Click here to view CMI's position on climate change.
This article is from
Creation 32(2):56, April 2010

Browse our latest digital issue Subscribe

Oil not always a ‘fossil fuel’


iStockphoto/sculpiesOil rig

It is well known that oil can form from buried animal matter, and that coal (which is buried vegetation) is in some instances being turned into oil underground. For some time now, a number of researchers have speculated that oil can also form from non-living sources, such as methane from deep in the earth. E.g. Cornell University’s Dr Thomas Gold (1920–2004) argued that oil is a “renewable primordial soup continually manufactured by the earth under ultrahot conditions and tremendous pressures. As this substance migrates toward the surface, it is attacked by bacteria, making it appear to have an organic origin dating back to the dinosaurs.”1

Crude oil and natural gas [can in many instances be] generated without the involvement of fossils—Vladimir Kutcherov, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

Vladimir Kutcherov, of Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, says that his research team has now conclusively demonstrated that “crude oil and natural gas are generated without the involvement of fossils.”2 The researchers simulated the environment deep underground in order to show how such organic substances would be generated from non-organic minerals by heat and pressure.3

The controversial research has huge potential implications. For one thing, it neutralizes the challenge from the Bible’s critics that there could not have been enough creatures alive on Earth at the time of Noah’s Flood to explain all the oil and gas.

It confronts the idea that we are running out of oil.

It also confronts the idea that we are running out of oil, suggesting instead that by drilling deeper and in different host rocks, much more oil will be found.

The year before this announcement, Kutcherov pointed out that there were some oil fields, such as in Vietnam, pumping the black gold from rocks such as granite.4 If oil forms only from buried creatures, the host rocks should be sedimentary (laid down by water), not igneous like granite.

References and notes

  1. As we’ve previously reported in: Gushing oil surprise, Creation 27(3):9, 2005. Return to text.
  2. Fossils from animals and plants are not necessary for crude oil and natural gas, Swedish researchers find, Science Daily, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090910084259.htm, 12 September 2009. Return to text.
  3. Kolesnikov, A., Kutcherov, V. and Goncharov, A., Methane-derived hydrocarbons produced under upper-mantle conditions, Nature Geoscience 2(8):566–570, 2009. Return to text.
  4. Langreth, R., Endless oil?—Radical Russian researchers say we are looking for oil in all the wrong places, Forbes.com, www.forbes.com/2008/11/13/abiotic-oil-supply-energenius08-biz-cz_rl_1113abiotic.html, 13 November 2008. Return to text.

Readers’ comments

Michael F.
The title of this article says it all. "Oil is not always a fossil fuel", although most of the oil we consume is. Yes, it is true that there is Abiogenic oil, aka oil that does not come from fossil fuels, but that doesn't mean that the vast majority of oil we consume is Abiogenic. The Abiogenic oil hypothesis fell out of favor at the end of the 20th century because it never made any useful prediction for the discovery of oil deposits.
Carl Wieland
Thanks, though note that the article made no claim that the vast majority (or even the majority) is abiogenic. But I suggest that Cornell's Thomas Gold might dispute (or rather, have disputed, while he was alive) your claim that it never gave rise to a useful prediction of oil deposits; though apart from the Vietnamese ones, you may well be right if one specifies 'economically significant' deposits.

Comments are automatically closed 14 days after publication.