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Houston Geological Society Bulletin


Houston Geological Society Bulletin, Volume 23, No. 5, January 1981. Pages 3-3.

Abstract: The Degree of Advancement of a National Petroleum Inventory


H. Previous HitWilliamTop Menard

Does the United States contain vast amounts of undiscovered oil and gas or not? The Nation needs an answer to that question. Hubbert has shown that, in a certain volume of densely drilled sedimentary rock, the quantity of petroleum discovered per search effort has declined exponentially. Thus the prospect for discovering large fields by conventional targeting on structures within that volume of rock is predictably small. However, the analysis does not apply even to giant fields in the frontier regions of the OCS, Alaska, and the overthrust belts. There, if anywhere, geological analogy suggests great promise.

The analysis also does not apply to gas fields underneath the volume of rock analyzed by Hubbert. Moreover, the number of small fields found within the densely drilled volume is actually increasing per search effort. Thus there is no numerical basis for determining the ultimate yield from small oil fields anywhere in the United States.

It is possible that we do not even know how much petroleum lies in giant traps between structures if most drilling has been confined to structures. One outlandish explanation for the fact that industry has done no better than a computer drilling randomly is that there is no advantage in knowing where the structures are.

All this ignorance highlights the necessity for a rapid inventory of the Nation's petroleum resources. Various proposals for making an effective inventory are briefly presented without advocacy.

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