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A response from Dale Pfeiffer (apparently originating from Jean Laherrere)

IIASA-IEW June 19, 2001
-Comments by Jean Laherrere on the « theory of abiogenic origin of oil
and gas »
presented by Vladilen A. Krayushkin

-1-Examples of abiogenic fields in the Dnieper-Donets basin
From Kenney 1996 (http://www.csun.edu/~vcgeo005/Energy.html) :
<<Professor Vladilen A. Krayushkin, Chairman of the Department of
Petroleum Exploration, Institute of Geological Sciences, Ukrainian
Academy of Sciences, Kiev, and leader of the project for the exploration
of the northern flank of the Dni eper-Donets Basin, at the VII-th
International Symposium on the Observation of the Continental Crust
Through Drilling, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1994.
"The eleven major and one giant oil and gas fields here described have
been discovered in a region which had, forty years ago, been condemned as
possessing no potential for petroleum production. The exploration for
these fie lds was conducted entirely according to the perspective of the
modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of abyssal, abiotic petroleum origins.
The drilling which resulted in these discoveries was extended purposely
deep into the crystalline basement rock, and it is in that basement where
the greatest part of the reserves exist. These reserves amount to at
least 8,200 M metric tons of recoverable oil and 100 B cubic meters of
recoverable gas, and are thereby comparable to those of the North Slope
of Alaska. It is conservatively estimated that, when developed, these
fields will provide approximately thirty percent of the energy needs of
the industrial nation of Ukraine."<<
Kenney seems to report wrong figures. 8.2 Gt oil & 100 G.m3 gas represent
60 Gb and 2 Tcf ! The real data are quite different.
USGS 1997-463 « Ranking of the world’s oil and gas provinces by known
petroleum volumes » gives:
rank oil Gb
gas Tcf condensate Gb Mboe
Northern Alaska 24 14.4 33
1.1 21
Dnieper-Donets 45 1.4 59
0.2 11.7

USGS « World petroleum assessment 2000 »

Dnieper-Donets Basin
Rank Province63
Code 1009
Major CommodityGas
Cumulative Oil Gb0.11
Remaining Oil Gb1.501
Known Oil Gb mean1.611
Undiscovered oil Gb1.098
Oil Endowment Gb2.7
Oil discovery maturity %59
Undiscovered gas Tcf24
Undiscovered condensate Gb0.9

USGS PROVINCE: Dnieper-Donets Basin (1009) GEOLOGIST: G.F. Ulmishek
TOTAL PETROLEUM SYSTEM: Dnieper-Donets Paleozoic (100901)
ASSESSMENT UNIT: Carboniferous-Lower Permian Clastics (10090101)
DESCRIPTION: Assessment unit encompasses rocks of the postrift sag
(Carboniferous-Lower Permian), and platform (Triassic-Tertiary) sequences
over the entire basin area. The unit contains large hydrocarbon (mainly
gas) reserves in more than 200 discovered fields.
SOURCE ROCKS: Two identified oil families demonstrate the presence of at
least two source rock suites in the Upper Devonian and Lower
Carboniferous sections. The latter are Visean organic-rich black shales
and marls; Devonian source rocks occur deep and have not been penetrated
by wells.
MATURATION: Source rocks are mature in the marginal areas and overmature
most of the basin. Maximum maturation was mainly reached by Late Permian
time, but could
have continued through early Mesozoic in the central part of the basin.
MIGRATION: Migration could have started as early as Early Carboniferous
time, but an important stage of gas migration took place after deposition
of Lower Permian salt.
RESERVOIR ROCKS: Carboniferous-Lower Permian sandstones contain almost
all reserves. Most of undiscovered resources are expected in Lower
Carboniferous rocks.
TRAPS: Structural traps are related either to plastic flow of Devonian
salt (in deep areas) or to basement fault blocks (on basin margins).
Stratigraphic traps are underexplored.
SEALS: Lower Permian salt directly seals reservoirs that contain more
than half of reserves.
Other seals are Carboniferous intraformational shales.
Gavrish, V.K., ed., 1989, Geology and petroleum productivity of the
basin—Deep framework and geotectonic development (Geologiya i
Dneprovo-Donetskoy vpadiny. Glubinnoye stroeniye i geotektonicheskoye
razvitiye): Kiev,
Naukova Dumka, 204 p.
Shpak, P.F., ed., 1989, Geology and petroleum productivity of the
Dnieper-Donets basin—
Petroleum productivity (Geologiya i neftegazonosnost Dneprovo-Donetskoy
Neftegazonosnost): Kiev, Naukova Dumka, 204 p.
Ulmishek, G.F., Bogino, V.A., Keller, M.B., and Poznyakevich, Z.L., 1994,
stratigraphy, and petroleum geology of the Pripyat and Dnieper-Donets
basins, in Byelarus
and Ukraine, in Landon, S.M., ed., Interior rift basins: American
Association of Petroleum
Geologists Memoir 59, p. 125-156.

