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Peak Oil or Nonsense - Are Wells Refilling or Running Dry?

Updated on June 9, 2011

A Finite Resource?

Do you remember back in school when you were taught about oil? You were taught how it was made, where it can from, what it was used for, and how important it was to the world economy. Of all the so called facts, the most impressive lesson was that it was finite resource.

Put A Dinosaur In Your Tank

We were all taught that millions of years ago the earth was a warm paradise filled with large roaming cold blooded dinosaurs lush green vegetation. As each generation of plant and animal life died off the material would lay, rot, and be covered with sediment. Over time as layers were created, the top layers would create immense pressure and heat on the lower layers slowly preserving and turning dead trees and animals into a thick gooey substance we call oil.

It Just Never Sank In

Thinking it out rationally the dots just never connected. They were no good answers to rational questions.

  • First there seems to be a numbers problem. For the billions of barrels of oil that we know to exist, there had to be trillions upon trillions of dinosaurs and who knows how many forests arranged in neat piles to create all the oil wells that are being tapped today. Not to mention the wells yet to be discovered.
  • Then we have the scavenger problem. Like today, most of the carcasses were probably an easy meal. It is likely that dinosaurs played a very small part in the process.
  • How did the dinosaurs and trees collect in these pits upon death? Were they driven to the nearest future oil reserve by instinct when death was imminent? Most likely not. Where they dropped they died.
  • Given much of the earth was covered with life and forests then would not make sense the most of the earth would have a thin layer of oil throughout?

Does scientific theory have to make sense? My best guess is - not.

Mystery in the Gulf

In 1973 oil was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 80 miles south of Louisiana known as Eugene Island 330. Producing 15,000 barrels per day, it was thought the well had seen better days when in 1989 its output dropped to 4,000 barrels per day. In 1990 the production of the well increased to about 13,000 barrels daily and has held steady. Although its output has slightly dropped it still refuses to run dry.

Want a Refill - Is That Possible?

Scientist working at the site discovered two important changes in the oil properties. Its age was more recent than in previous years and its temperature was hotter. Using 3-D seismic technology scientist found a deep fault at the bottom of the well. What they saw startled, intrigued, and forced them to rethink the origins of oil. What they clearly saw was a deep fault gushing oil and refilling the well. There was no debate about it.

Mystery in the Mideast and Elsewhere

It's been said that the Mideast oil was a finite resource and could last 40 or 50 years at best. Yet over the past 25 years, reserves have more than doubled. With no new wells geologist have been hard pressed to explain why and it appears there is no end in sight. These fields have been methodically exploited since the first gusher was discovered. Today, OPEC is pumping over 30 million barrels of oil per day.

Cook Island in the Gulf of Mexico and oil fields in Uzbekistan are other examples of wells that refuse to dry out. Many wells around the world are refilling.

What's the deal?

Hydrocarbons are the deal. A hydrocarbon is a compound, organic in source, containing only hydrogen and carbon. While there are many types of hydrocarbons the simplest is Methane. It is one type that many scientists believe may be in great quantities deep within the earth.

Methane is released and bubbles up from the ocean floor constantly in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Methane gas is poisonous but you won’t find environmentalists crying foul over this one! Perhaps they have a different agenda?

Hydrocarbons deep within the earth and under intense pressure create a thick syrup. As it moves upward toward the mantle, sedimentation and bacteria give it a biological footprint.

So Why The Big Secret?

The are some out there who believe that the discovery of oil was the biggest disaster in human history. They believe (so they say) the burning of fuel causes Global Warming, and releases to much CO2 into the atmosphere. However, these same people heat their homes, drive their cars, and cook their food using fuels made from oil. Just like we all do.

Going green is fashionable and profitable. History has shown there are billions to be made from fear, panic, government subsidies, and failed technologies.

Some scientists refuse to accept change or common sense. They resist any notion to uncover the truth due to their own bias be it from political pressure or their own belief system. They believe the refilling of wells is simply oil that was always there is being forced upward. Yet there is no explanation of why the oil would defy gravity or why the replacement oil's dated age would be newer.

