The Never-Ending Shale Revolution That Keep On Giving
On Tuesday, the USGS announced that a swath of West Texas known as the Wolfcamp shale contains 20 billion barrels of oil and 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
That is nearly three times more petroleum than the agency found in North Dakota’s Bakken shale in 2013.
As NPR’s Jeff Brady reported, 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 the oil could be brought to the surface “using currently available technology and industry practices.”
“The Texas discovery is in a place that has been drilled before by conventional methods,” Jeff reported for NPR’s Newscast Unit. “But now that oil companies use horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — they can access reserves that previously were out of reach.”
“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,” said Walter Guidroz, a program coordinator for the USGS Energy Resources Program, in the USGS statement.
“Even in areas that have produced billions of barrels of oil, there is still the potential to find billions more,” he said.
The complete oil and gas assessment is publicly available here. A map shows the six separately assessed regions, designated according to depth by the petroleum industry, that make up the Wolfcamp shale.
For those who might be wondering, the estimate for the Wolfcamp Shale is almost 19 times larger than the USGS estimate of continuous oil in place for the Eagle Ford Shale, released in 2012. To put the magnitude of this estimate for the Wolfcamp Shale into further context, the Prudhoe Bay formation on the North Slope of Alaska, to date the largest producing oil field ever discovered in North America, has produced just over 12 billion barrels oil over the past 43 years. The largest producing oil field ever discovered in the Lower 48 states of the U.S., the East Texas Field, has to date produced just over 7 billion barrels since the early 1930s. –David Blackmon, Forbes, 15 November 2016
Surplus LNG volumes, supplemented by new production in the US, Australia, Canada and East Africa, “will create the catalyst for a second natural-gas revolution, with far-reaching implications for gas pricing and contracts” – so says the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its latest World Energy Outlook, unveiled at a Westminster, central London press conference this morning. –Arthur Fields, Highbury Clock, 17 November 2016
h/t to Dr. Benny Peiser at The GWPF