How Was Oil Discovered – USGS Announces Largest Estimated U.S. Oil and Gas Reserves: Two Ways The agency says Texas’ Wolfcamp shale contains 20 billion barrels of oil and 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas recoverable through hydraulic fracturing. and other methods. .
The landscape on the edge of Midland, an oil town in West Texas, is dotted with cranes. Ilana Panich-Linsman for closed captioning
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The US Geological Survey says the West Texas deposit is the largest oil and gas deposit ever discovered in the United States.
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On Tuesday, the USGS announced that the area known as the Wolfcamp shale contains 20 billion barrels of oil and 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
That’s nearly three times more oil than the agency found in North Dakota’s Bakken shale in 2013.
Jeff Brady reports that the amount of oil in the Wolfcamp shale formation is nearly three times the amount of petroleum products used by the entire country in a year.
The USGS says all 20 billion barrels of oil are “technically recoverable,” meaning that the oil can be brought to the surface “using currently available technologies and industrial processes.”
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“The Texas discovery is in a location that has previously been drilled using conventional methods,” Jeff told the Newscast’s Unit. “But now that oil companies are using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — they can gain access to previously inaccessible reserves.”
“Changes in technology and industry practices can have a significant impact on technically renewable resources, which is why we continue to assess resources in the United States and around the world,” said Walter Guidroz, program coordinator for the USGS Energy Resources Program. In a USGS statement.
Even in an area that has produced a billion barrels of oil, it is still possible to find billions more,” he said.
A complete oil and gas assessment is available here. The map shows six distinct zones named after the depth of the oil industry that make up the Wolfcamp shale.
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Map of the Wolfcamp Shale Formation. The red line represents the boundary of the Permian Basin province; The rest of the thick colored line represents the area of newly discovered oil at various depths. Hide caption US Department of the Interior National Park Service
Map of the Wolfcamp Shale Formation. The red line represents the boundary of the Permian Basin province; The rest of the thick colored line represents the area of newly discovered oil at various depths.
Private companies have decided to extract the oil, which according to Bloomberg News is worth $900 billion at current prices.
Pelopor Sumberdaya Natural, which owns 785,000 hectares of mining rights in the Wolfcamp area, said on its website that it ended existing vertical drilling operations in 2015 in favor of developing more horizontal wells in the Wolfcamp shale.
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“ConocoPhillips, the world’s largest independent oil producer by market value, last November 10 raised its estimate of the size of Wolfcamp Holdings to 1 billion barrels. The day before, Concho Resources CEO Timothy Leach told investors and analysts that two new wells had been drilled at Wolfcamp, that they were pumping an average of 2,000 barrels per day.
The economic implications of extracting oil and gas from the Wolfcamp shale could be huge. In North Dakota, the shale oil boom has transformed the landscape and economy in recent years, attracting thousands of workers and helping lower oil prices.
In some cases, cities that grew rapidly when the Bakken shale began producing oil are now facing significant revenue shortfalls as oil prices fall, we reported. The drop in prices hurt Midland, Texas, which is surrounded by oil fields and sits in the middle of the Wolfcamp shale region.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, the US has produced more oil and natural gas than any other country every year since 2012.
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The production and use of newly discovered oil and gas will also contribute to climate change, as oil and gas emit greenhouse gases when extracted and burned using current technologies. The United States pledged to financially reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 as part of the Paris Climate Agreement, which came into force earlier this month.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify that the USGS did not initially find the Wolfcamp shale formation and that the announcement was based on an assessment of the size of the oil and gas deposit. An oil discovery in North Dakota, near an oil well on Clarence Iverson’s Tioga Field Farm. Courtesy, North Dakota State Historical Society, William E. Shemory Photographic Collection
It was an early afternoon in April 1951 when Bill Shemory, managing editor of the Williston Press-Graphic, got a call from his editor. North Dakota just changed forever.
For several months, Amerada Petroleum Corp. According to one claim, the well produced half a liter of uncontaminated oil by January – no mud or water – but has yet to produce anything significant. Iverson’s son Cliff recalled in a 2008 interview with the Associated Press that his father didn’t mind that oil-hungry company men detonated dynamite on his farm.
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But on April 4, Shemorry got into his car and headed like a moth to a fire into a huge fire burning North Dakota’s first productive oil well — the first of thousands to come. change the landscape of the west and the future of the country.
“I got to the south side of Tioga. A gravel road led to a well,” Shermorry recalled in his 1991 book, “Mud, Sweat and Oil,” about the beginning of the oil era. Although he was still 3.5 miles from the lighthouse, it was as clear as daylight, he wrote. – where he thought for a moment that he would have to go over another hill.
Shemory wanted to go closer. He waded into a puddle of slush in his ‘boots’, wondering if the roar of flares and flashing lights would explode the entire facility – a skeleton of steel bones towering over the menacing lights.
“The light was so bright that I didn’t worry about getting a good picture,” he said later. “I can easily read all the aperture and shutter settings on my 4×5 speed chart.”
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In October 1953, a North Dakota oil discovery memorial was erected near the discovery site on Clarence Iverson’s farm in the Tioga area. Courtesy, North Dakota State Historical Society, William E. Shemory Photographic Collection
He remembers firing “a dozen shots” and as he walked back to his car, water began to seep into his shoes. He went to Minot to get his pictures developed and ready for printing, and one of the pictures he wanted started traveling around the world – from Fargo to the Life Forum to the US. News and World Reports magazine.
Amerada Petroleum executives pose with a famous photo from 1951 of the site where economically viable oil was discovered in North Dakota. Courtesy, North Dakota State Historical Society, William E. Shemory Photographic Collection
A few months later, Shemory recalled, a Dallas oil speculator wanted his own version of the picture, as well as a short trip north. Shemory tried but couldn’t see the image in the dark. The flames — close to the size of the Clarence Iverson farm fire — weren’t bright enough. Nothing compared to the scary, scary cloud of fire he saw in April.
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To say that oil changed North Dakota would be an understatement. That, in a word, remade – not only the political and financial structure of the state, but literally reshaped its western extent, which brought with it a lot of people and construction industry.
This is the fourth story in a series examining North Dakota history from Forum News Service and the North Dakota Newspaper Association Educational Foundation. What constitutes the moment we live in today? And what does our history tell us about our future?
Former state geologist John P. Bluemle recalled the early oil years in a 2001 pamphlet commemorating the 50th anniversary of an April night on the Iverson farm. The first natural gas was discovered in 1892 from Jamestown to Merricourt, and oil wells were drilled in the 1910s, but not many. Blueml noted that a well was drilled in Ward County in 1915 just a few miles from where it might have been successful, and that oil wells would be installed decades later.
But in oil – as in many other things – losing a mile is as good as losing 20. Nothing.
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