many Russian geologists and petroleum researchers credit the rise of Russia over the past 50 years as the largest producer of oil 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 ultra deep (around 40,000feet) oil and gas wells through granite and basalt based on this theory. These claims have been questioned by Western geologists and petroleum engineers.


The most recent attempt at gaining credence for the abiogenic idea was only a few months ago. A research team at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, led by Vladimir Kutherov, demonstrated that animal and plant fossils are not necessary for producing oil and natural gas. The team simulated the thermal and pressure processes that occur in the inner layers of the earth to generate hydrocarbons, the chief component of oil and natural gas. The team also noted that oil and gas has been found 7 miles below ground in Texas and fossil oil and gas could not, via, gravity have seeped down to such depths.


According to the Prof. Kutherov all types of bedrock can serve as reservoirs of hydrocarbon energy and their method of discovery can enhance exploration success rates from 20 % to 70 %. The research team has developed a new technique for locating oil and gas resources. It consists of dividing the globe into a fine grid, which corresponds to underground fissures or migration channels. Hydrocarbon resources will be found wherever migration channels intersect, predicts the team.


An  abiogenic theory of petroleum is not new, dating from the 16th century .In the 19th century two very accomplished scientists, Alexander von Humboldt and Dimitri Mendeleev( of the Periodic Table fame) advanced the concept. In the 20th century the Russian- Ukrainian School of geology emerged in the Soviet Union to vigorously formulate the modern theory of abiogenic oil and gas. In the West, the most eloquent and determined proponent was the famous astronomer Thomas Gold. After his death, Jack Kenney of Gas Resources Corporation has become the leading Western exponent.


The prevailing abiotic theory is that the full complement of hydrocarbons found in oil and gas are generated in the mantle (40 to 90 miles below the surface of the earth) by non-biological processes. These hydrocarbons then migrate out of the mantle into the crust where they escape or are trapped by impermeable strata that lead to reservoir formation.


Specific examples to support the abiotic theory have been cited over the years. Each example has been dismissed by the Western establishment as specious while it has been hailed by proponents as convincing. This is always so when a deeply entrenched belief and massive money flows encounter a subversive idea that profoundly threatens the prevailing order. The debate is becoming increasingly shrill as the two diametrically opposed views of Peak Oil and Abiogenic(Superabundant) Oil collide in a clash not only of science but, far more importantly, of money and ideology.


Specific examples 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 Teaxs-Oklahoma, the Shengli Field and Songliao Basin in Northeastern China( supposedly mantle derived natural gas), and the well known Chimaera natural gas seep in Turkey. This seep 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 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 are asserted to be of abiogenic origin. Finally, theory advocates aver that the impressive record of recent ultra deep drilling in the Gulf of Mexico supports their idea.


The matrix of scientific, political and business interests in the West, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Brazil (an emerging oil exporter of consequence) and Venezuela that refuses to countenance abiogenic theories is big and potent. These interests want oil and gas to be scarce and expensive for a variety of reasons. It is natural and understandable that no credible test of the theory will be attempted within the ambit of these interests.

The Russian authorities and oil and gas companies seem to be deeply conflicted between intellectual pride (it is their theory, after all) and the desire to keep oil and gas prices high via the idea of scarcity when talking to the rest of the world about their abiogenic oil and gas reserves.


It seems to the author, however, that China and India have compelling economic and national security interests in proving or disproving the theory, convincingly. If the theory is false then they are no worse off than today. If it is correct then they, of the major nations in the world, have the most to gain in subverting the prevailing oil and gas order of the world. So, of course, do scores of millions of ordinary Americans who care nothing about theories but want cheap, abundant, reliable oil and gas.


Seeking Alpha

17 Comments on "Abiotic Oil and Gas: A Theory That Refuses To Vanish"

  1. ronpatterson on Sun, 29th Jul 2012 4:34 pm 

    Quote: “The team also noted that oil and gas has been found 7 miles below ground in Texas and fossil oil and gas could not, via, gravity have seeped down to such depths.”

    That is just one of the many lies in this article. No oil has ever been found at such depths. People quote Russia — Sakhalin-1 as being that deep but that is simply not the case. Most of that distance was horizontal.

    Quote: “Yastreb drills down and then horizontally under the sea floor a total distance of more than seven miles (11 kilometers), making these extended-reach wells the longest in the world.”

  2. DMyers on Sun, 29th Jul 2012 6:47 pm 

    I don’t buy the abiotic oil “theory”, if that’s what it is. However, I do put more stock in the word of Russian scientists than I do in the words of minister Lindsay Williams, who has raised “abiotic oil” as the answer to our energy future. The anomalies described must be explained, but abiotic oil seems like more of a wastebasket category explanation than one based on thorough consideration of all possibilities. Beside that, it reeks of wishful thinking.

    I don’t understand how this can continue to be a mystery. If you put a beaker 1 before me, filled with abiotic oil and beaker 2 filled with regular biotic oil, they surely cannot be identical, even on the molecular level. And if there is a difference, it should align with and be explained by the existing hypotheses of the Russian scientists claiming the credit.

  3. Ham on Sun, 29th Jul 2012 8:13 pm 

    There is a direct link that can be attributed from photosynthesis to hydrocarbons. Not only that, but oil is found in sedimentary rocks: not igneous rocks. Furthermore, microbial traces are found in oil. This theory is pure denial and hokum.

  4. BillT on Mon, 30th Jul 2012 12:08 am 

    Wishful thinking by those denying that their life is about to get a whole lot more difficult. Nothing more.

