Did you know that geologists don't have a decent explanation for where oil comes from? This should make you think twice about all those estimates about how we're running out of the stuff.
Geologists do have a good explanation of where coal comes from - its decayed, buried plant matter.
Unfortunately, most people think this story works for oil too. It doesn't.
Here's a basic description of a little organic chemistry. Plants are mostly made of sugars. Sugars are mostly composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in a 1:2:1 ratio. When plants decay, those sugars break down into carbon and water (which has the right 2:1 ratio). In a perfect world, no elements are lost in this simple description, and nothing is created that we have trouble explaining. The problem with oil is that it is composed of lots of molecules in a ratio of 1 carbon to 2 hydrogens, with 2 extra hydrogens thrown in at the end (for example, natural gas is mostly 1 carbon and 4 hydrogen, while gasoline is mostly 8 carbons and 18 hydrogens). So, there are two problems with the plants into oil idea. First, where did the oxygen from the plants go? If this is how oil was created, oxygen would be pouring out of the humus. It isn't. Second, where do the two extra hydrogen come from? Hydrogen is the most common element in the Earth, so there are a lot of potential sources. However, hydrogen is always tightly bound up with some other element - so in order to get the extra hydrogen to make oil, there have to be lots chemicals in the Earth's crust that are short hydrogen. There aren't.
An alternative theory that I heard about almost 20 years ago is that either there are huge pools of oil under the crust of the Earth, or alternatively, that something is making oil down there. Like bacteria that like hot oxygen-poor environments. This is called the abiotic theory of oil formation. It was thought up by Russian scientists in the 1950's ... when Russian science was in its heydey.
Update: Bruce Bartlett and The Washington Times catch up with voluntaryXchange after 11 months.