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DOE-Supported Publication Boosts Search for Oil, Natural Gas by Petroleum Operators

May 18, 2009 - 1:00pm


Washington, DC - A comprehensive publication detailing the oil-rich fields of Utah and nearby states, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), can now provide petroleum companies and related service providers with the geologic, geographic, and engineering data needed to tap into these resources.

The Utah Geologic Survey (UGS), with funding support from the Office of Fossil Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory, recently updated and released a portfolio of oil plays in Utah, as well as neighboring Colorado and Wyoming. Oil plays in this tri-state area are defined as those geographic areas that show potential for petroleum production because they demonstrate certain characteristics, such as favorable source rock, migration paths, reservoir characteristics, and other factors. The portfolio is available on CD through the NETL CD-DVD ordering system.

This UGS portfolio is important to the nation's energy security because the Utah oilfields alone hold more than 250 million barrels of petroleum reserves. The portfolio can significantly assist petroleum operators in planning exploration, land acquisition strategies, and field development, as well as help pipeline companies plan future facilities and pipeline construction. Other potential users include landowners, bankers, investors, economists, utility companies, manufacturers, and government agencies.

"Through funding from the Office of Fossil Energy's Oil and Natural Gas Program, the Utah Geologic Survey has provided an invaluable tool to assist numerous organizations interested in oil and gas exploration," said Dr. Victor Der, Acting Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy. "With the vast reserves of oil identified in that tri-state area, the portfolio can go a long way toward providing the nation with additional energy sources."

The portfolio contains comprehensive maps that provide data useful to organizations involved in petroleum exploration and production. The data include geologic settings, outcrop analogs, land-use issues, and best-development practices for each oil-producing area within the three states. The current portfolio builds on previous versions that had identified 10 oil plays and 13 subplays, including the Paradox Basis, the Uinta Basin, and the Utah thrust belt, as well as a new, major discovery, the Covenant field.

Historically, these areas have produced more than 1.3 billion barrels of oil. Although the 13.7 million barrels produced in 2002 marked a low point over the past 40 years, and a steady decline in production, the discovery of the Covenant field in 2005 reversed that decline.

Small, independent operators who do not have full exploratory resources would particularly benefit from the data generated by UGS's portfolio.

The ultimate benefits derived from the release of the portfolio are expected to include new oilfield discoveries, increased recoverable oil from existing fields, prevention of premature abandonment of small fields, identification of the newest drilling and recovery techniques, widespread use of best practices of each of the oil producing provinces, and reduction in development costs and risks.