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Experimental Confirmation of Mineral Genesis of the Oil


Confirmation of a Possibility of Non-Organic Synthesis of Hydrocarbon Systems in the Upper Mantle of the Earth, Determination of Thermodynamic Parameters of the Synthesis and Migration Conditions of Abyssal Petroleum to the Earth Surface

Tech Area / Field

  • OBS-NAT/Natural Resources and Earth Sciences/Other Basic Sciences

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Russian State University of Oil and Gas, Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • Institute for High Pressure Physics, Russia, Moscow reg., Troitsk


  • Gas Resources Corporation, USA, TX, Houston\nFlotten AB, Sweden, Kista

Project summary

The goal of the project is to get reliable experimental data confirming the possibility of non-organic synthesis of complex hydrocarbon systems at the depths corresponding to depths of the upper mantle of the Earth; determination of thermodynamic conditions of the synthesis and migration conditions of the abyssal oil from a depth to the surface of the Earth.

The hypothesis of mineral genesis of oil was coexisting together with the hypothesis of organic genesis in Petroleum Science during more that one and a half century. The greatest scientists such as M.Lomonosov, von Humbolt, Guy-Lussac, D.Mendeleev, P.Berthelot and N.Kudriavtsev took part in discussions dealing with genesis of oil. Together with others researchers they have brought a lot of brilliant ideas and new approaches but nobody could get experimental confirmation of the possibility of abyssal synthesis of oil. At the same time an experimental confirmation of the possibility of the oil synthesis deeply in the Earth will help us to apply a new approach to methods for petroleum exploration, oilfields formation and the world crude oil resources.

For non-organic synthesis of complex hydrocarbon systems the following conditions are necessary: corresponding temperature and pressure, donators of carbon and hydrogen and a favorable restoring environment. Some theoretical calculations based on methods of modern thermodynamics show us that a polymerization of hydrocarbons could take place at the temperature 900-17000C and at the pressure 2.5-5.0 GPa. These conditions could take place deeply in the Earth at the depths of 100-200 km.

There is only one known donator of carbon in the upper mantle. It is carbon dioxide. Water is only one possible source of hydrogen on that depth. Favorable restoring conditions could be created due to a presence of sufficient amount of FeO. According to modern science the upper mantle contains 0.5% mass. of carbon dioxide, 6-7% mass. of water and up to 9% of FeO.

Thus, a hydrocarbon synthesis could take place in the main and ultra-main rocks of the upper mantle with a presence of FeO, donators of carbon dioxide and water. The experimental task can be described as a determination of thermodynamic conditions of the reaction of hydrocarbon synthesis with a presence of above-mentioned substances-donators and FeO.

We could find a description of only one experimental attempt of the hydrocarbons synthesis from minerals in laboratory conditions in literature [1]. However, as author of this article wrote himself, there was no equilibrium during the experiment, a penetration of hot air took place, a impermeability wasn’t provided etc.

In 1997-1998 experiments dealing with the non-organic synthesis of complex hydrocarbon systems were made by a group of the Russian scientists (the head of the project was Dr. V.Kutcherov). We used CaCO3 as a donator of carbon and water as a donator of hydrogen. We used both Fe and FeO to create a favorable restoring environment. High-pressure equipment used gave us the possibility to reach a chemical equilibrium in the experiment cell. The experiments were made at the pressure 2.5-5.0 GPa and at the temperature 1200-1500 K. Products obtained during experiments have been investigated on a mass-spectrometer. The results of the investigation confirm that the mixture of initial members of alkans, alkens and arens up to C10 were detected in the products of reaction. The results of preliminary experiments were presented by the Russian National Petroleum Committee to the World Petroleum Congress (Calgary, 2000). One article reflected results obtained was submitted to the Russian scientific magazine “Doklady Rossijskoi Akademii Nauk”. The above-mentioned preliminary results are the basis of the project presented. The head of the project – Dr. Vladimir Kutcherov is a Ph. D holder, an expert in experimental investigation of properties and phase behavior of complex hydrocarbon systems at high pressure [2, 3]. A Head’s assistant – Prof. Nikolai Bendeliani is a Doctor of Science, an expert in high-pressure physics [4, 5]. Dr. Michail Mokhov is a Ph. D holder, an expert in development and exploration of oilfields. Besides the head of the project and his assistants, 9 Russian scientists and engineers are going to take part in the project. Four of them are experts in high pressure physics, two are experts in the kinetics of chemical reactions at high temperatures, one is an expert in general and petroleum geology, one is an engineer and one is a technician with more than 25 years of experience.

Expected results and its application.

1. Reliable confirmation of the possibility of petroleum synthesis in the upper mantle of the Earth;
2. Determination of thermodynamic conditions of the synthesis of different hydrocarbons;
3. Confirmation of the possibility of migration of synthesized hydrocarbons to the sedimentary basin.

A unique high-pressure equipment, high qualified researchers, tested methodology of high-pressure experiments and analysis of products of reactions, convincing preliminary results together with a planned independent expert examination give us a good chance to get fundamental results which could reject existing approaches in Petroleum Science, to make important practical conclusions for oil and gas exploration.

1. Chekalyuk E.B., Boiko G.E., Bakul V.N. Problemy sverhglubokogo bureniya na territorii USSR. – Kiev, Naukova Dumka, 1968;
2. V.Kutcherov, G.Backstrom, M.Anisimov and A.Chernoutsan, Int. J. Thermophys. 14: 91 (1993);
3. V.Kutcherov, A.Lundin, R.G.Ross, M.Anisimov and A.Chernoutsan, Int. J. Thermophys. 15: 165 (1994);
4. I.S.Gladkay, G.N.Kremkova, N.А.Bendeliani. Diamond and related materials. №5, 1440-1443 (1996);
5. N.B.Bolotina, T.I.Dyuzheva, N.А.Bendeliani, V.Petricek, A.E.Petrova. J. Alloys and Compounds. 278, 29-33 (1998).


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