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Tens Of Billions Of Additional Barrels Of Oil Remain To Be Tapped Miles Below Gulf Of Mexico
Science Daily ^ | 3-31-2003 | Cornell University

Posted on 03/31/2003 4:10:37 PM PST by blam

Source: Cornell University News Service
Date: 2003-03-31

Tens Of Billions Of Additional Barrels Of Oil Remain To Be Tapped Miles Below Gulf Of Mexico, Cornell Geologist Says

NEW ORLEANS -- U.S. reliance on foreign oil production could be reduced by chemically mapping the subsurface streams of hydrocarbons, amounting to tens of billions of barrels, hidden well below the Gulf of Mexico, says a Cornell University geologist.

These untapped oil and gas reserves can be found by matching hydrocarbon chemical signatures with geologic models for stratigraphic layers under the sea floor, says Lawrence M. Cathles, a professor of chemical geology at Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y.

"The undiscovered gas and oil potential of the Gulf of Mexico is very large," says Cathles. "We have produced only a small fraction, and the deep-water potential for finding more there is big. In terms of potential, it is bigger than the North Sea. It's about a big a deal as there is."

Cathles will present his findings in a talk, "Massive Hydrocarbon Venting with Minor, Constantly Replenished (Flow-Through) Retention in a 100 x 200 km Area Offshore Louisiana Gulf of Mexico," at the 225th national meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans at 1:30 p.m. CST on March 27.

The northern Gulf of Mexico basin is one of the world's most active areas of hydrocarbon exploration. A study of an area of about 9,500 square miles, found that hydrocarbons currently are being naturally generated from strata deposited during the Tertiary and Jurassic periods, miles below the sea floor. Hydrocarbons are leaking through natural vents at hundreds of locations, and these vent sites have been visited and studied by Cathles and other researchers using small submarines. What makes this area offshore of Louisiana important is the presence of two types of hydrocarbon deep below the gulf floor: the deeper, early-maturing Jurassic and the later-maturing Tertiary. Each has a distinctive chemistry. As these sources mature, the hydrocarbons migrate upward toward the surface through what can be thought of as a myriad of small streams and ponds, much like a natural water system. Just how much liquid hydrocarbon is retained within this subsurface network is a matter of crucial interest, Cathles says.

More than 70 percent of the hydrocarbons that have been naturally generated have made their way upward through the vast network of streams and ponds and vented into the ocean. The hydrocarbons are digested by bacteria, which then become food for the gulf's marine life. The earlier-generated, sulfur-rich, carbonate-sourced Jurassic hydrocarbons are replaced by the shallower, later-generated, shale-sourced Tertiary hydrocarbons which fill the producing reservoirs in the northern part of the study area. This displacement of Jurassic by Tertiary oil provides geologists with a measure of the remaining untapped oil and gas below the gulf's floor.

The hydrocarbons hidden within the subsurface ponds and streams are about 8 to 10 percent of the Gulf of Mexico's total hydrocarbons. In the study area this represents about 60 billion barrels of oil and 370 trillion cubic feet of gas and is the hydrocarbon that could be extracted, Cathles says. (The remaining hydrocarbons, about 20 percent, stay stored in the source strata.)

Cathles says that the telltale chemistry of the hydrocarbons reflects the streams and ponds through which they migrated, and thus could point to the ponds that remain to be discovered and produced. Ultimately he hopes that looking at the hydrocarbon chemistry in this new way could provide geologists with accurate information on the presence and size of the deeper reservoirs. He says: "By combining chemical data from currently producing reservoirs with seismic images of the subsurface using computer migration models, drilling for new deep reservoirs can be facilitated."

Funding for the research was provided by the Gas Research Institute in a joint project with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: barrels; billions; energylist; gulf; mexico; oil; tens
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1 posted on 03/31/2003 4:10:37 PM PST by blam
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Comment #2 Removed by Moderator

To: blam
Northern Gulf of Mexico... offshore of Louisiana

Using UN logic, this would be divided up half and half between Mexico and France ;-)

3 posted on 03/31/2003 4:14:35 PM PST by struwwelpeter (k chertovoy materi s pesimistami! pobeda blizko!)
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To: curiouskiwi
The northern Gulf of Mexico basin is USA waters...or at least closer to us than Mexico, so as to divert any claims.
4 posted on 03/31/2003 4:15:47 PM PST by xrp
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To: blam
DRILLING SHIPS AHOY!

