On the California coast geologic formations contain so much crude oil that it seeps out in quantity and washes onto the beach. In huge amounts.
We might as well use that oil - drill wells and collect it and sell it.
ScienceDaily (May 13, 2009) — Twenty years ago, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez was exiting Alaska's Prince William Sound when it struck a reef in the middle of the night. What happened next is considered one of the nation's worst environmental disasters: 10.8 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the pristine Alaskan waters, eventually covering 11,000 square miles of ocean.
Now, imagine 8 to 80 times the amount of oil spilled in the Exxon Valdez accident.
According to new research by scientists from UC Santa Barbara and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), that's how much oil has made its way into sediments offshore from petroleum seeps near Coal Oil Point in the Santa Barbara Channel. Their research, reported in an article being published in the May 15 issue of Environmental Science & Technology, documents how the oil is released by the seeps, carried to the surface along a meandering plume, and then deposited on the ocean floor in sediments that stretch for miles northwest of Coal Oil Point.
But the oil degrades to be much different.
In addition, the research reveals that the oil is so degraded by the time it gets buried in the sea bed that it's a mere shell of the petroleum that initially bubbles up from the seeps. "These were spectacular findings," said Christopher Reddy, a marine chemist at WHOI and one of the co-authors of the new paper.