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page 10
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http://digital.library.unlv.edu/u?/dig,8
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The New England States are regarded as too unpromising to deserve consideration. Most of the northern peninsula of Michigan and the State of Minnesota are placed in the same category. The small quantities allocated to some other States indicate how little hope these geologists have of finding extensive oil fields in them. Some of these very doubtful regions will give no oil, but others will make good the deficiencies. The estimates are as a whole distinctly conservative. Of the total estimated oil reserves of the United States, amounting in round numbers to 9,000,000,000 barrels, 5,000,000,000 barrels may be classified as oil in sight and 4,000,000,000 barrels as prospective and possible. Rather more than 4,000,000,000 barrels should be assigned to the heavy-oil group. These oils will be recovered mainly in the Pacific Coast, Rocky Mountain, and Gulf States. The contents of the Lima-Indiana region, which yields oil of a distinctive type, are estimated at 40,000,000 barrels. In general, the so-called paraffin oils of moderate and high grade, as contrasted with the heavier oils, amount in all to about 5,000,000,000 barrels. The estimated reserves of high-grade oils of the Appalachian States are about 725,000,000 barrels. The estimated reserves are enough to satisfy the present requirements of the United States for only 20 years, if the oil could be taken out of the ground as fast as it is wanted. Should these estimates fall even so much as 2,000,000,000 barrels short of the actual recovery, that error of 22 per cent would be equivalent to but four years' supply, a relatively short extension of life. However, the committee expressly decries the too frequent assumption that inasmuch as the estimated reserves appear to be sufficient to meet the needs of the country at the present rate of consumption for 20 years, therefore the reserves will be exhausted at the end of that time or, at most, a few years later. This assumption is absolutely misleading, for the oil pools will not all be found that length of time, drilling will be spread over many years, as the pools are found, and the wells can not be pumped dry so quickly. Individual wells will yield oil for more than a quarter of a century and some of the wells will not have been drilled in 1950. In short, the oil can not all be discovered, much less taken from the earth, in 20 years. The United States is already absolutely dependent on foreign countries to eke out her own production, and if the foreign oil can be procured, this dependence is sure to grow greater and greater as our own fields wane, except as artificial petroleum may be produced by the distillation of oil shales and coals, or some substitute for petroleum may be discovered. All the estimates except those for one region, noted below, include only the oil recoverable from the ground by present methods, but it is practically certain that the percentage of oil to be recovered from the American oil fields will be vastly increased by the application of new and improved methods of recovery. At present, however, this phase of production may be regarded as in the experimental stage. Little has been definitely determined as to the applicability of "air pressure," "water drive," "gas pressure," "vacuum extraction," and other new methods to different regions, with their variation in conditions, or to the increase in production to be counted on from the use of these methods. The committee therefore feels that at present any estimates of such possible additional recoveries would probably contain errors enormously greater than those inherent in the estimates made on the basis of methods now in use. In only one region are the geologic conditions so well known and the experience with improved methods on a commercial basis so extensive and so long continued as to justify the formulation of estimates based on the results obtained. This is the region in northwestern Pennsylvania and southwestern New York where the "water drive" is now employed to obtain oil from the Bradford sand, which was supposed to be largely exhausted. Under the peculiar conditions there the use of this method will result in the recovery of a large quantity of oil that can not be recovered by ordinary methods of production. Allowance for the additional oil thus recovered has therefore been made in the estimates. It has already been found, however, that this method is not applicable to some other districts, and accordingly no allowance has been made for possible additional recovery through its use where its suitability to the local conditions has not been actually demonstrated. In the light of these estimates as to the extent of our supplies of natural petroleum, the joint committee points out the stern obligation of the citizen, the producer, and the Government to give most serious study to the more complete extraction of the oil from the ground, as well as to the avoidance of waste, either through direct losses or through misuse of crude oil or its products. (Thereupon the committee adjourned to meet to-morrow, Thursday, June 22,1922, at 10.30 o'clock.)

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