The Origin of Petroleum
- Hans Von Hofer
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Transactions of the AIME
- Publication Date
- December 1915
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 481 - 503
- 1915. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.3.4 Scale, 4.6 Natural Gas, 5.8.4 Shale Oil, 5.1.2 Faults and Fracture Characterisation, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 5.1.1 Exploration, Development, Structural Geology
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Apart from the hypothesis of a cosmic origin (which failed of acceptancebecause it was not adequately supported by facts),
the only important controversy concerning the origin of petroleum has been, fora, long time, between the advocates of
inorganic and of organic origin respectively. Each of these theories has had along history of development, and is still
being perfected, under the influence of two causes: (1) the increasinglyextensive and thorough study of the oil-fields (of
which new examples are periodically discovered and opened; and (2) the progressof synthetic experiments devoted to this
question. Moreover, the advance in our physical and chemical knowledge of theproperties of this peculiar natural product has
necessarily modified all criticism of conflicting views.
I. The Hypothesis of Inorganic Origin
That the nation of an inorganic origin of petroleum, first set forth byBerthelot in 1866, and afterward ingeniously
developed and formulated by Mendelejeff, should thus have proceeded chieflyfrom chemists, is quite natural; for the question
was one of possible chemical processes in the earth's interior, and of imaginedchemical reactions to be verified by
experiment. Hypotheses of this kind were suggested by many chemists, of whomtwo, P. Sabatier and J. H. Senderens, may be
specially named by reason of their highly interesting chemicalexperiments.
Among geologists, Mendelejeff's hypothesis was received at first with muchinterest and favor; for it rested on the
assumption of a central terrestrial mass of iron carbide, and the geologistshad good reasons for adopting that assumption.
Yet comparatively few of them attempted to furnish geological proofs of thehypothesis: the majority either silently believed
in it, or for one or another reason rejected it altogether.
An apparently weighty support of Mendelejeff's view was furnished by theAmerican, G. F. Becker, who found in the oil-regions
of the United States important and abnormal disturbances of the isogons ofterrestrial magnetism, and inferred that in these
regions the central iron mass must come nearer to the surface thanelsewhere.
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