It would seem that if oil is continuously manufactured and has nowhere to go, then it would have to be forced up though any crack or crevice it can find. But that's not scientific proof. Common sense isn't considered scientific. It just doesn't fit the agenda.

It should be noted that the first oil discovered was not by drilling. Oil has been used for thousands of years and was found in seeps in many areas. While records may show drilling may have begun around 375 AD, oil was recovered from ground level and used by many early civilizations.

The demand for oil is at an all time high and is growing especially with the industrialization of India and China. But the worlds reserves are also growing and not just because of new discoveries. Past shortages have been due to production as will future shortages.

Oil is a renewable resource and the only question is how fast. Instead of politics, efforts should be put into finding oil reserves that refill themselves and understanding just how this process works.

It is unfortunate that our political leaders cater to the mislead agenda presented by environmentalists groups for the sake of control, power, and funding. So long as this continues, the cost of energy will be more than we can truly afford.


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    • profile image

      Tyler 2 years ago

      you guys are morons. "Yet there is no explanation of why the oil would defy gravity" uh, yes, there is. ever heard of density? its what makes oil separate from vinegar. naturally, with the absence of the oil previously there, oil would seep up due to the higher pressures at deeper points within the earth because it has lower density than the bedrock surrounding it. as to the "why the replacement oil's dated age would be newer" I have found that statement nowhere else, even very right leaning sites like dont state something like that, so the only explanation is that you pulled that out of your ass to make your article seem better. and the "For the billions of barrels of oil that we know to exist, there had to be trillions upon trillions of dinosaurs and who knows how many forests" are you familliar with the time periods that came before the dinosaurs? like the precambrian, cambrian, ordovican, silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, and Permian. ya know like 7/8ths of the time on earth, with simple life forms going as far back as 3.6 billion years ago. thats a lot of life forms to make oil from, so it makes sense that they would be deeper down than others. so is there more oil than we originally thought, yes. is it still a finite resource, certainly.

    • profile image

      Reality TV and other myths 4 years ago

      When I worked for the University we built a new Admin building and it was discovered that there was an abandoned oil well on the property where the new Admin building was to be located. After an investigation into the abandoned oil well it was determined that the well was viable again and could provide a steady source of income to the school. Alas the powers that be could not square their desire for a steady source of income with the politics against the "fossil fuel" industry and a perfectly good oil well was capped and buried under the new Admin building.

    • profile image

      Reality TV and other myths 4 years ago

      I noticed the postings about biotic hypothesis and the "predicative capabilities" of it. Sounds like more nonsensical drivel to fit things into preconceived ideas about the geologic strata to support a theory regardless of the facts against it.

      Here's an interesting question how did all this vegetation and biotic material get so far under the bedrock?

      Here is an interesting fact that geologists can't explain. Coal miners have found numerous trees running vertically right through horizontal layers of geologic strata that according to current "accepted hypothesis" each layer took many millions of years to accumulate.

      Shoots a hole right through the whole Carboniferous period taking many millions of years to lay down a layer of strata.

      I've seen too many geologists struggle to explain how supposedly later strata periods are below supposedly older strata periods. This happens much more frequently than most geologists are willing to admit.

      The point is science is not science when it becomes tied to a hypothesis to support a theory in lieu of evidence that disproves said hypothesis and theory. At least religion is honest in the fact that they rely on faith in matters that they cannot provide quantifiable evidence to support a hypothesis.

    • profile image

      Mike Hunton 4 years ago

      The more fuel burned the more people learn. If were all paying for cheap fuel and everyone is employed, because of this cheap fuel. Then sooner or later some genius, who would of never reached his potential, will be goofing around and invent something to replace rock oil. But if the money guys just keep limiting it use, then progress will slow down. It's just make sense, as history shows. The more your burn, the more your learn, the more time people will have to self actualize, the faster humans will progress.

