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Anhydride Theory

by C. Warren Hunt

The theory presented in this paper is a synthesis of the observable geology of petroleum
occurrences and new information on the ability of microfauna to generate petroleum from
methane. The paradigms of petroleum generation, anhydride theory, conventional diagenesis,
and cosmic or inner earth abiogenesis, are compared as to their relevant geology.

A theory to explain the occurrence of methane and petroleum in these situations can be evolved
from the fact that peat and kerogen comprise molecules in which carbon is partially oxidized. If
there is any slight ionization of these molecules, the carbon form must carry a slight positive
charge. By contrast, the carbon in methane effusing from the highly reduced environment of inner
earth is by definition reduced, and any slight ionization leaves the gas with a slight negative
charge. The negative charges of effusing methane are attracted to the positive charges on peat
and kerogen, and methane is drawn into the molecular fabric. Such methane when found in coal
seams and organic shales is seen to be captured, imported by magnetic attraction, and not
generated from indigenous carbon.

Methane effuses from earth's interior and to varying degrees pervades all crustal terranes,
crystalline, volcanic, and sedimentary. He points out that the energy from this methane can be
utilized by hyperthermophyllic bacteria and archaea, which obtain it by stripping away its
hydrogen. Dehydrogenated methane molecules can be defined as anhydrides, and their
recombinations as petroleum. Anhydrides of this origin are biologically-derived through
dehydrogenation of methane, and thus, are products of biogenesis by living, microbial organisms
rather than biogenesis of fossil biomass (kerogen). Treating coal as the "terminal anhydride"
classifies coalification also as a process of biogenesis by living organisms.

Microorganisms pervade fossil biomass. If it can be shown that they obtain their metabolic
energy from oxidizing hydrogen that they obtain by stripping it from methane, we could view the
stripped products, alkane hydrocarbons as organic in origin but not fossil. The terminal product of
stripped methane, pure carbon, is the main component of the purest coals and asphaltites. 1 .
Bacterially produced alkanes can thus be viewed as products not of the catagenesis of fossil
carbon but of contemporary biogenesis of the carbon that effuses as methane from the interior of
the Earth. The legacies of biodegradation in bacterially produced petroleum and coal would
comprise complex molecular residues such as proteins (porphyrins and others). Such molecules
are found in all petroleum and are frequently advanced as proof for an organic vs. an inorganic
(abiogenic) origin.

Petroleum in anhydride theory may thus be generated either in association with source rocks or
in their absence. Coal may result from the coalification of peat by addition of externally-derived
carbon, or it may be deposited in veins as asphaltite absent any peat. Oil in igneous host rocks
and asphaltite in non-sedimentary terranes attest to the validity of anhydride theory.

Anhydride theory is a paradigm shift that portends serious implications for petroleum discovery
and recoverability from terranes thought heretofore to be barren. It also implies the possibility for
rejuvenation of producing or depleted resources, and thus challenges industry to note reservoir
conditions suggesting rejuvenation, which may be occurring in a producing oil field or may be in
progress in a previously depleted reserve.
Uranium Power Corporation - Anhydride Theory


Methane Effusion from Earth's Interior

Methane effusion from the Earth's interior is a worldwide phenomenon. Hardrock miners and
geologists cope with it; petroleum and coal geologists exploit it. Nevertheless, finding it in
previously unsuspected places still evokes expressions that verge on wonder. For example, in a
recent article on drilling of Indian Ocean crust, Evans (1996) describes "a 0.5 km core of oceanic
crustal layer 3, consisting of gabbroic rocks that underlie mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORB) and
extend down several kilometres to the upper mantle. Surprisingly, CH4 is an abundant volatile
species in fluid inclusions throughout the length of the core, and in some cases the only major

Methane is also abundant in many terranes. The conventional sources in sedimentary rocks need
no elaboration. Methane encapsulated by seawater, as "hydrates" in the sediments on and
immediately below the ocean floors in many places worldwide in volumes comparing with or
exceeding the proven gas reserves in conventional fields. Methane influx into hardrock mines in
continental shields is widespread and a problem for the miners. Quebec and Ontario mines as
well as the Bushveld and Witwatersrand mines are typical in this respect.