DRILL DRILL DRILL, and then DRILL some more!

5 posted on 03/31/2003 4:16:58 PM PST by The KG9 Kid
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To: curiouskiwi
yesterday......but the goobermint doesn't know it yet!!! shhhhhhhh!!!!!!
6 posted on 03/31/2003 4:17:54 PM PST by cajun-jack
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To: curiouskiwi
And Louisiana will welcome the activity.

This ain't California down here.

7 posted on 03/31/2003 4:17:58 PM PST by sinkspur
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To: blam
Cathles says that the telltale chemistry of the hydrocarbons reflects the streams and ponds through which they migrated, and thus could point to the ponds that remain to be discovered and produced.

Oil doesn't migrate through "streams" or collect in "ponds." Maybe they dumbed this down for the general public, but it's grossly misleading and casts doubts on the seriousness of this study.

8 posted on 03/31/2003 4:19:04 PM PST by Dog Gone
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: curiouskiwi
So when is the USA going to declare war on Mexico???

Can't do that. Without Mexicans, we'd have to work the packing plants ourselves, or hire Canadians. And just who would mow these 4-acre yards everyone's got nowadays?


10 posted on 03/31/2003 4:20:01 PM PST by struwwelpeter (k chertovoy materi s pesimistami! pobeda blizko!)
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To: blam
deep-water potential = $$$$
11 posted on 03/31/2003 4:20:21 PM PST by HoustonCurmudgeon (Compassionate Conservative Curmudgeon)
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To: blam
Maybe you could angle you a pipe down in your backyard?
12 posted on 03/31/2003 4:20:38 PM PST by Hanging Chad (not to be confused with "Hanging Ten" or "Hanging Wallpaper"...)
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To: struwwelpeter
Uhm, maybe you could just link to gross pics instead of slapping them in a thread?
13 posted on 03/31/2003 4:22:11 PM PST by xrp
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To: xrp
That picture isn't "gross".
14 posted on 03/31/2003 4:24:18 PM PST by AM2000
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To: AM2000
I guess it's a matter of opinion.
15 posted on 03/31/2003 4:27:36 PM PST by xrp
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To: blam
There is also a large reserve in the Aegean ocean in the mediteranian.
16 posted on 03/31/2003 4:30:06 PM PST by longtermmemmory
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To: curiouskiwi
1846 and we kicked their butts.

Of course the Aztlan are planning "reconquista", so we might have to go through the drill again.

17 posted on 03/31/2003 4:30:25 PM PST by Tijeras_Slim
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To: blam
Perhaps this has something to do with the favors Bush has been doing for Vicente Fox.....?
18 posted on 03/31/2003 4:30:39 PM PST by Lizavetta
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To: Lizavetta
Nah, the oil is ours by the nature of one simple fact, Mexico does not have the capabilities to retrieve it.
19 posted on 03/31/2003 4:34:49 PM PST by Truthsearcher
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To: curiouskiwi
This part of the 'Gulf of MExico'doesn't belong to Mexico - yet.

20 posted on 03/31/2003 4:37:52 PM PST by nanny
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To: AM2000
That picture isn't "gross".

I agree...

21 posted on 03/31/2003 4:39:12 PM PST by cibco (Xin Loi... Saddam)
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To: struwwelpeter
Yes, maybe Americans would have jobs (you know they did this before the Mexicans came) and our schools could spend their money teaching our children and our hospitals might be able to stay open to treat Americans.

In the war of 1846 - our government was on our side - in this situation - they are not.
22 posted on 03/31/2003 4:39:49 PM PST by nanny
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To: blam
First we suck dry the middle east as payback for all the trouble they've caused over the centuries, leaving them to eat dist after squandering the wealth they've gained, then we turn to more local, less volitial fields.
23 posted on 03/31/2003 4:43:11 PM PST by AFreeBird (God Bless, God Speed and safe return of our troops, and may God's love be with the fallen and family)
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To: blam
Fougettaboudit!

It will be a cold day in h*ll when the enviros let this be drilled. They would rather it leak into the ocean to be used for fish food!

The prefer everybody to either drive (non-existent) electric cars or live in cities and depend on public transportation. That way, they get to use the remainder of the abandoned country as their own nature preserve and use the rest of us as slaves to labor on their favorite fantasies.

