What is Abiogenic Petroleum?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2019
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Abiogenic petroleum is understood to be petroleum that is produced deep within the earth through a series of non-biological means. From this perspective, abiogenic petroleum would be different from petroleum that is produced from fossil fuels, which are found within the earth in a number of places around the world. At the same time, abiogenic petroleum would still be considered a form of natural petroleum, as the product would be created using natural components and a series of naturally occurring events.

Generally, abiogenic petroleum is thought to be a product of deep carbon deposits within the planet. Some theories regarding the origin of abiogenic petroleum hold that the carbon was subjected to a natural process that dates all the way back to the formation of the earth. When this is the case, the theory usually sees the process involving the upward movement of carbon rich fluids from the core of the earth into sections nearer the outer crust of the globe.

The first theories about the development of petroleum are generally thought to be the work of Mikhail Lomonsov during the 18th century. The concept of natural petroleum of this nature continued to be refined during the 19th century through the work of both Russian and French chemists, who began to develop the first abiogenic petroleum theories.


Further development of an abiogenic petroleum theory continued well into the latter part of the 20th century. One of the latest theories includes the concept of the existence of a subterranean biosphere that releases thermophile bacteria into the crust of the planet on a continuing basis. Proponents of abiogenic petroleum often support this theory by calling attention to the presence of biomarkers in petroleum that is extracted from the earth.

Theories regarding the origins of abiogenic petroleum continue to be the source of discussion and controversy in the scientific community. However, the idea of petroleum originating as a fossil fuel as tended to be more commonly accepted and taught in a number of countries around the world.


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