Worldwide occurrences of petroleum in basement reservoirs

The Conventional View of Petroleum Generation

Fossil biomass leaves kerogen, an insoluble residue from decayed life forms. Burial then with
optimum temperature and pressure conditions known as an oil window causes catagenesis of
the organic molecules in the kerogen to mature into petroleum. The hydrogen/carbon ratio in peat
and kerogen and the heat liberated on combustion of those partially oxidized carbon forms are
less than in methane and other high gravity hydrocarbons. A source of additional hydrogen and
energy are necessary, and this must come from an outside source if peat or kerogen is to be
completely reduced to methane or high gravity oil. Catagenesis does not comprise such addition.
Neither can it explain the source of methane or petroleum found in crystalline and volcanic
terranes deep under sedimentary cover or where no sedimentary cover exists and hence neither
peat nor fossil kerogen.

Microorganisms and Methane

Stetter et al (1993, 1996) in research on the role of suphur in microbiological processes

discovered that hyperthermophyllic microorganisms occur pervasively in petroleum. Their work
led them to an unexpected result, that hyperthermophillic bacteria and archaea are able to

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"dehydrogenate alkane hydrocarbons up to [carbon number] C20 anaerobically" and to

produce "molecular hydrogen ... in situ ... microbiologically" at temperatures less than 110°C.

It is interesting that microbiological transformation of methane to petroleum has not been

previously advanced as a feasible alternative to biogenesis of fossil biomass, because it has
been widely reported that petroleum has been made from methane in South Africa over the last
half century. The Sasol process is said to be a modification of the Fischer Tropsch process in
which metal catalysts effect partial dissociation of the methane at temperatures of >600°C. The
biological production reported by Stetter et al. Is merely a substitution of organic catalysts, the
enzymes, for the metal catalysts that are used industrially.

The process leading to Stetter et al's. results are seen to arise from the fact that microbiota
require more energy than they can get from either kerogen or peat. As hydrogen can provide that
energy to them and methane is the richest molecular form available to them, they apply unknown
enzymatic processes to strip the methane. The stripping produces fractional molecules that by
their nature are relatively unstable and should combine with each other to give larger alkane and
other hydrocarbon molecules. Carried to conclusion, dehydrogenation yields pure carbon.

Stetter et al. report on microbiota, hyperthermophillic bacteria and archaea, with the relatively low
temperature tolerance level of 110°C. In the Precambrian shield at Ft. McMurray, Alberta, this
corresponds to a depth of 3 600m (12,000 feet). Little research has gone into the
hyperthermophyllic forms until recently, and it is not unlikely that species tolerant of higher
temperatures will be discovered. In any case, the aforesaid depths is near the middle of the zone
in which orthodoxy considers that catagenesis occurs. One must wonder whether it could be
coincidental that the depth of productive oil reservoirs coincides approximately with the
temperature toleration depth of active hyperthermophyllic bacteria and archaea. Such a
coincidence is not inconsistent with the proposition that hyperthermophillic bacteria and archaea
are the agents that generate the petroleum.

Methane from earth's interior infused into a terrane rich in kerogen or peat is a setup for
synergistic conversion of fossil biomass and immigrant methane. Conversion renders their
carbon into petroleum and coal. Neither kerogen nor peat is necessary, however, for the
production of petroleum and coal. Hyperthermophillic bacteria and archaea can do it all. This fact
is abundantly illustrated by the occurrence of petroleum and veins of asphaltite in igneous and
otherwise organically barren rocks worldwide.

Because orthodoxy has not embraced the idea of generation of higher carbon numbered
hydrocarbons from methane in nature or the concept of carbon addition to peat in coalification, let
us review the evolution of thinking that has led to the present stasis.

The History of the "Fossil Fuel" Theory

In antiquity the Greeks named the oil they found in rocks petroleum, "rock oil," to distinguish it
from oil obtained by compressing olives or rendering animal products. To them rock oil was self-
evidently "abiogenic," and coal was "the stone that burns," a simple observable fact - or so it

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19th century theorists, understanding fossils and knowing one could not compress or render rock
to obtain oil, found it easy to assume that oil originated from the only organic source they could
see, fossil biomass. Thus originated the idea of "biogenesis." There was no evident alternative
hypothesis for the origin of petroleum, and the idea of "fossil fuel" was born by default, another
seemingly simple, observed fact.

In the 20th century kerogen was recognized as the fossilized, insoluble organic residue found in
sedimentary rocks, and porphyrins were observed in petroleum and coal as complex, organic
metal-bearing compounds having clear biological origins. These discoveries solidified the
support for the "fossil fuel" concept. In the case of coal, the presence of plant macerals had much
earlier led easily into the idea that coal is merely compressed plant material, another "fossil fuel."
The kerogen, porphyrin, and maceral observations gave the "fossil fuel" interpretation the
appearance of truth despite alternative possible interpretations and inconvenient conflicting data.

