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Impact of Petroleum and Gas Origin on the Exploration of their Commercial Accumulations

Rustem Seyful-Mulyukov


The exploration petroleum and gas accumulation is one of important component of world industry. In the great degree their effectiveness and cost depends on the view of petroleum genesis. Petroleum geology science and practice of exploration work caring out during last 60 years by world leading oil companies is being under pressure of organic model and mother rocks as its main component. However their presence and positive characteristics often does not confirmed by the result of exploration work and wells drilling.

That situation forced to be doubt about biosphere nature of petroleum hydrocarbon and looks for alternative model. Indeed inorganic petroleum genesis was considered by many scientists (5, 8, 11, 14). All of them in spite of differences in the mechanisms of hydrocarbon molecules generation have one common feature. Petroleum generation considers as the reactions between natural inorganic chemical substances containing carbon under close to mantle thermodynamic condition. The substances could be rocks, liquids, gases or even organic matter by one way or other submerged to the depth of lithosphere. Under any processes petroleum is collateral product of others geological processes and geochemical reactions.

Petroleum possessed by unique chemical composition and molecular structure reflecting independent self-development of carbon matter starting by the carbon and hydrogen atoms appearance and finishing by formation of complex system consists of 500 hydrocarbon molecules. The system has been created in such sequence could not be collateral product since its generation corresponds to law of the matter development in Universe from simple to complex, from more heated to cold state (1). This idea as far as petroleum is concerned is substitutes below.

1. The problems of organic petroleum genesis

The understanding and acceptance of inorganic nature of petroleum need to prove that postulates of organic model are not meet the modern data on this problem. In fact organic model is basing on four principles of mother matter origin and its transformation into petroleum. We analyzed the possibility of the realization each of them according to the laws and principles of geology, geochemistry, chemistry, ecology, thermodynamics and information science. The result turned out very surprising.

First postulate considers that source material is organic reminders accumulated in marine basins together with sedimentary rocks. The source rocks including their distribution, thickness and organic carbon percentage are indicators of petroleum potential (20). Unfortunately any detailed substitutions of organic matter appearance in source rocks from geological, biological and ecological laws and principles never have been considered. From the very beginning in the middle of XVIII century organic matter as source for the petroleum generation was accepted a-priory, as a proposition without estimation (13). Two hundred years later only the first estimation of biosphere mass was made (23) and calculation of total petroleum reserves in existing petroleum basins was carried out (15). The comparison of these two calculations shows that the organic matter (lipid and lignin to be more exact) accumulated during 10 M years in whole Earth is not enough to generate petroleum to fulfill even one giant petroleum field.

Lack of organic raw material for petroleum generation is completely in line with the result of fundamental work on biology and ecology of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems (2). Authors proved that any ecosystems are not producing superfluous, unnecessary organic substances, especially lipid one, these can accumulate beyond the trophic chains of all levels. Biosphere is self-sufficient, its existence and development provides the natural organic matter circle and its quantity remain constant as it was proved by Vernadskiy (23). So, the organic remainders of biosphere and source rocks that capable to form the kerogen and when the billions tones of the fusil hydrocarbons are not existed any more. It is great laps in the history of petroleum geology and geochemistry.

Second postulate considers the tectonic processes providing the source rocks slow down to heat them and thermodynamic transformation of organic matter into petroleum. The tectonic processes setting down source rocks are studying by paleotectonics reconstructions. Therefore any source rocks of petroleum containing basins had to be burred to depth there they can warm up to +60oC even once in history. Alas! The paleotectonic reconstruction show that source rocks of petroleum basins located within some pre-Cambrian platforms never burred to the depth of such temperature. Volga-Ural or Persian Gulf petroleum provinces could be the example. (18). If source rocks had not realized its ability to generate petroleum until now within some basins when organic model could not explained the appearance of billions tones of the petroleum within accumulations in these basins.