24 posted on 03/31/2003 4:44:05 PM PST by Gritty
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To: Dog Gone
Whole Earth: THE DEEP HOT BIOSPHERE.(Review) / (book review)
Address:http://www.findarticles.com/cf_dls/m0GER/1999_Winter/58458608/p1/article.jhtml
25 posted on 03/31/2003 4:45:52 PM PST by tpaine
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To: xrp
Better? ;-)
26 posted on 03/31/2003 4:53:07 PM PST by struwwelpeter (k chertovoy materi s pesimistami! pobeda blizko!)
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To: AM2000
That picture isn't "gross".

It could get you beat up in some places in South Asia, though. ;-)

27 posted on 03/31/2003 4:54:08 PM PST by Dog Gone
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To: Dog Gone
lol.
28 posted on 03/31/2003 4:57:28 PM PST by AM2000
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To: Gritty
You have probably never been in the Gulf of Mexico in a boat. There are LOTS of oil wells already drilled out there. I can't see the enviro's stopping the drilling of more. The best fishing is *always* around the oil structures.
29 posted on 03/31/2003 5:03:57 PM PST by Ditter
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To: *Energy_List
http://www.freerepublic.com/perl/bump-list
30 posted on 03/31/2003 5:06:58 PM PST by Libertarianize the GOP (Ideas have consequences)
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To: blam
These untapped oil and gas reserves can be found by matching hydrocarbon chemical signatures with geologic models for stratigraphic layers under the sea floor, says Lawrence M. Cathles, a professor of chemical geology at Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y.

I worry for this man's safety: he's advocating new drilling, and he's doing it in the City of Evil!

31 posted on 03/31/2003 5:09:07 PM PST by Petronski (I'm not always cranky.)
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To: Ditter
"The best fishing is *always* around the oil structures."

Don't eat them though, they're loaded with mercury.

32 posted on 03/31/2003 5:10:15 PM PST by blam
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To: Dog Gone
"Oil doesn't migrate through "streams" or collect in "ponds." Maybe they dumbed this down for the general public, but it's grossly misleading and casts doubts on the seriousness of this study."

Enlighten us, please.

33 posted on 03/31/2003 5:12:04 PM PST by bribriagain
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To: Dog Gone; blam
As these sources mature, the hydrocarbons migrate upward toward the surface through what can be thought of as a myriad of small streams and ponds, much like a natural water system

It is a thought process, not actual! LOL!

34 posted on 03/31/2003 5:15:25 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: blam
The hydrocarbons are digested by bacteria, which then become food for the gulf's marine life.

This can't be! Everyone knows that hydrocarbons are poisonous, spreading death, destruction and irremediable environmental harm in their wake!

That is why we cannot permit even .002% of ANWR to be opened to drilling, even if it would significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

35 posted on 03/31/2003 5:16:34 PM PST by governsleastgovernsbest
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To: Dog Gone
Oil doesn't migrate through "streams" or collect in "ponds." Maybe they dumbed this down for the general public, but it's grossly misleading and casts doubts on the seriousness of this study.

Well, Cornel is not exactly an epicenter of Petroleum Geological Research.
This would be a lot more believable from one of the Universities in Oil Country where the serious work is done.

So9

36 posted on 03/31/2003 5:20:32 PM PST by Servant of the Nine (Real Texicans; we're grizzled, we're grumpy and we're armed)
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To: struwwelpeter; Dog Gone; AM2000
One reason cows should be armed.

http://www.cowswithguns.com/

"Four legs good, Two legs bad."

George Orwell, Animal Farm

Another fearsome product of hindufundy saffronistas. The Gaya Project.

37 posted on 03/31/2003 5:24:41 PM PST by swarthyguy
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To: blam
What makes this area offshore of Louisiana important is the presence of two types of hydrocarbon deep below the gulf floor: the deeper, early-maturing Jurassic and the later-maturing Tertiary. Each has a distinctive chemistry. As these sources mature, the hydrocarbons migrate upward toward the surface through what can be thought of as a myriad of small streams and ponds, much like a natural water system.

Question-begging, assuming the "source" lies in the Tertiary or Jurassic rather than underlying both. A better explanation is that each type of hydrocarbon has a distinctive chemistry because of the strata through which it migrates. The continuous flow is better explained by a constant upwelling and cracking of primordial methane as it flows upward through rock of varying density and pore structure than by an in-situ formation of petroleum from buried organic precursors.
38 posted on 03/31/2003 5:25:14 PM PST by aruanan
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To: bribriagain
Petroleum geology is an entire major at a university, but the hardest thing for most of the public to understand is that oil seeps through microscopic pores in what appears to be solid rock.

