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     Sep 27, 2007
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Russia is far from oil's peak
By F William Engdahl

The good news is that panic scenarios about the world running out of oil any time soon are wrong. The bad news is that the price of oil is going to continue to rise. "Peak Oil" is not our problem. Politics is. Big Oil wants to sustain high oil prices. US Vice President Dick Cheney and friends are all too willing to assist.

On a personal note, I've researched questions of petroleum since the first oil shocks of the 1970s. I was intrigued in 2003 with something called the Peak Oil theory. It seemed to explain the

otherwise inexplicable decision by Washington to risk all in a military move on Iraq.

Peak Oil advocates, led by former BP geologist Colin Campbell and Texas banker Matt Simmons, argued that the world faced a new crisis, an end to cheap oil, or Absolute Peak Oil, perhaps by 2012, perhaps by 2007. Oil was supposedly on its last drops. They pointed to soaring gasoline and oil prices and to the declines in output of the North Sea, Alaska and other fields as proof they were right.

According to Campbell, the fact that no new North Sea-size fields had been discovered since the North Sea in the late 1960s was proof. He reportedly managed to convince the International Energy Agency and the Swedish government. That, however, does not prove him correct.

Intellectual fossils?
The Peak Oil school rests its theory on conventional Western geology textbooks, most by American or British geologists, which claim oil is a "fossil fuel", a biological residue or detritus of either fossilized dinosaur remains or perhaps algae, hence a product in finite supply. Biological origin is central to Peak Oil theory, used to explain why oil is only found in certain parts of the world where it was geologically trapped millions of years ago.

That would mean that dinosaur remains became compressed and over tens of millions of years fossilized and were trapped in underground reservoirs perhaps 1,200-2,000 meters below the surface of the Earth. In rare cases, so goes the theory, huge amounts of biological matter should have been trapped in rock formations in the shallower ocean regions such as in the Gulf of Mexico or North Sea or Gulf of Guinea. Geology should be only about figuring out where these pockets in the layers of the earth, called reservoirs, lie within certain sedimentary basins.

An entirely alternative theory of oil formation has existed since the early 1950s in Russia, almost unknown to the West. It claims that the conventional US biological-origins theory is an unscientific absurdity that is unprovable. They point to the fact that Western geologists have repeatedly predicted finite oil over the past century, only then to find more, lots more.

Not only has this alternative explanation of the origins of oil and gas existed in theory, the emergence of Russia as the world's largest oil and natural-gas producer has been based on the application of the theory in practice. This has geopolitical consequences of staggering magnitude.

Necessity the mother of invention
In the 1950s, the Soviet Union faced "Iron Curtain" isolation from the West. The Cold War was in high gear. Russia had little oil to fuel its economy. Finding sufficient oil indigenously was a national-security priority of the highest order.

Scientists at the Institute of the Physics of the Earth of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Geological Sciences of the Ukraine Academy of Sciences began a fundamental inquiry in the late 1940s: Where does oil come from?
In 1956, Professor Vladimir Porfir'yev announced their conclusions: "Crude oil and natural petroleum gas have no intrinsic connection with biological matter originating near the surface of the Earth. They are primordial materials which have been erupted from great depths."

The Soviet geologists had turned Western orthodox geology on its head. They called their theory of oil origin the "abiotic" theory - non-biological - to distinguish it from the Western biological theory of origins.

If they were right, oil supply on Earth would be limited only by the amount of organic hydrocarbon constituents present deep in the Earth at the time of the planet's formation. Availability of oil would depend only on technology to drill ultra-deep wells and explore into the Earth's inner regions. They also realized that old fields could be revived to continue producing, so-called self-replenishing fields. They argued that oil is formed deep in the Earth, formed in conditions of very high temperature and very high pressure, like that required for diamonds to form.

"Oil is a primordial material of deep origin which is transported at high pressure via 'cold' eruptive processes into the crust of the Earth," Porfir'yev stated. His team dismissed the idea that oil is is biological residue of plant and animal fossil remains as a hoax designed to perpetuate the myth of limited supply.

Defying conventional geology
The radically different Russian and Ukrainian scientific approach to the discovery of oil allowed the USSR to develop huge gas and oil discoveries in regions previously judged unsuitable, according to Western geological exploration theories, for the presence of oil. The new petroleum theory was used in the early 1990s, well after the dissolution of the USSR, to drill for oil and gas in a region believed for more than 45 years to be geologically barren - the Dnieper-Donets Basin in the region between Russia and Ukraine.

Following their abiotic or non-fossil theory of the deep origins of petroleum, the Russian and Ukrainian petroleum geophysicists and chemists began with a detailed analysis of the tectonic history and geological structure of the crystalline basement of the Dnieper-Donets Basin. After a tectonic and deep structural analysis of the area, they made geophysical and geochemical investigations.

A total of 61 wells were drilled, of which 37 were commercially productive, an extremely impressive exploration success rate of almost 60%. The size of the field discovered compared to the North Slope of Alaska. By contrast, US wildcat drilling was considered to have a 10% success rate. Nine of 10 wells are typically "dry holes".

That Russian geophysics experience in finding oil and gas was tightly wrapped in the usual Soviet veil of state security during the Cold War era, and was largely unknown to Western geophysicists, who continued to teach fossil origins and, hence, the severe physical limits of petroleum. But slowly it begin to dawn on some strategists in and around the Pentagon well after 

Continued 1 2 

A peek at the peak oil problem (Sep 19, '07)

The wars that oil the Pentagon's engine (Jun 16, '07)

1. 'Hitler' does New York

2. Military brains plot Pakistan's downfall

3. Russia bolsters ties with Iran

4. The Gotterdammerung of central banking

5. Iran, Israel ratchet up tensions

6. National extinction and natural law

7. The making of Vietnam's oil giant

8. Inflation eats into China's mooncakes

9. Silver and gold salvation

(24 hours to 11:59 pm ET, Sep 25, 2007)


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