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AAPG Bulletin


AAPG Bulletin, V. 92, No. 5 (May 2008), P. 549556.

Copyright copy2008. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.


A review and technical summary of the AAPG Hedberg Research Conference on ldquoOrigin of petroleummdashBiogenic and/or abiogenic and its significance in hydrocarbon exploration and productionrdquo

Barry Jay Katz,1 Ernest A. Mancini,2 Alexander A. Kitchka3

1Chevron Energy Technology Company, 1500 Louisiana, Houston, Texas 77002; present address: Chevron Texaco, ETC, 4800 Fournace Place, Bellaire, Texas 77401-2324; [email protected]
2Department of Geological Sciences and Center for Sedimentary Basin Studies, P.O. Box 870338, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487; [email protected]
3CASRE IGS, National Academy of Science, 55-B Gonchar St., Kiev 01601, Ukraine; [email protected]


A research conference originally scheduled as a Hedberg Research Conference examining the origins of oil and gas was held in Calgary, June 2005. This report summarizes the 14 presentations made at the conference, which discussed data and evidence regarding the abiogenic and biogenic origins of petroleum. In addition, the postpresentation discussion is summarized. Multiple concepts for the abiogenic formation of petroleum were presented. These concepts fell mostly into two broad families: mantle degassing associated with the polymerization of low molecular weight compounds and serpentization in association with Fischer-Tropsch reactions. The Fischer-Tropsch reactions are catalyzed reactions in which carbon monoxide and hydrogen are converted into hydrocarbons. The presentations on the biogenic origin presented a uniform model in which sedimentary organic matter is thermally converted to oil and gas. Little common ground was found to exist between the abiogenic and biogenic schools of petroleum formation, with the possible exception of the importance of fluid flow in controlling the formation of hydrocarbon accumulations. Although few, if any, conference participants changed their perspectives, most concluded that the meeting was informative and a useful exercise.

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