There are others petroleum provinces like Algerian or Siberian platform where earlier heating born other problem. Here source rocks burred down to katagenesis temperature during Mesozoic and Cenozoic. It means that petroleum have been generated several hundred million years ago was keeping its composition and integrity unchangeable all this time. It is impossible since petroleum with 500 hydrocarbon molecules is highly balanced in composition and structure complex system with minimal entropy could not keep it so long.

Third postulate considers petroleum migration abilities. Petroleum have been generated in source rocks has to migrate though sedimentary formations since generation areas and accumulation ones separated some time by hundreds miles. For the long time one was considered that petroleum in its initial chemical composition can overcame such a distance, while nobody and never proved that possibilities for sure. Laboratory research of petroleum movement through ideal media (pipe filled with sand) as well as calculation of liquid viscous mixture motion though homogenous or heterogeneous media did not show definitely the possibilities such motion (12). So, accumulation of petroleum as the result of hydrocarbon fluid migration by hundreds miles still is a hypothesis only without strong substitution.

Fourth postulate considers petroleum age. The age of petroleum is inseparable from their organic nature and source material. Last one could accumulate, transformed into kerogen and then into petroleum starting by earliest stages of biosphere development. So according to organic model the presence of petroleum which age is pre-Cambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic or Cenozoic always considers as the fact that does not need to be proved. Exploration of Paleozoic Mesozoic petroleum is normal terminology in the exploration work. Such the ability assigned to petroleum is in full conflict with its chemical composition, physical properties and laws of sedimentary basins development containing petroleum and gas accumulations. From geological point of view is absolutely impossible for any reservoir to keep its composition and structure intact under effect of dynamic geological processes. All petroleum confined to any reservoir has no any chance to keep its composition permanent.

Petroleum consists of more than 500 types of hydrocarbons substances with different structure. They are chain (alcanes), cyclic (isoparaffines or naphthenes) and ring (aromatics) configurations molecules. Petroleum as the complex system possesses by invariance, synenergetics and minimal entropy (18). Complex system having such composition and minimal entropy could not be created under high energy environment and could not keep low entropy during hundred million of years.

Short description of main postulates of organic model shows that hydrocarbon molecules genesis could no be just heating of organic reminders. Organic carbon (Corg) into sedimentary formations in the rate of 1-3% has no relation with biosphere. This carbon, by mistake considering as biosphere organic, has deep inorganic nature. The simplest monatomic carbon or simplest gasecious hydrocarbon molecules migrate from mantle or deep lithosphere stratums to the surface and deposited together with terrestrial material in sedimentary basins. Only such process of migration and accumulation could explain uniformity in the distribution of Corg in the source rocks registered on the huge territories.

2. Inorganic genesis of petroleum and gas

Below we present the model of inorganic petroleum genesis. It basis are data of geological observation, incontestably laws of matter development and catalytic reactions of hydrocarbons transformation have been proved by analytical and organic chemistry, these realized under thermodynamic conditions close to upper mantle and lithosphere ones. All that data show as follows

  • Petroleum by 90% consists of carbon and hydrogen atoms only and this ration remains in any petroleum basin all over the globe, in at any depth as well as into reservoir composition and age;
  • Petroleum and commercial accumulation as well as petroleum manifestations established in sedimentary and magmatic rocks are composing continental regions and their shelves, at the depth with thermodynamics not exceeded the critical state of hydrocarbon molecules of the determined structure and composition;
  • Hydrocarbon substances aliphatic and aromatic these compose all hydrocarbon sequences of petroleum are not exist in any living organism since thermodynamics under which they primarily generate exclude their formation into the cell of organism.
  • These thee postulates are basis to consider the parent substance to generate petroleum are carbon and hydrogen atoms. From appearance of first hydrocarbon molecule, during further their successive transformation into complex ones and ending by petroleum the carbon and hydrogen ration is remaining constant. It takes place in any lithologic, petrologic, hydrogeologic, biochemical and other conditions of geological media

    The cognition of the structure and development of the complex system is based on the laws and postulate of separate sciences like physics, chemistry, mathematics and others. Therewith the science is exists that based on the laws of separate disciplines but tied them logically and allows understand their cause-consequences relation in the given natural phenomenon. Such science is informatics. We follow by the ideas (9) developed on the basis of fundamental principles of philosophy, physics and mathematics that proved the primacy of informatics laws. It was informatics laws allowed understand the absence of cause-consequences relations between petroleum and biosphere garbage which in fact organic matter of source rocks is, between simple heating that in fact catagenesis is and integrated process of successive catalytic transformation of composition and structure of hydrocarbon molecules depend upon many natural factors.