USGS PROVINCE: Dnieper-Donets Basin (1009) GEOLOGIST: G.F. Ulmishek
TOTAL PETROLEUM SYSTEM: Dnieper-Donets Paleozoic (100901)
ASSESSMENT UNIT: Devonian Synrift (10090102)
DESCRIPTION: Assessment unit includes poorly known Devonian rocks. No
fields have been discovered although many oil and gas shows have been
detected. The unit occurs at drillable depths only along basin margins.
Resource assessment is based on analogy with the adjacent Pripyat basin.
SOURCE ROCKS: Oils derived from source rocks within the Devonian section
are known in stratigraphically overlying assessment unit 10090101. These
source rocks are probably similar to organic-rich marine anoxic shales of
the Pripyat basin.
MATURATION: Source rocks are probably in the oil window along the basin
margins and
rapidly dip into the gas window zone basinward.
RESERVOIR ROCKS: Carbonate reservoir rocks including reefs are principal
producers in
the Pripyat basin and are expected to contain almost all undiscovered
resources in the Dnieper-Donets basin.
TRAPS: Structural and combination traps are expected along crests of the
tilted fault blocks,
which control reef development.
SEALS: A shale formation is regionally developed at the top of the
Devonian sequence. Salt,
although deformed, may be an important seal for some prospects.
Gavrish, V.K., ed., 1989, Geology and petroleum productivity of the
basin—Deep framework and geotectonic development (Geologiya i
Dneprovo-Donetskoy vpadiny. Glubinnoye stroeniye i geotektonicheskoye
razvitiye): Kiev,
Naukova Dumka, 204 p.
Shpak, P.F., ed., 1989, Geology and petroleum productivity of the
Dnieper-Donets basin—
Petroleum productivity (Geologiya i neftegazonosnost Dneprovo-Donetskoy
Neftegazonosnost): Kiev, Naukova Dumka, 204 p.
Ulmishek, G.F., Bogino, V.A., Keller, M.B., and Poznyakevich, Z.L., 1994,
stratigraphy, and petroleum geology of the Pripyat and Dnieper-Donets
basins, Byelarus
and Ukraine, in Landon, S.M., ed., Interior rift basins: American
Association of Petroleum
Geologists Memoir 59, p. 125-156.

