Let's talk about petroleum // origin and formation

in steemstem •  5 months ago  (edited)


Greetings steemians friends, welcome once again to the reading and understanding of my petroleum blog.

I would like to point out that my articles on the oil industry have covered various topics in the area of well drilling. Being this the reason why I am looking to give a new environment to my most common topics, I have been researching about what new topics may interest the reading public, especially those people who do not fully know the technical approach of this part of Petroleum Engineering.

In this research process concerning the selection of the topic of my next publication, I thought that the people who could guide me in the selection of the topic are those who only have a basic knowledge of petroleum engineering, all with the intention of getting an article whose content can be easily understood by users of steemit.

For this I made the decision to enter the general chat of the community #steemitasclub in discord, in the chat were my friends @abneagro and @ritch, so I self-analyzed the following:

What better scenario to seek advice on the subject of my next post?

I seized the opportunity, and I asked them both:

What content about the oil industry do you think the steemit public might like?

My friend @ritch told me: it's hard to know what topic you might like in that area, I think you should ask @pinkgirl4, since she has the same profession as you.

Ideally, the mentoring should be from someone who has only a basic knowledge of petroleum engineering, so that they can get an idea about a subject that is eye-catching and interesting, but above all that is readily attractive to everyone.

Good luck to me, my friend @abneagro answered me, and said: @carlos84 and if you write something about how oil was formed?

I told him: @abneagro is not a bad idea, I will think about developing a publication on that subject.

@abneagro answered me: of course that as long as you haven't written anything about that subject.

I told him: don't worry, I haven't written anything about it, so I think it's a topic that will arouse the reader's curiosity.

Perhaps it is not so relevant to have to tell you how I came to select the topic concerning the origin of oil, but I consider it important to share with you a brief review of how I got to this point.

The other important thing to emphasize is that I will continue the constant search for topics that are eye-catching and easy for the reading public to understand.

I believe that for any person who enters into the knowledge of the oil industry, it should be very common to ask the following questions:

What is petroleum?


Author of the image: @carlos84

As I imagine the caricature exposed above the oil is a viscous liquid of black color, although its color has a variation, sometimes we can get between yellow and dark green.

The best way I think exists to conceptualize oil based on its appearance, is through visualization.


Image source. Wikimedia Commons

Imagine being able to appreciate the bottle that is filled with oil, specifically the one in the previous image.

The first thing we are going to notice is that it is a liquid fluid with viscous characteristics, of black color and with some particular smell, nevertheless this is a description that only allows us to give a conceptualization of what is the petroleum by means of observation, with this observable method we cannot determine the composition of the same one.

Petroleum is a resource that has had many years of study, and that from my point of view will continue to be under constant study and evaluation, since the importance it represents for the world population is transcendent.

The population of the planet is growing at a considerable rate, which makes the energy demand for oil derivatives increase at the same rate as the population, this makes derive a special interest in the discovery of new reserves of oil deposits, the exploitation and production of oil will be increasingly greater, so the awareness in terms of knowledge of everything relating to oil is of paramount importance.

It is motivated by the reasons given that I want to explain what oil is and the origin of its formation.

I mention the importance that this precious liquid represents, since the definition of viscous liquid and black color is not enough to conceptualize about an element of such transcendence and importance in the contemporary world.

It is also necessary to know its composition, something that we will not know exactly with a simple observation, for it we need a deep study where we can determine its chemical composition.

Chemical composition of petroleum


Author of the image: @carlos84

Perhaps you ever heard of oil as a hydrocarbon, and it is correct that oil within its chemical composition has as its main formation to be formed by a mixture of hydrocarbons, these compounds of hydrocarbons contain in their molecular structure mainly carbon and hydrogen.

Although within its chemical composition we can find a chain of hydrocarbons formed mainly by carbon and hydrogen, I must also point out that there can also be cases in which there are types of oil containing sulphur and oxygen, a situation that makes some types of petroleums have a characteristic smell.

It is the product of this varied composition of oil that makes there are types of oil with different viscosities, characteristic odors and varied, even due to its composition is that we find in the market a variety of oils that differ from light, heavy and extra-heavy petroleum.

Origin of Petroleum

Analyzing a little on this great resource, it is suitable that we think about its formation process, since the whole planet revolves around the existing demand of this mineral.

We have all had the exact moment in our lives when we thought about the existence and origin of oil, there are so many things we have heard about its formation, but it is in this article where many of these aspects will be addressed.

To evaluate and analyze the two existing theories regarding the origin and formation of oil, we must bear in mind that since the beginning of the oil boom in the world as a source of international relations, there has been a group of professionals such as geologists, chemists and engineers dedicated to studying and investigating the elements and processes that are responsible not only for the origin and formation of oil, but also for its composition, characteristics and peculiarities referring to the displacement, accumulation and entrapment of oil in sedimentary basins.