    The basic idea of our model is carbon and hydrogen atoms in their standard nucleon-electron-orbital configuration. It determines all further chemical reactions of valence bonds transformation of hydrocarbon molecules. We accept idea on the appearance of the standard atom configuration in upper mantle under decompression of super compressed, homogenous mantle matter (6, 21).

    The general scheme of petroleum genesis process shows fig.1

    Steps of hydrocarbon molecules formation from mantle to oil accumulation


    Hydrocarbon molecules generation starts in upper mantle. First hydrocarbons that appeared are hydrocarbon protomoles (proto molecules) with very short life time. First hydrocarbon molecule is methane which is migrating though fractures and crystal structure of minerals keeping its chemical and structural individuality. It happens due to its molecule has minimal free energy. Methane does not dissolve in water under normal temperature. Methane does not generated by chemical reactions under atmosphere conditions because needs much energy. All of these features undoubtedly show its deep nature and ability for the vertical migration to Earth surface as pure methane or as a part of gasiform fluid deep flow.

    Methane vertical fluid flow by several times is greater than methane volume generated by biochemical destruction of organic materials (22). Transit migration of deep methane mainly through faults partly finished by scattering into atmosphere since it lightest than air by 1.6 times. Other part is accumulating in ocean bottom and in permafrost regions as gas hydrate or clathrates. Methane together with ethane, propane and butane being gaseous hydrocarbons finally are forming the commercial gas accumulations if trap, reservoir, cap rocks and canal of hydrocarbon migration are exist. Methane generation is the process taking place now.

    Methane molecule possessed by other feature. Under impact of determined combination of parameters of the geological media and thermodynamics one valence bond of carbon atom with one hydrogen atom can broke. The molecule become proto-molecule that possesses by one unused valence bond, it is alkyl radical –CH3. Radicals can connect by free valence bond of carbon atom and in this way starts formation of alkanes (paraffines) with common formula CnH2n+2.

    Liquid paraffines these have more than 4 carbon atoms starts petroleum formation. Decisive role in this process belongs to the changes of temperature and pressure these lead to the necessity to change molecule structure corresponding to new condition of geological media.

    If carbon atoms are 3 and more alkyd radicals could continue to lengthen the chain forming more composite homolog of alkanes. However the molecule complication has thermodynamic limit. During migration up molecule structure become more composite but temperature and pressure are slowing down. It means lack of energy to maintain long alkanes chain. It is necessary to change the order of atoms connection in carbon skeleton for support molecule stability under new thermodynamic condition. Natural algorithm performs the alkanes circuit into cycle with planar stereochemical placement of carbon and hydrogen atoms in molecule. It adds stability to molecule construction, its density boiling and melting temperature is increasing compared to alkanes with the same quantity of carbon and hydrogen atoms (7).

    In this way naphthenes get started formation. Their general formula is CnH2n. Like alkanes two first members of naphthenes: cyclopropane (C3H6 ) and cyclobutane (C4H8 ) are gases, C5H10 – C10H20 are liquids and C11H22 and more are solid. Cyclopentane and cyclohexane as well as their derivatives are consisting of main part of petroleum composition in some petroleum fields. The number six of carbon atoms in naphthenes is some kind of boundary thereafter new structure of the hydrocarbon molecule is creating that called aromatic or benzene. It is other example when molecule structure complication during its migration up reached new thermodynamic limit and has to be restructuring to correspond to new thermodynamic condition. Each carbon atom formed hexahedron connects with hydrogen atom by one valence bond. Benzene molecule has equal number of carbon and hydrogen atom and chemically too stable. The common formula of benzene’s row of hydrocarbon is CnHn. Benzene molecule is 3D one because under and above hexahedron two electron clouds located consisting of by ρ- electrons. Any hydrogen atom connected with carbon one can be replaced by any univalent radical.

