Most geologists believe oil results from chemical transformations of hydrocarbons derived from organisms buried under ancient seas. Suppose, instead, that oil actually results from bacterial action on other complex hydrocarbons that are trapped within the Earth. As is well known, the volume of these hydrocarbons exceeds that of buried organisms. Therefore, our oil reserves would be greater than most geologists believe.
Which of the following, if true, gives the strongest support to the argument above about our oil reserves?
(A) Most geologists think optimistically about the Earths reserves of oil.
(B) Most geologists have performed accurate chemical analyses on previously discovered oil reserves.
(C) Ancient seas are buried within the Earth at many places where fossils are abundant.
(D) The only bacteria yet found in oil reserves could have leaked down drill holes from surface contaminants.
(E) Chemical transformations reduce the volume of buried hydrocarbons derived from organisms by roughly the same proportion as bacterial action reduces the volume of other complex hydrocarbons.
This is a close call between (B) and (E). Our conclusion states that oil reserves would be greater than most geologists believe.
We want to strengthen that claim. Now, first of all. We have that oil reserves > expected.
So for starters, we could use two pieces of evidence to strengthen this relationship.
Let's take a look at B first. We are being told that the current oil reserves are accurate. Therefore if we were to compare them with the new discoveries for bacterial, we could in fact know if the oil reserves would be greater than most scientists believe ONLY IF we could measure the oil reserves from bacterial action accurately, which is not addressed here and this is IMO the thing that makes this answer choice inferior to E.
On the other hand, in E we have that the proportion of oil that could be found from bacterial action measured in volume reduction is similar as that of the buried hydrocarbons. The stimulus already states that there is more volume of complex hydrocarbons than the fossils so given this new piece of information if rates are similar then the oil from this new type of source will be higher. So it is basically saying that there is a good and accurate way to measure these oil reserves. I think this answer choice does a pretty good job in strengthening the argument that oil reserves > expected
So I think E wins this one by a small margin
Hope it helps