      The old vampire movies have it right. When you stake a vampire they turn to dust, not into a drop of crude oil. lol

    • profile image

      esparatable 5 years ago

      Al Gore won the election, then lost the election the next day. Al Gore is told: Just be quiet and wait. There was Y2K, there was peak oil and companies made billions from these lies and now Al Gore with his carbon credits company. Nice buy off I think. Not that these things happen, I just like making up silly stories

    • profile image

      Jaqbly 5 years ago

      Global warming isn't from co2 emissions, we are experiencing global warming because we don't have as much oil in the earth to keep it cool. We use oil as fuel and also as a cooling agent like in an engine. The earth uses it to maintain climate control. this is my theory, and I would love to see some one do a study on it. Think about it, does it make sense?

    • joer4x4 profile image

      joer4x4 6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Well said!

      I think few realize that without oil and gas life would be like it was a few centuries ago. Hard and short.

    • profile image

      Larry Wall 6 years ago

      My mistake in my last comment. The author of The Prize is Daniel Yergin and not Yergen.

    • profile image

      Larry Wall 6 years ago

      To get an idea about the politics of oil read The Prize by Daniel Yergen. But there are a few points to be made. When we started looking for oil, we took the first oil we could find, the easy oil. It is like looking for a lost object, once you find it, you stop looking. Once you hit oil, you quit drilling.

      Bad conservation practices were used in the early days and too much oil was pumped out too fast, leaving vast amounts trapped, It is estimated that 45 percent of the oil in the Spindletop Field in Texas was not recoverable because of the lack of pressure to drive the oil to the surface.

      There are vast amount of oil under the Gulf and other places, but Technology is just now getting there.

      So major oil companies did go overseas and formed alliances with foreign governments, which later nationalized their oil industry and sent their early corporate partners packing.

      An avalanche of rules and regulations did slow production of U.S. 0il in the late 60s and early 70s, causing us to import oil.

      Today, oil is a global commodity. We once had price regulations on oil, we do not have that any longer and we should not.

      There is plenty of oil. I agree in theory with the author of this hub that oil is a renewable resource to some degree. I never accepted the dinosaur story. I believe new oil forms over decades or centuries, but it does form. That is my opinion. I am not a scientist. I cannot prove my theory or even provide evidence. It is just a logical conclusion.

      We were also told in elementary school that natural gas was a finite resource. Now we have an abundance of natural gas, so much that we are exporting it. In addition, there is something called Gas Hydrates, which is frozen gas, deep in the oceans. We know it is there. Samples have been recovered. However, the technology has not been developed for tapping into these frozen structures and getting the gas to the surface, without having it evaporate into the ocean's waters. The industry will figure it out one day. It will be expensive, but it will extend our natural gas supply for centuries.

      Fossil fuels are in this world for a reason and that reason is to provide power and the building blocks for our civilization. There is no alternative that has been put forth that can replace oil or natural gas in all ways. We can create BTUs from almost anything but nothing else. However, we can create almost anything from oil.

    • joer4x4 profile image

      joer4x4 6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA


      "but how/why hydrocarbons are such a manipulated, political commodity"

      The answer is power, control, and money. The question as where it comes from is important. So long as the American public believes oil and gas is a limited resource, it is no doubt a good excuse to keep the price high mostly with government regulation and taxes. It also serves as a plaform to force the population to use alternative that are more costly and not yet ready.

    • joer4x4 profile image

      joer4x4 6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Thanks for your comment - it obviously carries a lot of weight.!

    • profile image

      Larry Wall 6 years ago

      Excellent hub. I worked for an oil and gas trade association for 22 years and had to deal with many of the same questions you raised. The biggest problem facing oil today is the politics that get involved in everyday operations.

