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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Tulsa Geological Society


Tulsa Geological Society Digest
Vol. 24 (1956), Pages 94-97

Exploration Today and Tomorrow

Frank J. Gardner


In this miracle age of atomic energy, jet travel, petrochemicals, television, rockets and satellites another miracle is needed — the discovery of enough oil to supply the vast demand for ordinary uses of oil and gas in the next 25 years. This means 100 billion barrels of new oil between now and 1980, which is the equivalent of a Rangely field every 30 days or an Adena field every 5 days.

It is doubtful if this can be done with present methods, as the disappointing record of the past two years demonstrates. Which means that some new method or some new province must be found. It is now fashionable to view the possibility of such a development with alarmed doubt. However, in the past the geologist, who operates with imagination and optimism, has come through with the needed discoveries.

There are vast areas which have not been touched by the drill — in Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Georgia, most of Alabama, Utah and North Dakota and others. One guy with imagination and optimism can start a stampede to one such area and in the same manner that so many stampedes in the past have come about.

Looking back to 1955, here is what happened:

Idaho became a commercial gas producing state.

South Dakota got its second oil field.

New fields were discovered on the east side of the Williston Basin.

Paradox Basin had its first really commercial oil strike.

Arizona had its first oil well.

The Denver-Julesberg Basin stretched northward into Wyoming.

The Las Animas Arch got its first oil field.

The first Ellenburger oil was found in the Texas Panhandle.

Deep Edwards gas distillate production in South Texas was pushed southward and coastward.

The Val Verde Basin gave indications of major gas-distillate fields.

The first oil was found on the huge Chittim anticline in Maverick County, Texas.

The Balcones Fault Zone was a beehive of new activity and expansion due almost wholly to fracturing.

Oklahoma had important new fields in the southern part of the state and in the Hugoton Embayment.

Illinois experienced its greatest boom since 1947.

The Appalachians witnessed a new quite successful campaign for gas deep production.

Louisiana offshore discoveries uncovered vast new reserves.

Citronelle was the discovery of the year in Alabama and the Ansley field was discovered in coastal Mississippi.

The accompanying shows what is to be looked for in 1956. The expected developments may also be enumerated, as follows:

A second try in the Montana Disturbed Belt.

Additional discoveries in Alberta.

Accelerated search for gas in the Green River Basin.

Further extensive wildcatting in eastern Utah and west and southwest Colorado.

Possible attack on the Palo Duro Basin.

Further Devonian discoveries in the Permian Basin.

Operations in the Rio Grande Embayment.

Stepped up drilling on the east side of the Williston Basin.

New wildcatting on the Chadron and Cambridge Arch.

Continued deep drilling in the western Anadarko-Basin.

A Lower Cretaceous campaign in the southeastern states.

A continuation of Louisiana's high discovery rate.

Further discoveries in West Texas. West Texas is experiencing a busy and successful year due to improved geophysical and subsurface procedures and interpretation and to fracturing. There are at least seven generally or wholly untested potential oil basins in West Texas: Delaware, Val Verde, Marfa, Kerr, Palo Duro, Dalhart and Hollis. There should be new discoveries in deep pre-Permian rocks around the Central Basin Platform and in the Midland Basin, on the Matador Arch, on the edges of the Eastern Platform and along the Carlsbad shelf.

Continued activity in Oklahoma. Oklahoma never fails in new surprises. The chief search is on smaller structures on known broad uplifts like the Nemaha Ridge. Wildcatters are also discovering large reserves in the deeper areas. There is hope for new fields along the northern Anadarko Shelf, and the Anadarko Basin may hold more undiscovered oil than any other basin in the country.

A continued campaign in Kansas. Here the chief activity is on smaller structures in older areas. There is also a continued search for strat traps. However, there are relatively unexplored areas such as the Forest City Basin, where there should be both structural and strat traps on the west flank; the prime target here should be the Arbuckle and Simpson rocks.

An unabated campaign in East Texas. Among the many targets to shoot at are 16 non-productive piercement salt domes, the deep Jurassic rocks which produce at Smackover and other localities and developments like the Crane-Pettit Trend of Dolomite porosity.

Continued search for new fields in Southwest Texas. This may be looked for in the upper Rio Grande Embayment, on the Chittim anticline and in deep Lower Cretaceous beds.

Further exploration for flank production on many salt dome structures in the Texas Gulf Coast.

Continued successful onshore and offshore operations in Louisiana. This is now the nation's busiest region. Louisiana has been fortunate in having a bridge built by the Mississippi River out to the rich Miocene sand belt and therefore now has the best of the off-shore production. This belt may be 50 to 60 miles out from the Texas coast and in much deeper water. These depths can be up to 600 feet, but who can say that some day drilling will not be done in that depth of water.

Further exploration and discoveries in the Southeastern States. Here Citronelle, Ansley, Bolton and SoSo point up the fact that the Lower Cretaceous rocks continue their promise, particularly where these rocks wedge out on the southwest flank of the Appalachian Arch. There are salt domes now unproductive in Mississippi and Alabama. There are still many Upper Cretaceous and Eocene discoveries to be made. One or two small fields in the Black Warrior Basin indicate the possibility of success here. In time to come offshore campaigns in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida may be expected.

Continued activity in the great drilled and undrilled areas of the Rocky Mountains promise that it will be second only to the offshore province in future things to come. The future of oil discovery on structures and in stratigraphic traps is almost unlimited. Solution of the problem of overthrust belts of the Rockies should mean the discovery of huge productive areas.

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