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USGS: East Coast Basins Hold Promising Resources

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimates that five Mesozoic shale basins along the East Coast collectively hold a mean of nearly 3.9 Tcf in undiscovered natural gas and 135 million bbl of undiscovered natural gas liquids (NGLs), according to an abstract released last week.

Five basins were studied by the USGS: the Dan River-Danville Basin in North Carolina and Virginia, the Deep River Basin in North Carolina, the Richmond Basin in Virginia, the South Newark Basin in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and the Taylorsville Basin in Maryland and Virginia. Three of the five -- Deep River, South Newark and Taylorsville -- hold the "most resource potential" for oil and gas production.

According to the data, a 95% chance exists that the Deep River Basin in North Carolina holds at least 779 Bcf of undiscovered natural gas and 35 million bbl of undiscovered NGLs. The agency said there is a 50% chance the basin holds at least 1.53 Tcf and 75 million bbl, and a 5% chance it contains at least 2.99 Tcf and 158 million bbl. In the Newark Basin in New Jersey, the USGS said there is a 95% chance that at least 363 Bcf of undiscovered natural gas is locked in the formation, along with 1 million bbl of undiscovered NGLs. The agency added that there is a 50% chance the basin holds at least 785 Bcf and 4 million bbl, and a 5% chance the basin holds at least 1.7 Tcf and 10 million bbl.

The USGS said there is a 95% probability that the Richmond Basin in Virginia holds at least 99 Bcf of undiscovered natural gas and 4 million bbl of NGLs. At the 50% probability mark, those figures increased to at least 194 Bcf and 10 million bbl. The agency said there was a 5% chance the basin holds at least 382 Bcf and 20 million bbl.

In the Taylorsville Basin in Maryland and Virginia, the USGS said there is a 95% chance of it holding at least 516 Bcf of undiscovered natural gas and 16 million bbl of NGLs. Additionally, there is a 50% chance the basin holds at least 985 Bcf and 34 million bbl, and a 5% chance there is 1.88 Tcf and 71 million bbl there. A 95% chance also exists that the Dan River-Danville Basin in North Carolina and Virginia hold at least 17 Bcf of undiscovered natural gas, a 50% chance there is at least 42 Bcf and a 5% chance the basin holds at least 106 Bcf. There is a 5% chance the basin holds at least 1 million bbl of NGLs.

The five basins studied are among 14 that were formed 227 million years ago during the Mesozoic era along the edge of the North American continent in response to the regional uplift, rifting and crustal thinning, which created the Atlantic Ocean, the USGS said. The other nine basins on the East Coast -- Culpeper, Cumberland-Marlboro, Delmarva, Florence, Gettysburg, Hartford, North Florida, North Newark and South Georgia -- didn't contain enough data to be quantitatively assessed.

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