Due to the effort made by years of scientists and field research, two theories have been developed about the origin of oil, these are:

- Organic Theory

- Inorganic Theory

Organic Theory


Author of the image: @carlos84

This theory accepts the fact that oil originated from organic matter, but the question in this case is to think about what elements make up that organic matter?

For this case of the formation of oil we refer to organic matter to all that residue of vegetable or animal origin, so it can be said that under this theory oil was formed from plant and animal remains.

Everything we analyze from a formation point of view needs not only the matter that formed it, in this case the animal and vegetable matter, but also the existing conditions in which this animal and vegetable matter could decompose to form oil.

It is this analysis that leads us to argue the following question:

What were the conditions under which oil was formed from organic vegetable and animal matter?

[1] The first condition that must occur is that this plant and/or animal organic matter must be in the absence of air, that is to say that its formation has been executed in an anaerobic process.

[2] It is clear and as we have already been treating it, another condition is that the matter that is going to decompose exists, this matter of organic origin can be vegetal matter or animal matter, or a combination of both, although within this organic theory it is accepted very much the fact that the formation of petroleum carries implicit in its formation the existing condition of vegetal organic material of marine plankton.

[3] Due to the process of sedimentation and deposition of the strata, the organic vegetable and / or animal matter is buried in the subsoil product of thousands of millions of years, all this process makes that a condition for the formation of oil is that this process of deposition of the strata generate a high pressure and that these layers of earth manage to generate extremely high pressures so that this matter can decompose and give rise to what we know today as petroleum.

[4] Another indispensable condition is high temperatures, there must be high temperatures so that all this plant and / or animal matter together with high pressures can decompose to form petroleum. This is one of the reasons why the longer the vegetable and/or animal matter subjected to high temperatures lasts, the more we are going to find light oils in the oilfields in the soil.

[5] In order for this decomposition process to be able to take place in an accelerated manner, a bacteriological process must be present within the conditions of oil formation, where a considerable amount of bacteria can be originated so that in this anaerobic process the formation of oil is originated.

Inorganic Theory

This theory in particular has been very little accepted, since it lacks foundation and demonstration, its advocates are practically people who have had a study mostly oriented to the chemistry of certain compounds from which it is presumed that oil could have been formed.

However, I personally discard this theory, for the simple fact of thinking that if oil had been formed from chemical agents only, that is to say, under the absence of vegetable and/or animal organic matter, then with the importance that the use and exploitation of this resource has, we could be doing oil today in laboratories, something that is impossible, which is why I conclude that for me the only and most accepted theory is the organic theory in the formation and origin of petroleum.

Conclusions and importance of the study of the origin of petroleum

[1] The exploitation and use of oil as a non-renewable natural resource has its antecedents long before its commercial use was discovered and as a source of energy for industrial development, we have the case of Venezuela, in which the aborigines took advantage of oil emanations (menes) in different uses of their daily lives.

[2] If we study the etymology of the word oil, we can carry out the following analysis: "we start from the initiative to look for the name of the word of its derivation which is petro + oleum, which means petro=rock and oleum=oil", so it can be deduced that Petroleum means rock oil, or what is the same a type of oil found in the rock. This derivation is very true if we start from the idea that oil originates in the mother rock, and that in processes of migration and trapping it is finally possible to store in the storage rock or reservoir, in conclusion this etymology of the word oil takes us or leads us to its process of formation, migration and storage.

[3] For anyone who wants to go much deeper into the origin and formation of oil, it is necessary that they can root this study in the footprints of the past as far as the formation of oil is concerned. Among the branches of knowledge that can be deepened and searched as study alternatives for everything related to the origin of oil is Paleontology.

Paleontology covers the study of the fossil remains of animals and plants, so it is possible to study the origin of oil from a perspective about the past life during the different existing geological times.

In conclusion, the study of paleontology is essential to decipher other elements referring to the organic origin of oil, and thus be able to make existing interpretations about the presence or absence of oilfields and the different technologies to be applied for commercial exploitation.

[4] From my humble position and as a professional in petroleum engineering, I think that as more and more oil wells continue to be drilled, the help of geology and paleontology will increasingly help us to make organic theory the only source of acceptance for understanding the origin of oil, since as paleontologists and geologists continue to obtain samples of plant and animal fossils, it will be a priori the theory with the most acceptance for the contributions found.

Hoping that this information can be useful for many users of the steemit platform, especially considering that the origin and formation of oil always involves much controversy rooted in the two theories that are organic and inorganic. Greetings and see you soon.

Sources consulted

[1] FAIRBRIDGE, RHODES W.; JABLONSKI, David: The Encyclopedia of Paleontology, Dowdew, Hutchinson & Ross, Inc., Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, 1979.

[2] FRICK, Thomas C.; TAYLOR, William R.: Reservoir Engineering, Vol. II, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York, 1962.

[3] HAGER, Dorsey: Practical Oil Geology, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York, 1951.

[4] TRASK, Parker Davies: Origin and Environment of Source Sediments of Petroleum, Gulf Publishing Co., Houston, 1932.

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