    • profile image

      Sherrie Todd-Beshore 6 years ago

      Oil is one product, but natural gas is another. So don't confuse the source of one commodity with the source of a second. [Shoes and blue-jeans are both classified as clothing but their source is completely different.] And yes there was vast, lush vegetation on Earth at one time with abundant [now extinct] wildlife that all sucumbed within days. [Asteroids, earthquakes and volcanic erruptions will do that. There was once an extensive topical coastline that we now know as The Rocky Mountains. It stretched from Alberta, Canada to New Mexico.] The [younger] peat bogs in the UK provided cheap fuel for generations - all decomposing vegetation. What you should be questioning is not 'how' either oil or gas got to where they got to - but how/why hydrocarbons are such a manipulated, political commodity.

    • profile image

      Bill P 6 years ago

      I am trying to understand how a "world wide" (effective) rain forest would behave any differently than, say, the Amazon rain forest. There you find the organic rich soil only from one inch to a foot in depth. In reality, when plants die and their matter decomposes, the matter is re-introduced into the plant life cycle. There is no accumulation such as would be suggested as needed to create massive amounts of oil. Further, any encroaching deserts, like the Sahara for example, turn any residual organic material into dust. No accumulation there. The theory of "sudden and massive encapsulation" (hundreds of feet to miles thick?) of all organic material (again only no more than a foot thick) would have required such a catastrophic event involving worldwide distribution of unfathomable earthen material that it is simply not credible. Really, more important is the discovery of naturally occurring, abiotic hydrocarbons on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. Preserving the fantasy of “fossil” based oil is simply holding onto traditions and myths. Or it has a more nefarious intent to preserve control over people’s behavior. Whatever happened to pure science?

    • joer4x4 profile image

      joer4x4 6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      The question that needs answering is how did it all get thousands of feet deep below bedrock?

      Thanks for the comment!

    • profile image

      Lol 6 years ago

      We've been able to make wood into dihydrogen and carbon monoxide since the thirties; you just heat it up in absence of air, and once it's put under pressure it begins to combine into hydrocarbons and water... I know that methane is used in this method today (that we take natural gas and turn it into liquid fuel) but it makes more sense that the trillions of pounds of algae and swamp material that have grown over a period of millions of years (just looks at the yards of ooze that lie across our oceans today) could be turned into fuel (not to mention that many molecuels in coal have similar structres to organic, once living molecules like lignin, even having di-sulphide bridges present in many protiens) as opposed to an unknown and probably non-present abiotic methane source that has never been discovered... Its true methane is found all over the world in our oceans, but rotting ooze of organic matter several feet thick blankets 60% of our planet

    • bulkdive profile image

      bulkdive 6 years ago from Marina, Ca

      The wells that Fortune plans to open are not refilling. They are accessing oil that was previously left because it was not economically viable. Technology has made it economically viable to get this oil recently.

      After procuring three dozen Texas wells, Fortune hopes to produce 200 barrels a day by the end of the year. In contrast, Saudi Arabia is currently producing 8.7 million barrels a day. To me at least, this is a good sign of desperation, ie. the easy oil is gone.

      Thanks again for the opportunity for discussion.

    • bulkdive profile image

      bulkdive 6 years ago from Marina, Ca

      Point taken about Gore. I wish that he wasn't so identified with this issue. However, the same point can be made about the protection of the oil industry by people like Sen. Ted Stevens who refused to allow for the swearing in of the major oil execs during Senate hearings, while accepting campaign contributions and home rennovations from the same people.

      What I am getting at is that common folks like us have our judgements clouded by the corruption of both sides. That is why I advocate getting to the bottom of the science without a letting political agenda get in the way.

      My elementary understanding of abiotic oil is that any extraction process would require an extraordinary amount of money and time to develop the technology, because deposits can't currently be located. Other than a few scientists (most of whom advocated this theory before a modern paleontological model was developed) an abiotic model is not widely accepted. However, there has been countless scientific study throughout history that was deemed inaccurate and even downright dishonest until proven to be accurate years later.

