Early this month I wrote a column entitled Oil Reserves Are Increasing. It was based on the recent history of the Eugene Island platform, which started up in the 70’s delivering 15,000 barrels of oil a day. Then it followed the normal life of an oil well until the 80’s when, having given every appearance of having run dry it reversed itself and returned nearly to its original production volume. That in itself might not be controversial but my statement "that this leads to speculation that the world has limitless supplies of oil" generated quite a reaction. My positions were characterized as "irresponsible fairy tales." There may have been errors in my statistics and if so I apologize for them, but they do not change the argument.
Since I had taken some of my information from Thomas Gold and his book The Deep Hot Biosphere, I thought to defend myself with a brief history of his theory that most petroleum or the material from which it is formed was primordial, that is it was created deep inside the earth when the earth was formed 4.5 billion years ago. Then I discovered that the theory might not have originated with him. He was one of the few Western scientists who could read Russian. And he discovered that Soviet scientists were familiar with theory and were using it to develop wells. It was actually quite old, but had been totally ignored by Western scientists until Gold showed some interest. Many peer reviewed papers and discussions of the theory by scientists of several disciplines were available but all in Russian. Gold was the only man in the West with the necessary scientific background who could read them.
In 1946 Stalin, one of the leading killers of all time but no fool, recognized that Soviet Russia was short of oil, particularly if he was going to successfully wage war on the world. At that time the Baku fields in Russia were running dry and most Soviet territory appeared to not contain oil. His assignment to his scientific community was to learn all that was possible about petroleum and its origins. "By 1951, what has been called the modern Russian — Ukrainian Theory Of Deep Abiotic Petroleum Origins" was born (maybe born again would be more accurate), and debated, studied and peer reviewed for twenty years, all in Russian of course, and completely ignored by the West.
It has long since been much more than a theory and for twenty years Russian drillers have successfully brought in super deep wells using it. The deepest exploratory hole went to 40,000 feet. Russia, once regarded as having little potential, is now, along with ourselves and Saudi Arabia one of the top three oil producers in the world. There are more than 80 oil and gas fields in the Caspian district, all producing from crystalline basement rock. 90 petroleum fields have been developed in western Siberia. "11 major and one giant field have been developed in the Dnieper-Donets basin;" there are 20 wells in Viet Nam producing at 17,000 feet in areas that Western experts considered not worth exploring.
This might seem of little import, were it not for the fact that many people insist that much of the world will shortly be out of oil (a true irresponsible fairy tale), which will make it necessary for countries to seize oil fields. The world is not running out of oil and typically anyone owning an oil field is interested in finding a market for its product.
George Crispin [send him mail] is a retired businessman who heads a Catholic homeschooling cooperative in Auburn, Alabama.