Easier to find oil

Published Sep 07, 2009

Researchers at KTH have been able to prove that the fossils of animals and plants are not necessary to generate raw oil and natural gas. This result is extremely radical as it means that it will be much easier to find these energy sources and that they may be located all over the world.

“With the help of our research we even know where oil could be found in Sweden!” says Vladimir Kutcherov, Professor at the KTH Department of Energy Technology in Stockholm.

Together with two research colleagues, Professor Kutcherov has simulated the process of pressure and heat that occurs naturally in the inner strata of the earth’s crust. This process generates hydrocarbons, the primary elements of oil and natural gas.

According to Vladimir Kutcherov, these results are a clear indication that oil supplies are not drying up, which has long been feared by researchers and experts in the field.

He adds that there is no chance that fossil oils, with the help of gravity or other forces, would have been able to seep down to a depth of 10.5 kilometres under, for example the Gulf of Mexico. This is, according to Vladimir Kutcherov, in addition to his own research results, further evidence that this energy sources can occur other than via fossils - something which will cause a lively discussion among researchers for a considerable period of time.

“There is no doubt that our research has shown that raw oil and natural gas occur without the inclusion of fossils. All types of rock formations can act as hosts for oil deposits,” asserts Vladimir and adds that this applies to areas of land that have previously remained unexplored as possible sources of this type of energy.

This discovery has several positive aspects. Rate of success as concerns finding oil increases dramatically – from 20 till 70 percent. As drilling for oil and natural gas is an extremely expensive process, costs levels will be radically changed for the petroleum companies and eventually also for the end user.

“This means savings of many billions of kronor,” says Vladimir.

In order to identify where it is worth drilling for natural gas and oil, Professor Kutcherov has, via his research, developed a new method. The world is divided into a fine-meshed grid. This grid is the equivalent of cracks, known as migration channels, through strata underlying the earth’s crust. Good places to drill are where these cracks meet.

According to Professor Kutcherov, these research results are extremely important not least as 61 percent of the world’s energy consumption is currently based on raw oil and natural gas.

The next stage in this research is more experiments, especially to refine the method that makes it easier to locate drilling points for oil and natural gas.

The research results produced by Vladimir Kutcherov, Anton Kolesnikov and Alexander Goncharov were recently published in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience, Volume 2, August.

For more information, please contact Vladimir Kutcherov at vladimir.kutcherov@indek.KTH.se or on +46 8790 85 07.

Peter Larsson

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