      From what I have been able to determine about Vladimir Kutcherov, he is closely tied to the Russian State University of Oil and Gas as well as Flotten AB which, in part, is connected to oil and gas exploration. Which brings up my final point. When looking at the science involved in energy (or any) issues, look at who is doing the funding or conducting the research. If Shell Oil produces a study claiming that oil will be abundant for 1000 years; you should be dubious and, conversely, if the study is produced by the House Sub-Comittee on "Granola-Only" Living; it should probably be promptly ignored.


    • profile image

      DimDumSimSum 6 years ago

      Oil is not just from dinosaurs. It's an accumulation of every dead organism that's ever been captured by the earth and pressurized for millions of years. The surface of the earth is always being recycled, and part of that recycling process traps dead organisms. Somethings never get pulled all the way under, but over the 3.5 billion years of life on Earth, a lot of things have died and accumulated as oil. It's really not that crazy or complicated.

      The abiotic origins of oil hypothesis has been disproved time and again, and its biggest weakness is its inability to predict where oil wells should be found. The biotic origins of oil hypothesis *does* explain how oil is formed and is extremely useful in determining where oil wells can be found.

      If oil is formed abiotically, the process is completely unknown and unpredictable with our current knowledge. However, the most reasonable position is to accept the hypothesis that both makes sense and has predictive value: that oil comes from previously living things. To discredit the hypothesis simply because you don't understand it shows nothing but willful ignorance.

    • joer4x4 profile image

      joer4x4 6 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Since I written this article Vladimir Kutcherov, a professor at the Division of Energy Technology at KTH and two colleagues have proven in the lab that abiotic oil is real, exists, and is a normal process of the earth.

      It should be noted that no scientist has been able to duplicate any fossil fuel theory or chemical process in the lab. Nor does anyone have a clue of how many dinos it takes to make up 1 barrel of oil.

      It is now well known that oil emulates further below where dinos, forest, or algae are found.

      Fortune oil and gas will reopen 6 old bone dry wells in Texas this year.

      We differ on the Al Gore bit. When a political figure owns a billion dollar carbon credit company and goes around crying global warming and edging on government to pass laws to benefit his own company something is not right. That is called many things like politics and corruption.

    • bulkdive profile image

      bulkdive 6 years ago from Marina, Ca

      I appreciate that you are trying to make sense of this issue and not simply accepting what you are told. However, the dots do not connect because you are making some assumption that are not entirely accurate. Much of our fossil fuels had their start in the Carboniferous Period which runs from about 2.5 million to about 360 million years ago. During that time, much of the world, a huge amount of the world was covered in rain forest. During the Carboniferous, there was a mass extinction event triggered by a naturally occuring change in the climate. A large portion of marine life died out including very small, pin head sized creatures called Diatoms. They and their cousins, Radiolarians create thick layers of their skeletons when they die. Britain's White Cliffs of Dover are made up of critters like these. When a mass extinction takes places, these things settle into under sea canyons, they are carried by currents into eddies and are washed up on shores in different places. Then, you are right, under proper conditions with the right amount of pressure they can turn into our fossil fuels.

      On land, this event is refered to as the Carboniferous Rainforest Collapse. It is predominantly plant material that died to form oil in areas that were then land. Now, this plant material didn't just lay where it fell and turn into oil either. It decayed. It was moved by rains. It came to settle in low lying areas in bogs, marshes, lakes and inland seas. As more material covered it, again you are right, it was compressed, heated and eventually became our fossil fuels.

      As far as distribution of fossil fuels is concerned. First, look at the initial distribution of the material that created our fuels. Then as now, not everything is found evenly distributed throughout the world. Sequoias live in one place. Elephants live in another. Secondly, then as now, the climatic changes affected things differently in different places, thus the severity of the mass extinction differs from place to place. Thirdly, as I mentioned before, things don't stay put when the die and decompose. Wind, rain, currents and animals move thing around and they tend to collect in specific areas. Most importantly, we're talking tens and hundreds of millions of years that have passed. The continents have moved, faulting and folding has occurred, magma has risen forming plutons and batholiths that squeeze, capture and release different deposits, moving them around. Finally, much of this material moves through porous layers of rock, settling on denser layers. The very geology that allows us to find oil and coal deposits explains why it is not evenly distributed in one layer.