There are no underground ponds of oil, much less streams. It's oil contained in solid rock under pressure unknown at the surface of the earth.

Some rocks are more "hollow" than others, but it's still solid rock.

Ancient earthquake faults provide leaks from one rock strata to another, but it's still nothing that can be accurately described as a stream.

39 posted on 03/31/2003 5:26:24 PM PST by Dog Gone
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To: Gritty
Fougettaboudit!

FE! I'd drill into solid granite if it pissed off the enviro wackos.
40 posted on 03/31/2003 5:26:40 PM PST by jwh_Denver
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To: curiouskiwi
We'll use all the Middle East's oil then throw the land of sand away... they can then fight over fig trees, camels, and fleas.

Trajan88

41 posted on 03/31/2003 5:26:43 PM PST by Trajan88
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To: swarthyguy
Now, that's a scary thought. I don't want to fight for a hamburger.
42 posted on 03/31/2003 5:29:31 PM PST by Dog Gone
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To: Dog Gone
Oil doesn't migrate through "streams" or collect in "ponds." Maybe they dumbed this down for the general public, but it's grossly misleading and casts doubts on the seriousness of this study.

Actually petroleum does flow in streams and collect under regions of relatively more impermeable overburden. This would make a pond or pool of oil, albeit upsidedown. Water flows because of gravity. Petroleum flows because of pressure gradients. Water collects in places out of which it cannot flow and in which the porosity is overcome by the inflow. Petroleum collects under formations the porosity of which is insufficient to handle the flow. In places where such overburden doesn't exist, the oil and accompanying methane flows right out of the ground. In some places the porosity is such that the petroleum is blocked from reaching the surface but not the methane, resulting in people lawns or fields catching on fire.
43 posted on 03/31/2003 5:35:24 PM PST by aruanan
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To: Dog Gone
Ancient earthquake faults provide leaks from one rock strata to another, but it's still nothing that can be accurately described as a stream.

Even in the absence of ancient earthquake faults, the migration of oil can accurately be described as a stream. Anything that streams from one place to another is a stream just as anything that flows is a fluid. The rate at which the phenomenon occurs in one versus another instance doesn't alter the fundamental nature the phenomenon, just the perception of it.
44 posted on 03/31/2003 5:39:36 PM PST by aruanan
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To: blam
Please forgive this question but it is one I've pondered often:

"If we pump out all the oil isn't there a huge empty space underground where the oil was and why doesn't the ground that was over where the oil was cave in? "
45 posted on 03/31/2003 5:41:48 PM PST by killermosquito
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To: aruanan
Yes, anything that flows can technically be called a stream. Even if it flows a few inches every million years.

Nobody that I know of would describe an oil-charged rock as a pond.

46 posted on 03/31/2003 5:46:09 PM PST by Dog Gone
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To: Truthsearcher
"Nah, the oil is ours by the nature of one simple fact, Mexico does not have the capabilities to retrieve it."

A book I'm reading on the U.N. describes some shenanigans concerning "The Law of the Sea" treaty, in which non- seafaring nations attempted to claim a portion of the profits made from mining the sea (while abstaining from sharing the costs).

Their con? They labelled the sea "the common heritage of mankind."

Reagan said no cigar and killed the thing. Don't know if it has been resurrected though.
47 posted on 03/31/2003 5:51:04 PM PST by avenir
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To: killermosquito
ping me when you get an answer to that. I'd like to hear.
48 posted on 03/31/2003 5:51:25 PM PST by AM2000
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To: blam
My dear Fellow Freepers here's the very large and very long range strategy: The USA will use oil from other parts of the world before we even think about using the oil readily available to us. This makes sense in the very long time frame! Think about it! We will have the "nuts" stored away when the winter comes.
49 posted on 03/31/2003 5:54:12 PM PST by TaMoDee
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To: AM2000; killermosquito
P-s-s-t
the answer you seek lies in post #39.
50 posted on 03/31/2003 5:57:59 PM PST by Hanging Chad (not to be confused with "Hanging Ten" or "Hanging Wallpaper"...)
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