North America’s Top Four Oil Shales

May 11, 2017
in Category: News
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North America’s Top Four Oil Shales

Utica Shale
The Utica shale describes a region located in the Appalachian Basin. It encompasses West Virginia, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Quebec. What makes this soil interesting is that it is a black organic rich soil. It is also rich in calcium carbonate, which is what gives it its chalky texture. It is very rich in petroleum deposits. According to recent estimates, it contains approximately 930 million barrels of oil,200 million barrels of natural gas liquids and 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. However, because of the depths in which these products are located, it was not exploited. With game-changing technology such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, petroleum products are being extracted from the Utica region. Independent companies such as Cunningham Energy is a major player in this region.

Antrim Shale
Locate mostly in the Michigan basin the Antrim Shale consists mostly of pyritic highly laminated organic shale. The thickness varies from 60 to 220 ft. It is relatively high in organic value, containing anywhere between 1% and 20% of it. Part of the Antrim shale extends into Canada, and there this formation is called the Kettle Point formation. It is also similar to New Albany shale found in the Illinois basin. The Antrim shale produces mostly natural gas. In fact, this region has been a major provider of gas since the 1940’s. As of 2006, the area became one of the most drilled basins. The most productive depths have historically been between 500 2000 ft.

New Albany Shale
Located in the Illinois Basin, the New Albany Shale is made up off black, brown, green organic rich shale. There is also small amounts of sandstone and dolomite and even trace amounts of phosphorous. The area has been a champion producer of natural gas and oil, and most of it is extracted in the southern part of Indiana and Kentucky. The total reserves in this area have been calculated to be around 160 trillion cubic ft. As far as the oil side of things goes, the estimates have been around 189 thousand barrels of oil.

Green River Formation
Last but not least, the Green River Formation has the largest oil shale deposits on earth. This basin is located in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah region. By some estimates, the oil deposits in this area could be as high as 3 trillion barrels of oil. However, it comes with a catch,” only” around 1.5 trillion of that may be extractable. Even with that amount, it is roughly equal to all the known oil reserves in the world! However, the only problem is that the Green River basin has not responded well to most modern methods of oil recovery. This automatically makes it on the list of areas with potential but no real success as of yet.