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In 1935, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists published a symposium, Geology of Natural Gas. Since that time, huge gas transmission systems have been constructed to all heavily populated areas in the country. Consumers have recognized natural gas as a premium source of energy, not only because of its cleanliness and ease of handling, but because natural gas is grossly underpriced. More than six times as much natural gas will be furnished consumers in 1960 than was furnished in 1935. Natural gas marketed currently is equivalent in energy to approximately 5,750,000 barrels of oil daily. Current oil production in the United States is approximately 6,800,000 barrels daily. The impact of this growth on the market for crude oil needs no comment.
Recognizing the rapidly increasing importance of natural gas as a source of energy, the Executive Committee of AAPG has authorized a new two-volume symposium, Natural Gases of North America, now in preparation. It will be by far the most comprehensive study of this type to be available to those interested in natural gas.
In the immediate future, as in the past, Tertiary rocks of the Gulf Coast Embayment of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi will continue to be major sources of gas. With depletion of reserves in the Permian Basin of West Texas and the Hugoton-Panhandle field of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, importance of the Paleozoic rocks in the Mid-Continent and Permian Basin will probably diminish, to be replaced by gas discoveries from Tertiary and Cretaceous rocks in the huge intermontane basins of the Rocky Mountain region. These two provinces, then, probably will be the major sources of new gas reserves within the United States excluding Alaska, importance of which as a gas productive area can not be predicted at this time. Vast untapped reserves of natural gases no doubt exist in Canada and Mexi o, but demands for energy in both are expanding rapidly, and only a small fraction of these will be available to consumers in this country.
We must therefore depend on discoveries of gas in our own country for the near future to satiate the ever increasing demand. The geologist exploring for natural gas faces a unique and unprecedented challenge. Not only must he deal with problems and risks inherent in all exploration, but he is beset by unique economic considerations which are often confusing and contradictory, and which often appear to defy solution. With the constantly declining ratio of reserves to yearly production, can the demands be met?
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