    From thermodynamic point of view the aromatization or the transformation cycle bond of cyclopentane C5H10 into hexahedron bond of benzene C6H6 take place under +4500C and pressure 20 atmosphere, but under effect of metal catalysts. C10H20 naphthene is aromatizing under +3200C (7). From geological point of view such temperatures correspond to 15-20 km depth in continental type of Earth crust in pre-Cambrian and Mesozoic platforms.

    The main chemical mechanism of simple hydrocarbon molecules transformation into all their variety in petroleum is catalytic reactions of hydrocarbons with aluminium silicates and transition metals constituting rocks taking place during fluid migration through Earth crust. Catalytic reaction accomplishing in more soft thermodynamic conditions decreased the energy level needed for hydrocarbon molecules transformation. Mechanisms, reactions and thermodynamic conditions of transformation any types of hydrocarbon on homogenous and heterogenous catalysts under temperature not exceeded 6000C and pressure 900 atmospheres were studied by chemists in laboratory (7). The results have been received give idea on the character of the same reaction in real geological media.

    The genesis of all variety of the petroleum molecules is natural process of the successive transformation of simple molecules into more complicated ones. Decreasing energy level while molecules slow up is compensating by transformation one energy consuming structure of hydrocarbons molecule into other ones consuming less energy to keep stability. The process starts by primordial protomoles formation, then simplest molecules in gaseous form appeared after that liquid ones. The process is finished into petroleum accumulation by formation of complex thermodynamic system which petroleum is. It has appointed ratio of alkanes, cyclic and aromatic hydrocarbons independently there the accumulation is located.

    One of the main condition of hydrocarbon molecules transformation is catalytic reactions these take place while hydrocarbons are migrating up though rock formations. In Earth crust the mineral catalysts are Na, K, Ca and Mg aluminium silicates these are composing more than 60% of upper lithosphere rocks. Most important as the catalysts among aluminium silicates is zeolite group of minerals with common formula (AlO2/4.SiO2/4). (K, Na, Ca Mg)2 .nH2O. Zeolite is the “porous crystal” with hard crystal skeleton. Large pore dimensions allows to hydrocarbon molecule penetrates inside zeolite herewith one of carbon atom interacts with hydrogen atom of zeolite. As the result of the catholic reaction new hydrocarbon molecule leaves zeolite (3).

    Great impact on the catalytic conversions of hydrocarbons renders by buried crusts of weathering. They are associating with regional unconcordant bedding and correspond to the long pause in the sedimentation process. The rocks including crystalline basement one have been removed to surface are weathered during hundred million of years. The crusts of weathering are ideal media for the formation of most complicated hydrocarbon molecules as complex naphtenes and aromatic ones, since physical and biological weathering broked aluminium silicates increasing their catalysts properties. Wells drilling on last decade on Tartar dome exposed pre-Cambrian crystalline basement by 3.000 m. Rocks on this interval are fractured by micro cracks these are providing migrations of fluid (16).

    The main force of hydrocarbons transformation is their vertical migration. It provides the changes of the thermodynamic conditions and geological media. They both are triggering the natural algorithm that managed by changes of hydrocarbon molecules composition and structure to create new ones corresponding to new thermodynamic condition.

    Informatics laws applied for petroleum allowed for the firs time substitute the idea about information content of the hydrocarbon molecule. The idea has real base since physicists and mathematicians proved that information is one of the fundamental attribute of matter intrinsic to all atoms including carbon and hydrogen ones (4, 9, 10, 19, 24,). By 99% petroleum constitutes five elements: C, H, S, N and O. Their information content in bit is as follows (9):

    C -109, H – 10, S – 317, N – 139, O – 149.

