As we get better and better at space exploration, the idea of looking for natural resources outside our planets becomes more realistic every day. Aerospace companies are already talking about mining asteroids or building bases on the Moon to extract resources. But how about that natural resource that we use the most (besides water and air)? Of course, we are talking about oil.
The world consumes about 97 million barrels of oil per day. We use it in everything, from propelling our vehicles to heating our homes to manufacturing all of our technology. It is our main energy source and even though we are (very) slowly trying to switch away from it to more sustainable options, we still need a lot.
The geographical distribution of oil on Earth is not equal. There is a lot of it in some countries while others have almost none of it. It has been a deciding factor in the economic inequality of certain regions.
So wouldn’t it be good if could find a source of oil somewhere else? perhaps on the Moon?
Before we dive into that question, let’s take a step what.
Where does oil come from?
Crude oil, or petroleum as it is also called, is located in underground reservoirs within sedimentary rocks. It is found in liquid form alongside natural gas and saline water.
Oil is made up of hydrocarbons, which, as their name suggests are basically atoms of hydrogen and carbon clumped together. It is also sometimes referred to as a fossil fuel because it comes from the remains of dead organisms and can take millions of years to form, and as such, it is not easily replaceable. This is why some people jokingly call it “dinosaur juice”.
With that in mind, you might already be able to guess the answer to our main question.
Is there oil on the moon?
The short answer is no. There is almost zero probability of oil existing on the moon. It would have never formed because as far as we know, there has never been life on the Moon. With no biological activity, crude oil cannot form. Or at least that’s what most scientists believe.
That being said, there could be a minuscule chance of oil forming without biological activity. Some scientists believe that oil could theoretically form abiogenically (without life) by carbon being trapped deep underground. This hypothesis isn’t widely supported, however, we have found certain hydrocarbons (ethane and methane) beyond Earth in places that show no signs of life. So, while the probability of finding oil on the Moon would be extremely small, there is still much we don’t know about the universe and who knows, it might surprise us.
Related: Is there gold on the Moon?
Carbon planets are a theoretical type of planet that could have been formed in a different planetary system where the ratio of carbon to oxygen was different from our own.
These planets wouldn’t have any water as the oxygen content would be too low, but instead, they would have oceans full of oil that could (again, theoretically) form under these conditions. Carbon planets could also have thick layers of kilometers made up of pure diamonds.
The possibility of finding oil outside our planet exists but at the moment, given our understanding of how crude oil forms, it is very low, at least in our Solar system.
- There is no oil on the Moon as far as we know
- Oil forms out of the remnants of living organisms. Since there is no life on the Moon that we know of, oil couldn’t have formed
- There is a small possibility that oil could form without the prerequisite of life, but it is very low