Thomas Gold in his book, POWER FROM THE EARTH (Gold, 1987), pointed out the now well
known fact that hydrocarbons are present in meteorites and abundant throughout the solar
system, apparently in habitats where life as we see it on earth is unable to exist. He reasoned that
petroleum must be producible without the help of living organisms, i.e. "abiogenically," another
seemingly simple, observable fact.

Since 1987, mounting evidence from the space and ocean exploration programs and deep
continental drilling are finding life in many habitats that were previously considered hostile. Thus,
kerogen recently reported in a martian meteorite is interpreted by the authors as support for
abiogenesis (Clemett & Zare 1996, Anders, 1996). The choices, life in space or inorganic kerogen, are
both ineluctable contradictions of "fossil fuel" theory.

The initial dismissal of Gold's thesis (often derisive) by most petroleum geoscientists that
followed is more muted today. The dismissal derived first from the fact that petroleum has almost
exclusively been found in sedimentary rocks, secondly, that the ubiquitous "porphyrins" and the
kerogen residues are seen to constitute irrefutable evidence for biological origins, and thirdly,
that the carbon isotope ratios in petroleum are depleted in 13C relative to mantle gas, as
determined from fluid inclusions in diamonds, kimberlites, and carbonatites, resemble the
isotope ratios found in living biological forms (Bromley & Larter, 1986). As fossils have been the
only biologically derived material recognized to be associated with petroleum, the fossil fuel
theory has prevailed and Gold's abiogenesis has lost according to the consensus.

Birth of the "Anhydride Theory"

Today, the tables are turning. This author contributed to the turning in his book, EXPANDING
GEOSPHERES (Hunt et al, 1992) by drawing attention to the fact that petroleum does, in fact,
occur in igneous rocks where no biomass of any kind exists and that Gold's abiogenesis concept
deserved serious attention. In the book he also posed the concept that methane is necessary for
the creation of coal from peat. He did not, however, link coal with petroleum generation or
consider that living biological microflora exist in upper crustal igneous rocks as well as in
sedimentary litholgies and could be involved with generation of petroleum.

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Anhydride theory, born of that linkage in 1996, reverses the author's support for Gold's
abiogenesis and asserts that biogenesis by living microbial forms, as opposed to fossilized
forms, explains all the observable facts of creation, topology, and trace element composition of
terrestrial petroleum and coal. The work of Karl Stetter and associates (Stetter et al, 1993, 1996)
in demonstrating the role of living microorganisms to produce alkane hydrocarbons and hydrogen
from methane by hyperthermophyllic bacteria and archaea was the seed for the theory and a
milestone in organic science. It is a small step from their demonstration to anticipate that such
microorganisms should occur in different assemblages in all crustal rocks with appropriate
temperatures for their survival. Anhydride theory thus does not require preexisting kerogen and
coal macerals for the generation of hydrocarbons or coal.

The ubiquitous porphyrins found in petroleum are explained in Anhydride theory as the remains of
living, as opposed to fossilized, biomass. In this context the porphyrins in petroleum represent
organisms that lived beneath the earth's surface where the oil was generated, rather than on the
surface, as the fossils once did.

It has been pointed out to the writer that the carbon isotope balance in petroleum resembles
surficial living organic (12C-rich) molecules more than mantle (13C-rich) molecules. Fractionation
of mantle methane by selective microbiotic assimilation of 12CH4 from mantle gas could yield
methane with the isotope balance observed in natural petroleum. Whether this occurs is not

Another possibility for transfiguring the isotopes is the theory advanced by Louis Kervran
(Kervran, 1972), which has never received much attention despite its author's many papers
(mostly in French). Kervran reports nuclear division within living floral organisms (yeasts, and
others), in a lifetime of exhaustive research and quantization of the products from the 1950s into
the 1970s. Determining elemental quantities before and after various lifecycles his findings,
which cover many elements, indicate 12C being produced in three transformations: 24Mg -> 212C,
35Cl -> 12C + 23Na, and 2 14N -> 12C + 16O. Kervran considered the first of these, magnesium
atoms splitting into carbon atoms, to be the source of petroleum. "Nature moves particles from
one nucleus to another -- particles such as hydrogen or oxygen nucleii, and in some cases the
nucleii of carbon and lithium. There is thus transmutation... Biological transmutation is a
phenomenon completely different from the atomic fissions or fusions of physics... it reveals a
property of matter not seen prior to this work." (Kervran, L., 1972). The addition of a component
of 12C derived in this manner to biologically assimilated methane heavy in 13C is not inconsistent
with Anhydride Theory.

