| By Richard Gibson: |
What Things Are Made Of
The story of America's dependency
on mineral commodities (including oil) in everyday life.
Buy the book. Print (312 pages): $17.95; electronic (PDF) $9.99. Additional e-versions details to come.
visit the blog
|Share this article|
Support this page!
A: Petroleum in not "a mineral." A mineral is a naturally occurring chemical compound with a regular crystalline structure. Petroleum is not crystalline when it solidifies. The phrase "mineral oil" is a misleading name, indicating simply that it occurs from the earth as opposed to, say, whale oil or soy bean oil.
The question of the source for petroleum -- organic matter vs. non-organic ("abiogenic") -- has been debated for years. There are few scientists who would argue that there is NO oil produced that has non-organic origins, but most would say that the amount is very small. By far most of the oil and natural gas in the world is generated by heat and pressure applied to accumulations of organic material (mostly plants). It is possible that there might be small commercial accumulations of abiogenic (= not organic) gas, but they will be small.
Want to know more?|
Gibson Consulting recommends: Read The Prize, by Daniel Yergin.
©1997-2009 Gibson Consulting
Background image of drilling well in Utah in 1981 © 2000 by Dick Gibson