USGS PROVINCE: Dnieper-Donets Basin (1009) GEOLOGIST: G.F. Ulmishek
TOTAL PETROLEUM SYSTEM: Dnieper-Donets Paleozoic (100901)
ASSESSMENT UNIT: Continuous Basin-Centered Gas Accumulation (10090103)
DESCRIPTION: Continuous gas accumulation has been identified in
Carboniferous clastic
rocks at depths of 3.5 to 5 km over most of the central basin area. The
accumulation extends into the adjacent Donbas foldbelt (USGS province
1014) where it occurs at a depth of 600 to 800 m. No quantitative
assessment of this unit is provided in this report.
SOURCE ROCKS: Devonian and Carboniferous anoxic black shales and
Carboniferous coaly clastics and coal seams (in the southeast) could have
sourced the gas.
MATURATION: The entire gas accumulation occurs deeper than vitrinite
reflectance surface of Ro=0.9.
RESERVOIR ROCKS: Reservoir rocks are low-permeable sandstones and
siltstones. Loss of permeability was caused by deep maximum subsidence.
TRAPS: Capillary forces provide the trapping mechanism.
SEALS: No regional seal exists above the gas accumulation.
Law, B.E., Ulmishek, G.F., Clayton, J.L., Kabyshev, B.P., Pashova, N.T.,
Krivosheya, V.A., 1998, Basin-centered gas evaluated in Dnieper-Donets
basin, Donbas
foldbelt, Ukraine: Oil and Gas Journal, November 23, p. 74-78.
Ulmishek, G.F., Bogino, V.A., Keller, M.B., and Poznyakevich, Z.L., 1994,
stratigraphy, and petroleum geology of the Pripyat and Dnieper-Donets
basins, Byelarus and
Ukraine, in Landon, S.M., ed., Interior rift basins: American Association
of Petroleum
Geologists Memoir 59, p. 125-156.<<
No a word on basement reservoir fields. There is no doubt about the
organic origin of the oil and gas.

From more recent data, there are 185 oil & gas fields in the
Dnipro-Donets basin with a total discovered of 1.4 Gb oil, 67 Tcf gas and
0.5 Gb condensate.
List of 4 giant and 15 major oil and gas fields in Dnipro-Donets basin by
decreasing size
Dnipro-Donets :
major oil & gas fields (>100 Mboe)HC TypeNumber of ReservoirsDiscovery
Khrestyshchi ZakhidnyGas,condensate11968
Hlyns'k-Rozbyshiv (Group of Fields)Oil,gas,cond21958
Talalaivka (Group of Fields)Oil,gas,cond21971
Yablunivka Gas,oil41976

On the second largest gasfield ( Khrestyshchi-Zakhidny), the gas
production does not show any sign of refilling from the « abiotic »
The annual production display a natural decline with time and with
cumulative production/ The ultimate estimate from decline is 10 Tcf when
the reported value is 11.6 Tcf.
-2- Fractured basement reservoirs
Tony Batchelor Geoscience Limited in a paper Nov 2000
« Hydrocarbon production from fractured basement formations » lists all
the fields with hydrocarbons in basement reservoirs. But he quoted the
origin as :
<<Source of oil in basement rocks?
There are many possible sources for the oil accumulations in basement
reservoirs, however,
three sources are referenced most commonly:
1) Overlying organic rock from which the oil was expelled downward during
2) Lateral, off-the-basement but topographically lower, organic rock from
which oil was
squeezed into an underlying carrier bed through which it migrated updip
into the
basement rock.
3) Lower, lateral reservoirs from which earlier trapped oil was spilled
due to tilting or
overfilling (Landes et al, 1960).<<
Many fields are listed in many countries, and for Russia :
Former Soviet Union Countries
There are said to be numerous fields in the FSU producing from fractured
basement reservoirs (Kenny, 1996), but very little detail has been
published in the West. Kenny (1996) states that more wells have been
drilled into crystalline basements within the FSU than all other nations
combined with the consequence of greater production. For example, the
Caspian district has a total of eighty fields producing from crystalline
basements. Unlike the majority of drilling operations which cease as soon
as basement rocks are encountered (Aguilera, 1995b), Krayushkin et al
(1994) state that all of the hydrocarbon fields within the FSU producing
from crystalline basements were developed intentionally. Published
articles from a working conference on oil in granite held in Kazan,
Tatarstan, Russia in late 1997, (see latest reference section), refer to
basement oil shows in the Chibuiuskoye, Verkhnechutinskoye and
Iskosgorinskoyeoil fields, together with the Zelenetsky, Chernorechensky,
Lekkemsky and Timansky oil productive areas. Production statistics from
individual wells or fields were not made available. One such example is
discussed by Krayushkin et al (1994) involving an exploration project on
the flanks of the Dnieper-Donets Basin. An initial geological study of
the sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks in the 'Northern
Monoclinal Flank' of the Dnieper-Donents Basin concluded that there was
no potential for hydrocarbon production. The conclusion was made because
of the absence of any source rock and the presence of active, strongly
circulating artesian waters. However, the exploration and drilling
programme which followed the initial study resulted in the discovery and
development of 12 fields with oil reserves equal to 219 million metric
tons of oil equivalent, the major part of which, according to Krayushkin
et al (1994), is produced from the PreCambrian crystalline basement.
However, this is difficult to demonstrate, partly because of multiple
completions in basement and overlying cover (Kitchka, pers. comm., 1999).
The fields were discovered in an area covering 30-35 km by 400 km where
the oil and gas bearing rocks are Middle and Carboniferous sandstones and
PreCambrian granites, amphibolites and schists of the crystalline
basement complex. The exploration programme also resulted in the
discovery of a gas field with reserves of 100 billion cubic metres. From
a total of 61 wells drilled in a corridor 35 km wide by 400 km long, 37
produced commercial quantities of hydrocarbons (an exploration success
rate of 55%). Initial flows from the productive wells varied between 40
and 350 metric tons/day of oil and 100,000-1,600,000m 3 /day of gas.
Production interval depths within the PreCambrian basement varied between
3,135 m and 4,041 m. Recently we have learnt of a new discovery in
PreCambrian basement called Goshinovskoye field (Kitchka, pers. comm.,
2000). Near Khark another corridor 30 km wide by 100 km long is
associated with 3.5 Tcf reserves (Kitchka, pers. comm., 1998) <<
I lived for several years in the 50s and 60s in Calgary exploring for oil
all around Canada and Michigan. I went to visit the site of the first oil
discovery in Western Canada called Oil City. Located on seepage on
Cameron Brook, Original Discovery n°1 found 300 b/d at 311m in 1902 in
what is now the Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. The site was
abandoned in 1907 after 7 other wells. The discovery is in the basement,
as the Lewis Thrust has pushed (100 km) over Cretaceous sediments a sheet
of very old rocks. The oil comes from the underlying sediments. North to
the Park, there are today producers at 6000 ft. Finding oil in fractured
basement is not new !

