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Industry Brief

February 27, 2012
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The Interior Department's first assessment of the shale potential of Alaska's North Slope found the potential for up to 2 billion bbl of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and 80 Tcf of undiscovered, technically recoverable gas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). "We looked under the entire North Slope of Alaska," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt, who called it a landmark study. The results will enable industry to make "good seismic decisions," will guide their investments, said Anne Castle, assistant secretary of water and science. Alaska's shale resources "hold great promise," but production has never been attempted due to the infrastructure challenges, Castle noted. Three source rocks of the Alaska North Slope were assessed in the study: the Triassic Shublik Formation, the lower part of the Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous Kingak Shale, and the Cretaceous pebble shale unit-Hue Shale, according to USGS. It said those shale formations are known to have generated oil and gas that migrated into conventional accumulations, including the Prudhoe Bay field. But the shales also likely retain oil and gas that did not migrate. If the shale gas should be developed, it's remains an open questions as to whether it could make its way to the United States, which lacks pipelines and/or a West Coast liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal for the gas to be delivered. The nation's sole export terminal, located in Kenai, AK, exports LNG to Asian markets.

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