From: Scott Sincoff, ENN
Published February 27, 2012 09:30 AM

U.S. Geological Survey Releases Assessment on Shale Resources in Alaska's North Slope Region

The U.S. Geological Survey has approximated how much undiscovered onshore shale oil and gas resources are available for use in Alaska's North Slope region. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), about zero up to two billion barrels of oil is available in the region. The USGS also estimated that there is zero up to 80 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. These resources represent recoverable assets, and are quantities of gas and oil that are obtainable with using modern and readily available technology. Production has never been attempted in this Alaskan region because of economic and infrastructure capabilities. The shales in this region span most of the area, but exclude the environmentally-sensitive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.



Ken Salazar, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior said that if we have better knowledge of the resources we have in all areas of the country, we can make more scientifically-based judgments to produce more domestic power for the United States. "Alaska's energy resources hold great promise and economic opportunity for the American people, and we will continue to expand our scientific understanding of existing resources as part of our commitment to an all-of-the-above energy approach that includes safe and responsible production of American oil and gas resources," said Salazar.

According to Marcia McNutt, director of the USGS, this new information can help both government and industry make better decisions with regards to how use different sources of energy, and how it will also environmentally affect the natural atmosphere of this region. According to the USGS, there is also a large amount of ambiguity with the USGS' assessment of the North Slope region. This is because there has never been an attempt to extract oil or gas from the source shale rocks. Despite this, the USGS said that successful extraction of shale oil and gas in the lower 48 states explains how the shale can be extracted.

For this study, three source rocks were examined in Alaska's North Slope region—the Triassic Shublik Formation, the lower part of the Jurassic-Lower Cretaceous Kingak Shale, and the Cretaceous pebble shale unit-Hue Shale. These formations are to have oil and gas that have transferred into conventional amassing. Nevertheless, these source rocks likely retain oil and gas that did not migrate.

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