The Creation Wiki is made available by the NW Creation Network
Watch monthly live webcast - Like us on Facebook - Subscribe on YouTube

Oil formation

From CreationWiki, the encyclopedia of creation science
Jump to: navigation, search
Specimen of 50 ml crude oil (petroleum)

Oil formation theories differ based on the two primary worldviews, one being a biblical worldview and the other being an evolutionary worldview. However, through much experimentation and testing, the biblical worldview is beginning to lead the way. Two models of oil formation are prevalent. One is the organic model, which forms from the remains of organic material and the second is the abiogenic origin, which is the formation of oil from primordial matter. [1]

Origin and Chemistry

Natural oil leeching out of some shale.

Crude oil being a hydrocarbon has an organic origin. These origins mostly likely came from plants and animals that decomposed and were buried. After burial they were fossilized in a source rock (rocks in which the oil and gas originated), there the process of diagenesis takes place, allowing only kerogen to be left. From there a chemical reaction took place called catagenesis (changing into molecules of oil), transforming both the animal and plant wastes into crude oil and natural gas.[2] [1] From there the oil has to migrate upward a long distance to their final trapping location, which consists of porous sedimentary rock reservoir. [3] These rock reservoir are typically one to three miles beneath the surface of the earth. Contained throughout out the porous rock are oil, gas, and water. The shape of the reservoir plays an important role in keeping the oil and other organic material trapped beneath the surface of the earth, due to its arch-shaped. However, to keep the oil from rising upward, a non-porous rock cap is seen above the reservoir. The oil reservoir is also surrounded by non-porous rock, enabling the oil to stay within the reservoir. [1]

While some scientists believe that oil can for inorganically, the chemistry of the oil can inform us otherwise. One molecule found in oil that is important for identifying its origin is porphyrins. While it has many organic substances, this single molecule is crucial for understanding the formation of oil. This molecule is also found in plants and blood. One prominent author Russell, W.L. who wrote Principles of Petroleum Geology, quoted, “Porphyrins are complex organic substances related to chlorophyll and hemoglobin, which are destroyed by oxygen and heat.” The key part of this molecule is that they are destroyed by the presence of heat and oxygen. When scientists assess the preservation of porphyrins, a common conclusion is that they were in the presence of a global reducing environment, but that is not the best possible explanation. The best explanation is a global catastrophe, or more specifically the Flood of Noah’s day. During this flood, there would have numerous animals and plants that would have died and been rapidly covered by sedimentation. This rapid sedimentation would completely isolate porphyrins from all external elements that would normally destroy the molecule. [2][1]


Drilling rig pumping oil and gas from a reservoir founded by the help of geologists.

During the early petroleum industry in the United States, a common problem faced them, which was how to find the underground oil traps. In the early 1860’s, the earth crust was commonly evaluated to find underground oil reservoirs. However, nowadays geologists look at it at a deeper level. By analyzing the faults and folds of the earth structural geologist are able to identify the location of the oil reservoirs. Other methods include the use of stratigraphy (the study of rock layering) and seismic exploration (testing using artificial earthquake energy) to identify the reserves. [3]

Rapid Oil Formation

While many scientists hold true to the evolutionary view that oil formation takes million of years. However, scientists are now able to produce hydrocarbons (oil and gas) in a laboratory setting from a vase amount of organic material in a minimal amount of time. [4]

Sewage, an alternate material for making hydrocarbons.

Sewage to Oil

New research is being done at Batelle Laboratories in Richland, Washington on oil formation from sewage. In the process of converting the oil no high technology equipment was used, but just basic materials. They began by concentrating the sewage and adding an alkali to help digest it. When under heat and pressure the alkali begins to decompose organic material into hydrocarbon. Specifically the cellulose is converted into the long chains of hydrocarbons or crude oil. Although this new formula worked, it was not the right quality for commercial fuel oil. Later in 1987 they meet up with American Fuel and Power Corporation, who with their expertise were able to add a necessary additive, allowing the oil to have a higher viscosity and reach commercial fuel oil standards. Incredibly this process only takes a day or two, but contains almost the same energy as diesel fuel. [4]

Coal to Oil in Laboratory

Scientist began to observe the sedimentary rock basin in Australia and observed the transformation of coal to oil. CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) began to perform test between 1977 to 1983, but being that the laboratory environment was not comparable to the natural geologic environment; scientist often questioned the accuracy of the experiment. However, CSIRO is now, under closely monitored laboratory environment, mimicking the conditions found in the sedimentary rock basin and increasing the period of the experiment to six years. To accurately depict the natural environment found in the basin, they are using two different source rocks, oil shale (torbanite) and brown coal (lignite). These two samples were individually divided into six pieces for a total of twelve sample pieces. Then these twelve samples were placed in stainless-steal tubes, which were placed in a oven at 100 degrees Celsius. After each week the oven was increases one degree Celsius for a total of 300 weeks and a maximum temperature of 400 degrees Celsius. When completed each sample was evaluated and tested for its gas contents and oil. The oil shale acted as an oil source and the brown coal was able to produce a carbon dioxide and natural gas condensate. Through this experiment it disproves the geologist claim that source rocks take one thousand to one million years to form oil. [4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 The Origin of Oil John D. Matthews, Answers Research Journal, December 17, 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Origin of Oil Andrew A. Snelling, Ph.D., Answers Magazine, December 27, 2006.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Chemistry of Oil - Explained by Flood Geology David R. McQueen, M.S., Acts & Facts, May 1, 1986.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 How fast can oil form? Andrew A. Snelling, Creation Ministries International, March 1990.

Further Reading

  • Lewan, M. D. 1992. Role of water in petroleum formation. U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1074:46.
  • Sulfur speeds oil formation in lab: The presence of reactive sulfur compounds could help explain oil deposits that show up in unexpected places. Ref: Lewan, M.D. 1998. Sulphur-radical control on petroleum formation rates. Ref: Revue / Journal Title Nature (Nature) ISSN 0028-0836 CODEN NATUAS 1998, vol. 391, no6663, pp. 164-166 (29 ref.)

See also