    We stated above that petroleum genesis is consecutive process of simplest hydrocarbon molecules transformation into complex ones. It means that, for example, sequence of hydrocarbon substances created in process

    H, C → ≡CH → CH4 → C6H6…….→ C35H64SNO,

    (hydrogen and carbon atoms → hydrocarbon protomole → methane → benzene………..→ petroleum)

    One can express by formulas as well as by the bit of information.

    The change of information content proves the postulate that genesis of petroleum is the process of the creation the complex substance from simple ones. This idea demonstrated by the table

    4. Impact of petroleum genesis postulates on exploration works methodology

    Petroleum genesis process presented below is resulting by the petroleum accumulation formation. It exploration is the main aim of petroleum geologist. We consider that the accumulation existence recently studying by conventional geological and geophysical methods also can be added by the calculation by mathematical algorithms of fuzzy logic.



                                                                           Table 1


    Exploration works in fact is the establishment of cause-consequences relations between indices of petroleum genesis process that took place and its final result as petroleum commercial accumulation.

    The cause is process itself the parent matter of which is carbon and hydrogen atoms. The formation of all totality of petroleum hydrocarbon sequences is the modern, discrete process that starts in upper mantle and finishes in accumulation. It progresses in lithosphere out of the possibilities its observation and parameters measurement. Independently it is modern process or process took place hundred million years ago it as well as substances participant could not be measured and expressed by physical units. It is manifestation one of the main properties of complex natural system which petroleum is namely dynamic uncertainty. In our case it is uncertainty of migrating fluid characteristic, uncertainty of geological media through that fluid is migrating in each finite moment. As the consequences the trajectory of fluid movement in space and in time one can’t expressed by classical mathematics (18). Speculations and deductions on the petroleum supposedly generated millions year ago, hundred kilometers from accumulation and migrated through complex geological formations these changed in time and space are out of physical, geochemical and geological sense.

    The consequence is result of genesis process. All stages of exploration work aimed to the consequence study but not the cause. When and where petroleum and gas was generated, under that state they migrated and under that conditions hydrocarbons accumulated into reservoir all these sequence of processes and conditions these precede to the accumulation appearance are not categories geologist has to deal with.

    The occurrence of petroleum commercial accumulation determined by two phenomena the nature and method of exploration of these are different.

    One phenomenon is geological entity (geological object) that presented by unity of four elements: trap, reservoir, shield, canal of migration. Each of them was forming before accumulation of petroleum and gas since all hydrocarbon accumulations without exception are epigenetic against these elements. For the appearance of petroleum or gas accumulation the existence all of them together are strictly necessary. The absence only one means absence of accumulation of any kind. Parameters and characteristics each of them has to be presented explicitly: “yes” or “no”. They are measuring by deterministic unit: meters, cubic meters, degree, kilograms, tones, chemical elements, mineral, rocks et al.

    Petroleum search begins by the exploration of geological objects long before commercial accumulation would be established. Recently the exploration of the geological object is the main aim of petroleum search that is realizing by many technical means and technologies. Though the presence all elements of the geological object doesn’t guaranty the presence of petroleum accumulation. Therefore besides the geological object elements it is necessary something else without that commercial petroleum accumulation could not be. This “something” is other phenomenon that is the result of discrete process of petroleum and gas generation.

    The result of the discrete process identification requires the special methods of investigation. Accumulation presence could not be expressed explicitly: “yes” – “no” (thru – false) since the result of a discrete process could not be described by classical Boolean logic because its mathematical calculation required exact single-valued data.

    The presence or absent of petroleum or gas pool could be established without any logic by the well drilling. In this case the result “yes” or “no” gives “mister drilling bit”. In spite of the fact that this technical operation too expensive and risky the most world petroleum and gas exploration companies are following to “mister drilling bit” logic. It is consequences of organic model according to that petroleum or gas content is in direct dependence from location, thickness and productivity of source rocks and from the migration of petroleum. In such a technology of exploration work is too high the uncertainty, too many subjective assessment depending on geologist experience and intuition. The subjective assessments are not able to explain the negative result even in the situation when all elements of geological object are presenting but there is no petroleum accumulation.

