Tech revolution has been a game changer in technically recoverable oil and gas

The Bossier and Haynesville Formations of the onshore and State waters portion of the U.S. Gulf Coast contain estimated means of 4.0 billion barrels of oil, 304.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 1.9 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, according to updated assessments by the U.S. Geological Survey. These estimates, the largest continuous natural gas assessment USGS has yet conducted, include petroleum in both conventional and continuous accumulations, and consist of undiscovered, technically recoverable resources.

The Bossier and Haynesville Formations lie within the Gulf Coast Basin, which extends from the Texas-Mexico border in the west to the Florida Panhandle in the east. The Bossier Formation is estimated to contain means of 2.9 billion barrels of oil, 108.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 1.0 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, while the Haynesville Formation is estimated to contain a mean of 1.1 billion barrels of oil, 195.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 0.9 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.

“As the USGS revisits many of the oil and gas basins of the United States, we continually find that technological revolutions of the past few years have truly been a game-changer in the amount of resources that are now technically recoverable,” said Walter Guidroz, Program Coordinator of the USGS Energy Resources Program. “Changes in technology and industry practices, combined with an increased understanding of the regional geologic framework, can have a significant effect on what resources become technically recoverable. These changes are why the USGS remains committed to performing the most up-to-date assessments of these vital resources throughout the United States and the world.”

Prior to this report, the USGS assessed the Bossier and Haynesville Formations in a 2010 assessment of Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks of the Gulf Coast. At that time, the Bossier was estimated to contain a mean of 9.0 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, while the Haynesville was estimated to contain 61.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

“It’s amazing what a little more knowledge can yield,” said USGS scientist Stan Paxton, lead author of the assessment. “Since the 2010 assessment, we’ve gotten updated geologic maps, expanded production history and have a greater understanding of how these reservoirs evolved. All of that leads to a better geological model and therefore a more robust assessment.”

Wolfcamp 2016 assessment

Wolfcamp is the largest estimate of continuous oil that USGS has ever assessed in the United States.

The Wolfcamp shale in the Midland Basin portion of Texas’ Permian Basin province contains an estimated mean of 20 billion barrels of oil, 16 trillion cubic feet of associated natural gas, and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, according to an assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey. This estimate is for continuous (unconventional) oil, and consists of undiscovered, technically recoverable resources.

The estimate of continuous oil in the Midland Basin Wolfcamp shale assessment is nearly three times larger than that of the 2013 USGS Bakken-Three Forks resource assessment, making this the largest estimated continuous oil accumulation that USGS has assessed in the United States to date.

“The fact that this is the largest assessment of continuous oil we have ever done just goes to show that, even in areas that have produced billions of barrels of oil, there is still the potential to find billions more,” said Walter Guidroz, program coordinator for the USGS Energy Resources Program. “Changes in technology and industry practices can have significant effects on what resources are technically recoverable, and that’s why we continue to perform resource assessments throughout the United States and the world.”

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