2000 - Volume #24, Issue #4, Page #05[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Scientist Says Supply Of Oil Is Virtually Inexhaustible
The traditional theory of oil, coal and natural gas is that these substances are made up of the bodies of dead creatures and plant material. Gold does not believe that. He thinks the earth has a large biological core and that oil comes bubbling to the surface from inside. In his view, the earth contains a virtually inexhaustible supply of oil.
Gold has frequently been on the "maverick" side of issues. For 20 years, he ran the Cornell Center for Radiophysics and Space Research in Ithaca, New York, where he still lives. He was a colleague and friend of the late astronomer, Carl Sagan.
Gold says there's evidence for his controversial oil theory, and he lays it out in his recent book, The Deep Hot Biosphere. For one thing, a number of large oil fields have produced many times more oil they they were originally thought to hold. Other oil fields around the world, which were once thought to be depleted, have been refilling at a rapid rate, including some fields in the Middle East and sites in the Gulf of Mexico.
To help prove his theory, Gold persuaded a research group in Sweden to drill down nearly 5 miles through solid granite rock that most geologists said could never shelter organic material or oil. However, Gold pulled up a putty-like sludge that proved them wrong..
The bottom line is that Gold believes oil comes from the center of the earth, bubbling up below the earth's crust. As oil is pumped out of its shallowest levels, oil from below eventually rises to replenish the wells. Oil companies and their geologists do not want to hear his theories for several obvious reasons, he says. First, it would mean that all their thinking for the past hundred years has been wrong. And secondly, the idea that our oil supply is virtually unlimited would totally change the way people view oil. When prices are high, oil producers can always fall back on scarcity arguments.
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