Wednesday, June 6, 2007


W. Jerry Koch, PhD, AH

As a petroleum geologist, one of my specialties is evaluating the distribution of oil source rocks, the thermal history of the areas and the probability of discovering economic accumulations of oil and gas.
What we describe as source rocks are accumulations of organic-rich, fine grained sediments through the photosynthesis, deposition and preservation of that organic matter, Hood, et al (1975). This is usually made up of micro-organisms, algae or plant material. NO, dinosaurs are not the source of most of our oil and gas. The Germans call source rocks, erdolmuttergestein, which translates to earth oil mother rock.
To convert the source rock to oil and gas involves what we call metamorphism, as described by Hood, et al (1975), which is basically cooking the rock. Research has shown that time and temperature are the keys to petroleum generation. Connan (1974) states, Chemical kinetic laws indicate that, to obtain a certain conversion, lower temperatures may be compensated by longer times. He has calculated that it takes 11.683 kilocals/mole to 13.794 kilocals/mol for the conversion. There has been much talk in recent years about a larger range of these kinetic factors.
For this paper, the actual numbers are not particularly pertinent. The important things to recognize are that the conversion from source rock to petroleum requires the input of calories and the actual combination of time and temperature can be varied to produce the same results.
In a paper by Meissner and Koch (1979), we discussed a technique for identifying yield and maturity of source rocks using a test-tube over a propane torch. The artificial test-tube-generating process is believed to be similar to that associated with natural time- and temperature-dependent process accompanying rock burial in depositional basins. The technique has been used to map source rock distributions and maturity thresholds in the Pennsylvanian of the western Anadarko Basin.
This brings us to cookie dough. I have eaten raw cookie dough since I was a small boy. This was much to the consternation of my Mother. To discourage me from eating the dough, she claimed the dough would form a ball in my stomach. That was one of the few times she tried to mislead me. At the time, I argued that I was saving electricity by not using the oven.
When referring to Hood et al (1975) I remembered that I periodically ate lunch on the lawn at the Shell Research Lab, in Houston with two of the authors. Once in a while, I bought a roll of cookie dough from the market, next to the lab, and ate it for lunch. Although we talked about cooking source rock I don’t recall talking about baking or not baking cookies.
Cookie dough is similar to source rock, in that, in order to convert the dough to cookies, the instructions are to bake them for a certain time at a certain temperature, Rombauer and Becker, 1975. I have even found that it is possible to cook them faster, if I set the temperature higher. Apparently the cooking requires a distinct amount killocals/mole. Obviously turning cookie dough into cookies is accomplished by adding calories to the dough.
The advantages of eating raw cookie dough, instead of baked cookies, are that it requires less electrical energy, reduces the calories and according to my daughter (a dedicated cookie dough muncher) reduces Global Warming.
Thus, I can justify eating cookie dough for reasons other than it tastes so good. For those of you who enjoy this pleasure, join me and feel content and live guilt free.

J. Connan, 1974, Time-Temperature Relation in Oil Generation, A.A.P.G.Bulletin, p. 2516-2521
A. Hood, C. C. M. Gutjahr and R. L. Heacock, 1975, Organic Metamorphism and the Generation of Petroleum, A.A.P.G. Bulletin, v 59, no. 6, p. 986-996
F. F. Meissner and W. J. Koch, 1979, Test Tube Pyrolysis, a Simple Technique for Identifying Maturity of Source Rocks: Abstract,
A. A. P. G. Annual Convention, 1979, Houston, Texas
I. S. Rombauer and M. R. Becker, 1975, Joy of Cooking, Bobbs- Merrill Co., p. 705


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waterboy said...

Mr. Koch:Regarding your barb to Mr Thomasson,
who is obviously more interested in preserving our planet than you are has better goals in mind.
Your company ,who plays both ends against the middle with water rights in order to make a profit would not hesitate to sell out Elbert county to developers while helping a private citizen protect
his own water right ,for a large $$$$of course.I adjudicated my own for a lot less than you would charge to "help".I feel Elbert county water should remain in Elbert County.
I guess you are right about one thing ,at least in your case, it is about the money. Waterboy