Exploring Hydrocarbon Depletion
Page added on October 13, 2012
Continental Resources Inc. unveiled its newest oil field with a reservoir rock of an oil-rich portion of the Woodford Shale that lies beneath oil fields tapped long ago by some of the state’s biggest oil names, including Phillips Petroleum, Noble, Hefner and Skelly Oil.
The Woodford Shale Located in Oklahoma
The new field is in an area of southern Oklahoma that has produced some of the state’s richest discoveries. The South Central Oklahoma Oil Province, that Continental is calling ‘SCOOP’, covers much of four counties in south central Oklahoma and is within the famed Anadarko Basin. The first oil was found in the area more than 100 years ago.
Petroleum Basins of the Central US. Click image for the largest view.
Jack Stark, Continental’s senior vice president of exploration said, “It’s a huge opportunity for the company and another great asset for us because we’re looking at an asset with rates of return that compete head-to-head with what we’re doing in the Bakken” in North Dakota and Montana.”
What stands out about the discovery is its thought to be huge. The company reports it may have found 1.8 billion barrels of oil equivalent.
Stark explains in part how the discovery was made, “Technology transfer is a huge part of this business right now. We’re accessing what were once considered just source rock. To be able to do that takes technology. Anything we learn on one resource play can be transferred to the next play. There’s always some adjustment here and there, but the bottom line is the technology we have perfected in the Bakken is directly transferable to what we’re doing here in the Woodford.”
This new discovery announcement shouldn’t be taken lightly. Continental is the largest producer, driller and leaseholder in the new Bakken field. The company produced 22.2 million barrels of oil over the past year, has 576 net wells in the region and has identified at least 4,000 potential wells.
For observers the key is Stark’s comment, “We’re accessing what were once considered just source rock.”. Many oil reservoirs are pooled from seeps out of source rock where the oil formed. Pooled reservoirs are not the whole of the reserve, but only the easily accessed and freest flowing of the petroleum.
We’re still learning about subsurface oil and gas. The amounts of oil and gas to be recovered are still incalculable. The extent of petroleum to be discovered isn’t known. How much oil is in source rock from the reservoirs already found is still a big question without hard answers.
The new Woodford Shale discovery is great news for the U.S. Once the world’s largest oil producer, the U.S. could do it again in phase two of mankind’s oil age.