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Russia Will Never Run Out of Oil!

from Isvestia “However, there is an opinion that Russia’s oil resources are limitless – mainly because hydrocarbons continue being formed today.”

­The high oil prices no longer advance the Russian economy. This unsettling conclusion was drawn by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Aleksey Kudrin, at a meeting of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP). Meanwhile, the price of “black gold” continued to spike, reaching $124 per barrel. Oil remains the foundation of the Russian budget, and has even made it deficit-free. Izvestia decided to find out how long this resource will last.

This year’s Russian budget was formulated based on the price of oil being at $75 per barrel. Anything higher than that brings surplus revenue to the budget, and with the price exceeding $120 per barrel, the budget becomes deficit-free. Seemingly, we ought to be happy. But a further increase in oil prices will have a negative effect on the Russian economy, Aleksey Kudrin said on Thursday. According to him, the economic model, which is based solely on the oil and gas sector, “has failed”.

But this, in itself, is not news – something else is important. If, until recently, the Russian economy, albeit incorrectly, grew due to the high oil prices, then now, it no longer does. The government, said Kudrin, has prepared several hypothetical scenarios for the Russian economy, which include various prices of oil. But in all of the scenarios, “the economic growth rate remains the same,” said Kudrin. “And that is the problem; this is confirmation of the unfortunate fact that the price of oil, which before the crisis was an impetus for growth, is no longer such.”

This means that the oil and gas industry stops being the locomotive of economic growth, which reached the annual rate of 10%. It continues being a vitally important source of budget replenishment, Russia’s main fortune, and a major export item. The country can earn profits on hydrocarbons for many more years to come, but it is important to know for exactly how many. People have been frightened by the exhaustibility of hydrocarbon resources – oil and gas – for about 50 years already. However, there is an opinion that Russia’s oil resources are limitless – mainly because hydrocarbons continue being formed today.

 

Carbide in a puddle

The organic theory of oil origin states that this mixture of hydrocarbons was formed as a result of the heating of ancient organic matter, dinosaur remains and decayed plants, and in this case, oil reserves will inevitably end – after all, organic matter is exhaustible. But there is also the non-organic theory of petroleum origins, which was first presented by Russian scientist Dmitry Mendeleyev.

Based on the experiments he, himself, had conducted, Mendeleyev determined that when heavy metal carbides react with water, they form hydrocarbons with a large number of hydrogen atoms in the molecule. This can be explained with the following example. The simplest carbide metal is carbide of calcium, which is usually referred to simply as carbide. Not long ago, in acetylene welding, instead of using acetylene from cylinders, people used acetylene formed in special apparatus in which carbide reacted with water. Young boys tossed pieces of off-white carbide into puddles, and set fire to the resulting emission of acetylene. To this day, carbide lamps that operate based on the same principle continue to be used by cave explorers and remote lighthouse keepers, who work in places where pulling a power line or putting a diesel tank is not practical.

Acetylene is one of the simplest hydrocarbons, and when water reacts with metal carbides that are heavier than calcium, more complex hydrocarbons are formed. Dmitry Mendeleyev believed that water seeps through the crevices of the Earth’s crust to its liquid core, which mainly consists of metals, and the hydrocarbons that are produced as a result are raised to the surface. However, the carbide theory was not confirmed in recent studies, although the non-organic theory for the origins of petroleum has not been fully rejected, and is based on a somewhat different formation mechanism of petroleum hydrocarbons.

Not from above, but from below

Neither should we seriously consider the exotic theory that petroleum was brought to Earth in the form of a discharge from the head and tail of a comet when it came in contact with the planet. Today, geologists are able to examine the depths of the Earth down to dozens of kilometers at the pressure of 20,000-30,000 atmospheres – and there, they discovered carbon: the basis of oil and gas. It has even been estimated that all of the fluid carbon – carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, dissolved carbon in the oceans, carbon-bearing surface minerals (chalk, limestone) – amounts to no more than 0.1% of all the carbon in the world, and 99.9% is located in the depths of the Earth in the form of carbonates, dolomites, and so on. Hydrocarbons are formed from the carbon.

However, the truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle. In this case, this means that both theories ought to be combined as follows: during radioactive decay in the Earth’s core, hydrogen is formed, which in turn reacts with carbon to form petroleum-like substances. They rise to the surface. During the economic blockade, imposed due to apartheid, the South African company SASOL had used this method to produce synthetic gasoline from coal, and continues to do so today. But petroleum has bio-markers – compounds that are, certainly, of organic origin, which “non-organic” petroleum comes into contact with. Thus, the organic and non-organic theories of the origin of petroleum “work” simultaneously.


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