Today, there is a growing record of petroleum resources in igneous terranes. This implies a much
larger domain in which biogenesis can occur than the previously recognized domain of fossil
biomass. It also implies that, whereas most oil and gas has been found in sedimentary terranes
up to now, these are the terranes where almost all drilling has occurred. Sedimentary rocks still
provide the best entrapment structures, far better than igneous rocks without cover. But igneous
rocks below sedimentary cover may well have enormous potentials.

Oil fields illustrative of resources in crystalline rocks are typified by the White Tiger field offshore
Vietnam. Discovered in the 1970s, this field produces 224,000 barrels per day from a resource
that may be six billion barrels. The wells penetrate the granite surface at about 1 000 metres and

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produce oil from multiple zones of fracturing down to 5 000 metres. The bottom of the oil column
is unknown. The original field pressure has been maintained sufficiently that a resupply process is
suggested. This feature, rejuvenation of depleting reserves, is not suggested only for the White
Tiger field, but also for oil fields that produce from sedimentary rocks with no apparent proximal
"source rocks." Such are the Saudi Arabian fields, where production from fractured carbonates is
experiencing little drawdown from virgin pressures, while indicating huge net increases in
reserves, despite decades of high capacity withdrawals (Mahfoud & Beck, 1995 ).

The Topology of Petroleum

Topology of petroleum resources represents this author's original argument against fossil
biomass as the sole source of petroleum. The argument has two divisions: (1) depth ranges of
petroleum occurrences, and (2) quantitative distribution with respect to reservoir rocks.

The depth ranges aspect is highlighted by the fact that kerogen transforming progressively into
bitumens and thence to higher gravity oils at increasing depths and pressures should have
resulted in prominent resources of black oils and bitumens at generation depths. This is not what
exploration has found. Worldwide, black oils and bitumens are mostly near or at the surface, well
above the supposed generation depths; few resources of black oils and bitumens occur today at
generation depths.

The quantitative distribution aspect is highlighted by the example of western Canada basin
reserves, which draw on an in-place resource base of one or two hundred x109 barrels of
medium and high gravity "conventional" oil. By contrast, a belt some 500 km length and 50 km
width on the northeast edge of the basin contains perhaps 4 x 1012 barrels of bituminous oil. This
belt of black oils occupy shallow, Early Cretaceous reservoirs; the conventional light and medium
oils variously occupy deeper Devonian to Cretaceous reservoirs. Whereas the Cretaceous host
rocks are about the same thickness and presumably more or less the same kerogen content over
the whole area, some mechanism has concentrated 95% of all the oil in the basin into 10% of the
land area and perhaps 5% of the stratigraphic column. Whereas migration can be invoked for
some relocation of petroleum, it bends the mind to try to explain such a great quantitative
anomaly. The relatively horizontal attitude of the strata at the time of migration (Late Cretaceous)
and absence of clear migration paths make migration implausible for high viscosity black oils
and bitumens. Loss of light ends (90%?) leads to an absurd initial infusion (40 x 1012 barrels). All
concepts for concentration of 90% of the oils generated from fossilized biomass in the western
Canada basin into 10% of its area appear unreasonable in these lights.

The topology of petroleum occurrences also can be raised in opposition to the Gold view of
abiogenesis. That scenario predicts that petroleum created from inner earth methane by
pressure and temperature migrates upward from deeper levels. If true, the ratio of gas to oil
should increase with the assent to the surface, because gas is far more mobile than oil. And there
should be no upward decrease of the ratio at any stage, because gas should always outpace
migrating oil in the system.

Thus, Gold's theory should give the result that gas would predominate at shallower depths, while
oil should lag at deeper levels. Needless to say, observed conditions are precisely opposite.

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Petroleum geologists know that there is no significant oil found below about six km, that gas is
more abundant than oil at four to five km depths, and black oils occur at shallow levels or at the

Coal Seam Methane

Methane in coalbeds has been regarded as largely an evolutionary product from coalified peat,
and thus biogenic. The possibility that much methane could result by infusion into the peat and its
antecedent coal from external sources has not been given much credence despite some
compelling arguments. Let us consider the evidence for infusion.