-3- Refilling oil and gas fields : Case of Eugene Island 330 oilfield
Eugene Island 330 oilfield discovered in 1971was taken by the Wall Street
Journal (Cooper Ch.1999 “ Odd Reservoir Off Louisiana Prods Oil Experts
to Seek a Deeper Meaning -Something mysterious is going on at Eugene
Island 330” April 16 http://oralchelation.com/faq/wsj4.htm) as the
example of refilling reserves to wonder about a deeper origin for oil and
to explain the huge increase in the Middle East reserves in the second
half of the 80s. This thesis was defended by a geochemist Jean Whelan in
1996, http://www.williamsinference.com/energy.html Volume 14, No. 2 -
May 1996 The estimated oil reserves of Penzoil's Eugene Island Block 330
in the Gulf of Mexico have declined much less than experts had predicted.
Dr. Jean K. Whelan of Woods Hole thinks the field may be refilling itself
naturally from hitherto undetected gas and oil reservoirs more than
30,000 feet below the surface. (NYT). Cooper claimed that the reserves
reported previously at 60 Mb now are estimated at 400 Mb after an
increase of production from 4000 b/d in 1989 to 15000 b/d.
The production in 1989 was in fact 20 000 b/d ; the low was in 1992 at 15
000 b/d and the peak in 1996 at 30 000 b/d (28 000 for OGJ and 33 000 for
MMS). The reserves were in fact estimated in 1978 by OGJ at 325 Mb (500
Mb by the famous explorer Klemme in 1977) and increased to 388 Mb in
1996, normal reserve growth with the poor US practice of reporting (SEC
rules) only the proved reserves, neglecting the probable reserves. But
MMS estimated tthe reserves at 464 Mb in 1986 and only at 416 Mb in 1998
(negative growth !).
In fact this field is reported to have been charged again now because the
depletion of pressure from the source-rock (or a deeper reservoir) by one
of largest and best studied fault (the Red Fault) in the GOM by many
university seismic studies as 4D
(http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/GBRN/anderson/4D.article.html), study
carried out to show the present migration through the fault into the
producing reservoirs..
The annual production of the field displays a strong decline, then a
minor rebound and a new decline shows only a minor refilling, very easy
to explain with a minor charge from the original .source-rock as
explained in the article « Recovering dynamic Gulf of Mexico reserves and
the U.S. energy future » Roger N. Anderson, Lamont-Doherty Earth
Observatory of Columbia University et al. Jean Whelan was a co-author.
Most of paragraphs in this article were published in the week of April
26, 1993 by OIL&GAS JOURNAL
http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/GBRN/anderson/ogj042693.html, it is written
<<The organic geochemical signature of the reservoir oils and gases are
equally persuasive that an injection event has occurred recently in the
EI 330 field. Texas A&M's Geochemical and Environmental Research Group
has conducted a four-part, Gulf of Mexico Oil Correlation Study. Phase 4
included the analyses of 33 oils from all the major reservoirs of EI 330.
Among the conclusions: the oils are biodegraded in the shallow
reservoirs; there is little biogenic gas present; and the biomarkers,
heavy metals, and sulfur isotopes indicate a carbonate marine source of
probable Cretaceous age.
Combining the maturation and fractionation evidence, the organic
geochemistry indicates the EI 330 hydrocarbons are derived from the first
gas-rich, fluid discharges from mature oils presently cracking to gas and
undergoing evaporative fractionation. The gas-saturated fluids, expelled
from deep within the sub-basins, entrain less mature oils from shallower
depths on their way up the synclinal turbidites to the distributary
network buried within the Red Fault Zone. From there, the fluids lose
their hydrocarbons preferentially to the first low pressure reservoirs
encountered in the transition above geopressure. Some water, and
accompanying methane makes it all the way to the surface, where seeps are
active along the Red Fault Zone today. Effect on U.S.
reserves Our working hypothesis for the rock mechanical behavior of the
system is that volume changes from the generation of gas produce an added
pressure increase to that of compaction within the geopressured
"kitchen." Periodically, pressures build to hydraulic fracturing
stresses. Faults like the Red Fault Zone open to release bursts of fluids
upward toward the surface. The hydrocarbons, being the most buoyant
components of the released fluids, fill the first available space in the
more weakly pressured (down-thrown side in the case of the Red Fault
Zone). Filling is in a deep-to-shallow sequence. The oils are swept with
the fluid, whereas the gases are dissolved in the fluid. Such bursting
events have occurred repeatedly during the Plio-Pleistocene evolution of
the Gulf of Mexico, and billions of barrels of as yet undiscovered
hydrocarbons must exist within the geopressured depths of the basin. To
think otherwise is illogical.<<
They see a large potential from refilling from the deeper sedimentary
reservoirs (proof with biomakers), but not from abiogenic sources in the
basement and the mantle !