  5. Keith_McClary on Mon, 30th Jul 2012 1:05 am 

    “A Theory That Refuses To Vanish”
    —->> Feb 3, 2010 <<—-

    Just let it die , please.

    If abiotic oil has been seeping up for millions of years we would be up to our armpits in the stuff. Unless it is just a trickle.

  6. keith on Mon, 30th Jul 2012 1:27 am 

    Peak oil is about not meeting supply with demand. Even if abiotic oil was real it still couldn’t solve the problem of meeting supply with demand. Is this guy selling a book?

  7. DC on Mon, 30th Jul 2012 9:48 am 

    I can think of a lot of stupid crackpot ideas that also refuse to die, simply by virtue that so many keep believing in them, even when the evidence is scant or non-existent.

    You know,

    alien abuductions
    and so on

    And now, thanks to our global big oil PR dept we can add

    -Abiotic oil (aka big-oils equivalent of a perpetual motion machine.) The ever-full oil well as it were. Course, most ‘respectable’ oil men wont touch the actual subject, since its crap, but they are totally happy at the MESSAGE the ABoil cranks are putting out, that oil is endless and no need for any of that annoying wind power, or solar.

  8. EnergyUnlimited on Mon, 30th Jul 2012 10:56 am 

    Even if oil is abiotic (and I don’t think, it is), its production rate is slow enough to make abiotic origin irrelevant.
    Eg, it will be replenished far slower than currently used.

  9. Jack Parker on Thu, 8th Jan 2015 4:37 pm 

    …. but haven’t we been told about such things as pools of methane on places other than Mother Earth?

    What’s wrong with that?

    And why did you all fail to mention Velikovsi’s writings a century ago?

    cousin jack

  10. GregT on Fri, 9th Jan 2015 12:24 am 

    Abiotic oil is not a theory, it is a fact. Tens of millions of years from now, all of the CO2 that we have put back into the environment will replenish ‘our’ oil reserves. We just need to be more patient.

  11. Gelman on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 7:52 pm 

    Most of the folks who dismiss abiotic oil seem to do so because of the wisdom (the lack thereof) inherent in continuously using oil under the assumption that we will never run out of it. And under this logic alone, I cannot argue.

    But if the world governments were really serious about ending our reliance on oil, then why are many of them backing away from nuclear fission? We have a way to provide all of the electricity that people would ever need. The truth is, there are several problems that could be solved with better technology; the ability to store larger quantities of energy for longer periods of time.

    If we could find something which has the energy density of gasoline that we could use for transportation.

    I don’t know about any of you, but I will not lie down and accept this ‘Max Max’ energy scenario when it doesn’t even have to be necessary with the technology that we already have.

  12. Peter Grafström on Mon, 23rd Oct 2017 4:45 pm 

    Whether or not oil has been found at say 12 kms depth, it would be no proof against being of fossile origin. Since fossile is also found high up in mountains as a side effect of crustal convection which circulates large parts of the earths surface both way up and way down. 12 km is nothing compared to how deep down the surface layer may descend over 100s of millions of years.
    However the details in that mechanism ought to differ from the case of mere sedimentation without any subsequent phase. Simulations of the evolution of the earths continental drift as it applies to the current subject could be decisive. For if the crust only digs down to such debts that it melts and the fossile material is reduced to inorganic matter then it doesnt seem to explain very deep finds. There would have to be more small scale ‘turbulence’ in the way the surface layer blends into lower layers.

  13. Rob Stutz on Sat, 7th Apr 2018 11:30 pm 

    Why do we in the western world seem to believe only in the black and white of things, why can there not be varying degrees of facts to both theories. Both theories have demonstrated that the production of hydrocarbons can be achieved by their proscribed method. So why cant our supply of oil be produced by both method? And as for the time variable mentioned above. I believe that the utilization of the FT method of oil production by both Germany and South Africa demonstrated that the time necessary was in days and not years.

  14. Robert Cartwright on Wed, 11th Sep 2019 6:11 pm 

    The website
    claims that the recently drilled Z44 Chayvo well in the Sakhalin peninsula is 40,000 feet deep. Is this claim a lie as well? The well operator is Exxon Neftegas Ltd.

  15. Dr. Ramon Argila de Torres y Sandoval on Mon, 14th Mar 2022 8:45 pm 

    I think it is simple. The peak oil people, who need oil to be limited and running out, have staked a claim to that end. That they could be proven wrong infuriates them. As to arguments that abiotic oil is not, explain Titan. How many dinosaur astronauts had to fly shuttles round robin to Titan from Earth and back with cargo loads of plant material for Titan to have so many inorganic chemicals in its atmosphere?

  16. Dr. Ramon Argila de Torres y Sandoval on Mon, 14th Mar 2022 8:48 pm 

    I think it is simple. The peak oil people, who need oil to be limited and running out, have staked a claim to that end. That they could be proven wrong infuriates them. As to arguments that abiotic oil is not, explain Titan. How many dinosaur astronauts had to fly shuttles round robin to Titan from Earth and back with cargo loads of plant material for Titan to have so many inorganic (not organic) chemicals in its atmosphere?

  17. Biden’s hairplug on Tue, 15th Mar 2022 12:14 am 

    Ramon, have you looked at oil prices lately? It doesn’t matter if oil is abiotic or not (I think too it is abiotic). What matters is is that it is running out. And declaring major producers the enemy isn’t very helpful either.

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