      So, this image that we all got in elementary school of T Rex dying and turning into oil is far from accurate. I was told the same thing. It is huge amounts of plant and marine material that died in a relatively short amount of

      time that makes up our fossil fuels not big ole dinosaurs.

      Sure oil is renewable. It only requires a world covered with the most organic material in history, a dramatic change in climate, a mass extinction and about 150 million years.

      But, it is no wonder the dots are hard to connect. Our teachers didn't really understand this material and science didn't understand it as well then either. However, because it is hard to understand, is a good reason to try and understand it. Al Gore is not the issue and time spent worrying about politicians and celebrities is time that would be better spent getting to know what is really going on, not what Al or Rush or Glen are telling us is going on.

    • Jed Fisher profile image

      Jed Fisher 7 years ago from Oklahoma

      I'm still trying to figure out, when a 55 gallon barrel of oil was $7, gas was $1. Now a 40 gallon barrel of oil is $100, and gas is $3. These are strange times in which we live.

    • profile image

      Chip 8 years ago

      The next Big fleecing of the world has begun. Carbon Credits and cap & trade.


      NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – A blazing oil rig sank Thursday into the Gulf of Mexico, sparking fears of an environmental disaster two days after a massive blast that left 11 workers missing.

      Officials said the current spill had the potential to be the worst seen in the United States since the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill, considered one of the worst man-made environmental disasters.

      Transocean confirmed late Thursday that it had not been possible "to stem the flow of hydrocarbons prior to the rig sinking," raising fears that thousands more gallons of crude will pollute the Gulf waters before the flow is contained.

      Mystery in the Gulf

      In 1973 oil was discovered in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 80 miles south of Louisiana known as Eugene Island 330. Producing 15,000 barrels per day, it was thought the well had seen better days when in 1989 its output dropped to 4,000 barrels per day. In 1990 the production of the well increased to about 13,000 barrels daily and has held steady. Although its output has slightly dropped it still refuses to run dry.

      Unlimited oil supplies equals price drop. A catastrophe such as this rig sinking will keep prices high without stopping the newly granted leases and drilling rights granted on the east coast of the U.S. This maintains the oil companies tight grip on the "easy" accessible oil to hold it for when prices are high.


    • profile image

      Unimportant 8 years ago

      You should look into abiogenic oil theory. It makes loads more sense.

    • Place Kick profile image

      Place Kick 8 years ago from North Carolina

      Al Gore comes to mind with his nonsense when it comes to energy. I would like to see all types of energy productions not just Obama's so called green ones! I enjoyed reading your hub.

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 9 years ago from UK

      I'm very intrigued by your hub, as I've always believed oil to be a renewable resource of sorts. After all, even if oil were to have been created by overlayering of rotting vegetation, well, vegetation still rots doesn't it? But following that same logic, I could also see that there is less and less vegetation available to rot.

      If, as you suggest, there is an alternative explanation for the creation of oil under the earth's crust, then I can see that Peak Oil, if not exactly the whole truth, is less of a short -term threat than we've all imagined.

      However, there are still problems, even with your Hydrocarbons under pressure theory, as we still have no control over the quantity that is available for production. How much methane is down there? How can we guarantee that it will convert to oil? There are so many variables.

      At the risk of sitting on the fence on this one, I would like to see alternative strategies for energy production to continue apace, as it's never a good plan to have all one's  eggs in one basket. Even if CO2 emissions are not causing global warming, solar and wind powered energy provisions are less polluting than the traditional carbon based alternatives.

      Like you, however, I would like to understand more about where oil really comes from, rather than a straight regurgitation of the apparently erroneous stories that we were all spoon fed at school 30 odd years ago.