« Eugene Island Block 330 Field--U.S.A. Offshore Louisiana « by David S.
Holland, John B. Leedy, David R. Lammlein (Published in AAPG Treatise of
Petroleum Geology, Atlas of Oil and Gas Feilds, Structural Traps III, p.
103-143; adapted for online presentation)
gives a good description of this field.

There are other examples of refilling fields, mainly gasfields, as
Groningen. The seal of most gasfields is not good enough (except
evaporites) to keep for a long time and most are in charge from the
source-rock. When a gasfield is depleted enough, it could be partly
refilled as Groningen giant gasfield in Netherlands from its source-rock

-4- Attempts of drilling abiogenic HC
Drilling for abiogenic gas by the astronomist Thomas Gold in the Siljan
crater in 1988 and 1991 has been failure, as methane was not found and
the rumored 80 b of recovered oil in granite is assumed to come from the
drilling mud. In Saskatchwan, in 1991 Warren Hunt has leased 9600 km2 on
Precambrian bedrock aiming to abiogenic HC in the Craswell crater (35 km
diameter and 478 Ma old). No drilling (as far as I know) has been carried
out ; as I presume that Hunt has not found anyone to invest in his ideas
after the failures in Sweden.
No one major oil and gas companies explores for abiogenic HC.
The IFP (Institute Francais du Petrole) school discards the abiogenic
theory, as there is no proof of it.

