Nutrimento & nutriMENTE

New theory predicts location of oil and gas reserves

By Redazione

Researchers at the University of Stavanger, Norway, have discovered that 90% of the world’s oil and gas reserves are to be found in the ‘Golden Zone’, an underground area where temperatures
range between 60°C and 120°C.

The theory of the ‘Golden Zone’ was developed over a decade by the Dean of the Faculty of Technology and Science at the University of Stavanger, Per Arne
Bjørkum, along with Paul Nadeau and Olav Walderhaug at Statoil. It could prove an important tool for geologists in their exploration of oil and
gas reserves.

Tested and verified against a global database of 120,000 oil fields under production, the theory suggests that the work of energy companies could become easier in the future if they concentrate
their resources on exploring at the temperature range of 60°C and 120°C. Outside this range, and particularly above 120°C, the chances of finding oil and gas are much slimmer, say
the scientists.

In addition, the Golden Zone can be found at different depths, depending on the temperatures found in the so-called cold and warm reservoirs. So on the Norwegian continental shelf for example,
the zone is located in a cold reservoir located at depths ranging from two to four kilometres, while in other reservoirs it may be found somewhere between one and two kilometres.

The fact that oil and gas coexist within the same temperature zone is a new discovery. It was previously believed that gas was formed at higher temperatures than oil.

Dr Bjørkum explains that there is also a good deal of oil in sediments of temperatures lower than 60 °C , but the oil there is heavier and
of poorer quality. This means that if the high price of oil leads to companies producing more heavy oil, the oil industry’s damage to the environment could increase further: burning heavy oil
creates more pollution than burning the standard lighter oil.

However, as current predictions suggest that there is enough coal in the world to last for several hundred years, Dr Bjørkum believes the
greatest priority should be to find an efficient and environmentally friendly way of producing oil and gas from coal.

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