1. The ash from coal, which is predominantly silica, alumina, oxides of calcium and
magnesium, and lesser amounts of water-soluble metal oxides, when compared with the
carbon in the coal is often much less than in the supposed precedent vegetation. Where
plant ash is normally 8-15% of dry plant weight in the writer's experience, individual coal
beds often have only 3% or even as little as 1% ash. Implicitly, the overabundance of carbon
in coal compared with the precedent plants suggests that carbon has been concentrated or
added from an external source. The addition of carbon as coal or as methane within the
coal explains the increase of thermal value in the transition from peat to coal.
2. Trace metals such as gold, silver, copper, nickel, etc., that are foreign to the vegetation
before coalification, vary widely among various coals without relation to former subcrop
grades, and often at levels far above the levels in present-day vegetation. Metals of this
kind could be introduced as metal hydrides accompanying methane and deposit as native
or oxidized mineral forms or metabolize as organometallic complexes in microbiota. In any
case, they must be regarded as additions in the coalification process.
3. Most coal measures have no fossilized regolith below them that would represent the soil
horizon in which the original peat-contributing vegetation was rooted. This suggests that the
carbon present volume is far greater than in the original peat or that the final depositional
locality of a coal may differ from the site where the precedent plant life grew.
4. Oxidation of peat in situ releases methane along with carbon dioxide. It does not generate
petroleum; and oxidation would, in fact, preclude coalification. Thus, further oxidation is not
what has happened in the process of coalification. Instead, reduction has led to
coalification and, because coal represents more carbon than was present in the original
peat, the methane found in coal seams is logically its source. It must be mainly from an
external source. Enhancement of calorific values by reduction of peat, an impossibility in an
oxidizing regime, demonstrates the fact that reduction has taken place. Let us consider the
process of reduction of peat.

Peat contains oxidized organic molecules, i.e. their carbon has given up electrons (C++++) to
oxygen or other oxidants. Mantle methane contains reduced organic carbon, i.e. its carbon has
received electrons (C----) from hydrogen. In peat the oppositely-charged forms attract one
another and result in deposition of neutral, elemental carbon as coal. The behavior of coal to sorb
both methane and carbon dioxide is a function of this attraction. Neutral coal is relatively oxidized
compared with methane and relatively reduced with respect to carbon dioxide, while being
neutral to gases like nitrogen. This relationship shows in the coal adsorption behavior of carbon
dioxide, methane, and nitrogen, which occurs in the approximate ratio of 4:2:1 (Stevenson et al,
1991). The affinity of coal to methane is strong: so strong that easily five times as much methane

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can be adsorbed by coal as a conventional sedimentary reservoir can contain with comparable
thickness, pressure, and temperature (Gunter et al, 1996). From the foregoing sorption ratio it
follows that ten times as much carbon dioxide can be so adsorbed over that which could be
accumulated in normal reservoir porosity.

Metals in Petroleum and Coal

Metal contents of petroleum and coal are particularly problematical to explain within existing
theories. For example, the Firebag coal deposit of northeastern Alberta is laterally contiguous
with the Cretaceous Athabasca bituminous sands, which contain over 2 x 1012 barrels of
bitumens in the contiguous area. The 900 million ton coal deposit is a shoreline replacement of
the estuarine, now-bituminous sands, which interfinger northeastward into it and overlap it.
Paleozoic carbonates that underlie the sand/coal horizon are not known to be mineralized. Thus,
in the Athabasca bituminous sands and Firebag coal metals not normally present in either oil or
coal beyond trace amounts occur abundantly.

Trace metal contents of the petroleum fraction of the Early Cretaceous Athabasca bituminous
sands are elevated far above the values found in Cretaceous oils to the southwest in the basin.
The enhancements of particular metals in the Syncrude bitumens mine some thirty miles to the
west of the Firebag site are shown in the following table (Hitchon, & Filby, 1983):


Metals in Syncrude Oil, Ft. McMurray, Alberta

Comparative Metal Contents of Mannville Group Oils
Data source: ALBERTA CRUDE OILS, Hitchon, B, and Filby, R.H.,
OFR 1983-02, Alberta Research Council (all values are ppm)
Metal Alberta plains oil Ft. McMurray oil Enhancement
----- ------------------ ---------------- -----------
Na 0.32 40.33 126 x
Fe 0.50 141.7 283 x
254 508 x
Mn n.a. 3.853
Ni 0.80 74.11 93 x
71.88 90 x
Cr n.a. 1.014
Co 0.00125 1.349 1079 x
1.998 1598 x
As 0.00417 0.4003 96 x
0.3209 77 x
Se n.a. 0.1907
Cs 0.00036 0.0259 72 x
0.0685 190 x
V 1.107 176.5 159 x
Eu 0.000091 0.009 99 x
Au n.a. 0.001316
Ga n.a. 315
Weighted average enhancement

By comparison, some data is available for a coal deposit that is stratigraphically equivalent and
immediately northeast of the Athabasca bituminous sands. The few metals shown are super-
enhanced in the coal by comparison with the oil. All values are ppm.

