Re-Assessing Alaska’s Energy Frontier

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The new USGS assessment estimates 8.7 billion barrels of oil and 25 trillion cubic feet of healthy gas resources. This is a some-more than sixfold boost from a prior USGS estimates in a region, that embody tools of a 2005 Central North Slope comment and a 2010 NPR-A assessment.

This map shows a comment units of a USGS comment of a National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and adjacent state and Tribal lands and waters. Illustration by Public domain.

Driven by Discoveries

The USGS preference to reassess a NPR-A came after several attention announcements of intensity vast discoveries in a area, most incomparable than formerly thought. The Pikka and Horseshoe oil discoveries nearby a Colville River delta only outward NPR-A were announced in 2015 and 2017. Industry announcements advise that a dual discoveries 21 miles detached expected are in a same oil pool, that might reason some-more than 1 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

“Advances in record and a bargain of petroleum geology are constantly relocating forward,” pronounced Walter Guidroz, module coordinator of a USGS Energy Resources Program. “That’s given a USGS re-evaluates and updates a assessments, to give decision-makers a best accessible scholarship to conduct a healthy resources.”

Industry announced a find of a Willow oil pool in a Nanushuk Formation in NPR-A in 2017 with estimated resources of some-more than 300 million barrels of oil. Multiple wells have been announced to be drilled during a 2017-2018 winter drilling deteriorate during both Pikka-Horseshoe and Willow to serve delineate these discoveries.

Industry announced an oil find in a deeper Torok Formation during Smith Bay, reduction than one mile offshore from NPR-A, in 2016 to reason some-more than 1 billion barrels of oil. Another oil find in a Torok Formation was announced in 2015 during a Cassin awaiting in NPR-A, not distant from a Willow discovery. No skeleton for additional attention drilling have nonetheless been announced during possibly Smith Bay or Cassin.

Permafrost forms a grid-like settlement in a National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a 22.8 million hactare segment managed by a Bureau of Land Management on Alaska’s North Slope. USGS has intermittently assessed oil and gas apparatus intensity there. These assessments can be found here. Image credit: David Houseknecht, USGS. Public domain.

Uncertainty during a Frontier’s Edge

Although a USGS has a operation of intensity for a new estimates of oil and gas resources, there is poignant doubt with these values. Until serve wells are drilled and oil prolongation is initiated, it is formidable to be certain about a apparatus potential. Nevertheless, a sufficient volume of information is accessible to endorse that a intensity distance of oil pools in a Nanushuk and Torok Formations is 6 times incomparable than formerly thought.

Prior to 2015, about 150 scrutiny wells had penetrated a Nanushuk and Torok Formations, and oil discoveries were singular to a few tiny oil pools (less than 10 million barrels) in stratigraphic traps and one incomparable oil pool (more than 70 million barrels) in a constructional trap.

The new USGS comment of a Nanushuk and Torok Formations estimated that oil and gas resources are not regularly distributed opposite a region, and divided any arrangement into 3 comment units. These comment units were tangible formed on geological impression documented regulating information from seismic-reflection surveys, scrutiny wells, and outcrops.

This comment did not embody rocks comparison than a Torok Formation in NPR-A given those rocks have not been penetrated by scrutiny drilling given formerly assessed in 2010, and so no new information is accessible about their oil and gas potential. The 2010 comment of those comparison rocks in NPR-A estimated that they reason 86 million barrels of oil and scarcely 15 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Start with Science

USGS assessments are for undiscovered, technically recoverable resources. Undiscovered resources are those that are estimated to exist formed on geologic believe and theory, while technically recoverable resources are those that can be constructed regulating now accessible record and attention practices.

These assessments of oil and gas resources follow a publicly available, peer-reviewed methodology that is used for all USGS required apparatus assessments. That allows apparatus managers, decision-makers and others to make apples-to-apples comparisons opposite all of a Nation’s petroleum-producing basins. In addition, USGS intermittently reassesses basins to safeguard that a latest trends in attention production, new discoveries, or updates in a bargain of a geology are reflected in a USGS apparatus estimates.

Source: USGS

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