SCIENTISTS at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm have managed to prove that fossils from animals and plants are not necessary for crude oil and natural gas to be generated.
The findings are revolutionary since this means, on the one hand, that it will be much easier to find these sources of energy, and on the other hand, that they can be found all over the globe.
They would also appear to vindicate long-running claims by Russian scientists that fossil sources are not required, but which have been largely dismissed.
“Using our research, we can even say where oil could be found in Sweden,” says Vladimir Kutcherov, a professor at the Division of Energy Technology at KTH.
Together with two research colleagues, 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 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 10.5km (six miles) in the state of Texas, for example, which is rich in oil deposits.
As 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.
“There is no doubt that our research proves that crude oil and natural gas are generated without the involvement of fossils. All types of bedrock can serve as reservoirs of oil,” says Kutcherov, adding that this is true of land areas that have not yet been prospected for these energy sources.
But the discovery has more benefits. The degree of accuracy in finding oil is enhanced dramatically – from 20% to 70%. Since drilling for oil and natural gas is a very expensive process, the cost picture will be radically altered for petroleum companies and, in the end, probably for consumers as well.
“The savings will be in the many billions,” says Kutcherov.
To identify where it is worthwhile to drill for natural gas and oil, he has used his research to arrive at a new method.
It involves dividing the globe into a finely meshed grid. The grid corresponds to rock fissures, so-called “migration channels”, through underlying layers under the surface of the Earth. Wherever these fissures meet, it is suitable to drill.
According to Kutcherov, these research findings are extremely important, not least as 61% of the world’s energy consumption derives from crude oil and natural gas.
The next step in this research work will involve more experiments – but, above all, refining the method will make it easier to find places where it is suitable to drill for oil&gas.