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Metal Firebag Coal Ft. McMurray Coal : Oil
---- ------------ ------------ ----------
Au 1.04 0.001316 790 x
Ag 0.90 n.a. n.a.
Cu 34 n.a. n.a.
Pb 9 n.a. n.a.
Zn 15 n.a. n.a.
Co 35 1.349 25.9 x
1.998 17.5 x
Cr 398 1.014 392.5 x
1.682 236.6 x

Average super-enhancement
of coal with respect to oil ...... ~
375 x

Plant uptake of metals from water where the water has passed through metal ores can
impregnate plant ash to levels such as these. But where there is little metal in the rocks, such
enhancement is not found. No metal resources are known below either the bituminous sands or
the Firebag coal. A better explanation for the metals is that they arrived as hydrides along with
methane that made petroleum generation and degradation possible and promoted coalification
of peat deposits marginal to the estuarine sands that now contain the oil. Metal hydrides are
volatile and would be stable in the reducing environment of effusing methane, but oxidized so as
to deposit native metals, oxides, or sulphides when they entered a peat bed in the process of


It seems clear to this author from the foregoing that an external agency capable of supplying
carbon, hydrogen, energy, and metals has been at work in the generation of the world's petroleum
and coal deposits.

Anhydride theory supports the proposition that the carbon forms comprising peat and kerogen
are partially oxidized and hence carry a slight positive charge, whereas the carbon in methane
from earth's highly reduced interior environment carries a negative charge, that methane has
been drawn into peat or kerogen and once there, has given the misleading impression that it
originated there, that microorganisms, which pervade the shallow crust and all fossil biomass, are
demonstrably able to strip hydrogen progressively from the abundant methane that effuses from
earth's interior and thus to provide the partial molecules that can recombine to form longer-chain
hydrocarbons,2 and that the end of the process is terminal carbon, either in the form of coal or

In conclusion it can be said that Gold's abiogenesis as well as orthodox diagenetic biogenesis
as explanations for the origin of petroleum are parlous theories that fail to fit the facts.. Only
anhydride theory adequately explains the geological distribution of methane, high gravity oils,
black oils, and their contained porphyrins, ash, and metals that are found in igneous rocks as
well as sedimentary rocks. Only Anhydride theory allows for rejuvenation of depleting and
depleted oil and gas fields, processes that may be happening in our time.

Peat burial and its coalification under the pressures and temperatures of depth fail to explain
the carbon enrichment, the metal content, the absence of a growth substrate (soil) below most

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coal bodies, or the incremental energy content of coal, above the energy of peat. As in the
case of petroleum, only Anhydride Theory accommodates observed data. Observation
therefore leads to some permissible deductions:

1. Petroleum produced by dehydrogenation of methane can be interpreted as a "mixture of

anhydrides," and hence, to constitute a biogenic, renewable fuel, not a "fossil fuel."
2. Coal in varying degrees can be interpreted as a mixture of peat macerals and terminally
dehydrogenated methane. Coal, like petroleum, should then be considered a biogenic,
renewable resource, not a "fossil fuel."
3. Porphyrins and metals that occur in petroleum and coal as well as their carbon isotope
ratios can be interpreted as the residues from living, not fossilized, microbial metabolisms
that produced the petroleum and coal.
4. Assignments of "ages" to oil or coal should be understood as the times when the
microbiotas generated the oil or coal, not the age of the host rock, which may be much
older in the case of coal or either younger or older in the case of petroleum.
5. "Typing" of oil based on the residues from an originating microbiota cannot be taken to
demonstrate an originating "source rock," but only the spectrum of microbiotas that acted
on the petroleum during its post-generational migration.
6. Peat and kerogen may or may not have been involved as precedents in the sites where
coal and petroleum were generated. In some cases microbiological agents have acted on
methane to create petroleum and coal in igneous rocks (Hunt, 1992).


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GOLD, THOMAS, 1987. Power from the earth, Dent & Sons, London
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