Conclusions :
The proposed proofs of evidence of abiogenic origin in the Dnieper-Donets
basin and in refilling fields are dismissed in front of real data.

The Great Oil Age
By Peter McKenzie-Brown, Gordon Jaremko and David Finch
Others advocate a new variation of inorganic theory they call abiogenic.
The best-known modern advocate of inorganic origin is Thomas Gold, an
astrophysicist at Cornell University. When explorations of space revealed
that meteorites and other planets contained hydrocarbons in the total
absence of life forms, it seemed to Gold to be strong evidence that
petroleum could have originated abiogenically on earth as well.
Gold suggested that hydrocarbons may be abundant deep within planet
Earth, and that the oil and gas already found originated at least in part
in these deep zones. To test Gold's theories, a group drilled a deep well
in the Siljan Ring - an impact crater in Sweden - and apparently found
some 80 or more barrels of oil in a granite reservoir. But results proved
inconclusive and the group began drilling a second well in 1991.
An iconoclastic Calgary geologist has developed even more radical
theories than Gold's about the formation of oil and gas in the earth.
Through a family-owned company, in 1991 Warren Hunt acquired the oil and
gas rights to 960 000 hectares of Precambrian bedrock to test his
theories. What is remarkable about this exploration play is that,
according to conventional geology, he has acquired exploration rights in
a geological region which could not possibly contain oil or gas.
In Hunt's two books - Environment of Violence and Expanding Geospheres, -
he proposes theories which, if proved, will fundamentally alter the
geosciences. One test of his thinking is the exploration play in northern
Alberta, which assumes that the Alberta oil sands had a deep-earth
In Hunt's view, Earth's core contains vast amounts of hydrogen which can
sometimes migrate toward the surface. Deep within Earth's mantle, it may
react with silicon carbide to form gaseous hydrocarbons and silane gas.
When disturbed, these brews move up to the underside of the earth's
brittle granite crust. There, the silane can react with water to form
silica sand. The slurry of sand, water and hydrocarbons is lighter than
the granite above, creating instability.
Hunt believes the granite ruptured through what he refers to as the
Carswell Gastrobleme, a 37-kilometre wide crater in northwestern
Saskatchewan. Silica erupted violently, then oozed eastward from this
conduit. Over time, 50 000 cubic kilometres of sand wound up sitting in a
granite bowl across northwestern Saskatchewan - a phenomenon Hunt claims
has never been explained geologically.19
He speculates that the shifting granite eventually resealed the Carswell
rupture, trapping hydrocarbon-rich silica sand layers under Alberta's oil
sands. His exploration play is based on the notion that only some of that
oil rose to the surface to be degraded into today's oil sands. Hunt
suggests that a great deal of conventional oil - perhaps hundreds of
billions of barrels - could still be present in reservoirs west of the
Carswell rupture - under the oil sands. If they exist, those reservoirs
would have been formed by fractures in the granite which filled first
with sand, then with abiogenic oil and gas.

In 1901, John Lineham of Okotoks, Alberta, organized the Rocky Mountain
Drilling Company and in 1902 drilled the first exploration well in
Alberta on the site of these seepages. Now part of Waterton Lakes
National Park, the Historic Sites and Monuments marker commemorates the
discovery well and Oil City, the boom town which sprang up briefly in the
area. The discovery well briefly produced up to 350 barrels of oil per
day, but neither this well nor seven later exploration attempts resulted
in steady production. Perhaps the greatest contribution of the Oil City
play came about when the Western Oil and Coal Company drilled there and
collected 256 rock samples at different depths which they examined for
traces of oil. This method of systematic sampling set a precedent that
drillers now routinely follow.