    If phenomena or the processes could not be determined explicitly within framework of classical logic (“yes” or “no”) one apply to the method of 1 – 0 binary function presentation by fuzzy set every member of that could accept any figurative sense from 0 to 1. Under such an approach instead of “yes” or “no” the answer that give only “mister drilling bit” any degree of truth or probability of petroleum pool detection could be specify by the variable quantity of fuzzy set (25). Such operations mean the transition from Boolean logic that in our case is mister drilling bit logic to fuzzy one. Using it the estimation the result of discrete process one can evaluate by some degree of approximation which could be too close to the truth.

    The main notion of fussy logic is fuzzy set. For the identification of an accumulation it is important that the member of fuzzy set as the linguistic terms in natural language geologist are using like “high prospective”, “middle prospective ”, “low prospective” can be translated into their digital analogues. Last ones could be processes by computer. Under the linguistic terms could be presented any notion of petroleum geology and after processing one have more answers that “yes” or “no” only. In fact the main operation of fuzzy sets: (addition, crossing, integration and others) executed by mathematical methods repeated thinking the geologist based on his intuition and experience but more exactly, rapidly and approaching close to the truth but independently from farfetched schemes of petroleum genesis and migration.

    In our case direct and indirect petroleum manifestations could be considered as two universal fuzzy sets. One is direct petroleum or gas showings forming by pool itself but indirect ones consists of ascending flow of hydrocarbon fluids. Petroleum accumulation is breathing since it is exchanging by matter (sending light hydrocarbon molecules and receiving oxygen ones) by energy (receiving or give it) and by information (the data of composition of petroleum in the given geological media). The hydrocarbons composition under accumulation is unique depending upon type of petroleum – paraphine, naphthene or aromatic. The source rocks and process of petroleum genesis as well as migration are background of the petroleum accumulation. Data about them are not considered as fuzzy set components.

    Other universal set is composing by data on ascending hydrocarbons vertical flow named hydrocarbon Earth degassing (22). It is existing independently if petroleum or gas accumulation presents or no. That flow is registering by direct geochemical mapping and indirect hydrogeological, pedological, geobotanic, microbiological and others methods registering hydrocarbons impact on vegetation, soil, underground water, microflora and bottom sediments of terrestrial or marine basins.

    Accumulation breathing and hydrocarbon flow of the Earth degassing exist and they are modern phenomena. In spite of too small concentration of hydrocarbon molecules they could be detected on nano (molecular) level by modern means of measurement especially if samples for hydrocarbons detection were cached in short boreholes beyond zone of active gas-water exchange. Data on two fuzzy subsets allows carry out operation of addition, crossing, integration, equality and others stipulated by fuzzy logic mathematical operations. As the result one can get data on the combination of indices these will more closely designate the presence of pool but doing that by mathematical calculation. It would be important addition to geologist intuition and experience.


    The considerations and logical consequences have been given above show that postulates of petroleum and gas genesis have great effect on methodology of exploration works for petroleum and gas and their rick assessment. The cause–consequence relation between result of petroleum or gas genesis process and modern placement of their commercial accumulations could be investigated. Postulates and conditions of deep inorganic petroleum and gas genesis in any modification allow predict petroleum or gas accumulation in really existing geological objects these could be reproduces by geophysical and geological exploration methods and forecast their petroleum or gas content on the basis of mathematical analyses of fuzzy set.

    The modern level of petroleum and gas geology development and the knowledge of lithosphere geology, its physical state and the processes are having place needs return to the understanding of petroleum and gas real genesis since the postulates of dominating more that 60 years organic model does not correspond to modern data and become a brake for the petroleum geology theory and exploration works methodology development.


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