John D. Rockefeller, who began his career in refining, became the industry’s first “baron” in 1865, when he formed Standard Oil Company. By 1879, Standard Oil controlled not only 90% of America’s refining capacity, but also its pipelines and gathering systems. By the end of the 19th century, Standard Oil’s dominance had grown to include exploration, production, and marketing. Today ExxonMobil is the successor company to Standard Oil.
In the United States, the 1901 discovery of the Spindletop field in Texas eventually spawned companies such as Gulf Oil, Texaco, and others. The dominance of the United States during this era was illustrated by the fact that regardless of where oil was produced in the world, its price was fixed at that of the Gulf of Mexico.
Technological breakthroughs in unconventional oil and gas production have altered the North American energy landscape. These developments have also opened vast new opportunities around the globe, complicating global supply dynamics and political regimes including the dominance of OPEC.
North American Gas Boom
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process of injecting water, chemicals, and sand into wells. The resulting fractures in surrounding shale rock formations allows for hydrocarbons to escape.
In 1997, Mitchell Energy performed the first slickwater frack. This method substantially lowered the cost of hydraulically fracturing wells, leading to a boom in North American oil and gas production.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), proved reserves of U.S. crude oil and natural gas reached record highs in 2017, topping previous records at 39.2 billion barrels. In addition, proved reserves of natural gas resources reached 464.3 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) in 2017, beating the 2014 record of 388.8 Tcf. EIA also notes that shale gas made up 66 percent of total proved reserves of natural gas in 2017.
Bakken - U.S. and Canada
The Upper Devonian-Lower Mississippian-age Bakken Formation is a relatively thin stratigraphic unit, covering a large 200,000 mi² (321,869 km²) portion of the Williston basin, extending from Montana and North Dakota in the United States and into Saskatchewan and Manitoba in Canada. Depths range from 11,000 ft (3,353 m) at the center of the play to just over 3,000 ft (914 m) along its northern limit.
The Barnett Shale is a hydrocarbon-producing geological formation of great economic significance to Texas. It consists of sedimentary rocks and the productive part of the formation is estimated to stretch from the city of Dallas west and south, covering 5,000 square miles (13,000 km²) and at least 18 counties.
The Upper Cretaceous Eagle Ford Shale is an emerging play in South Central Texas with estimated recoverable reserves of approximately 150 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The Eagle Ford’s high condensate and natural gas liquids content distinguish it from other shale plays and make it one of the highest quality plays in the United States.
The Fayetteville Shale is a Mississippian-age unconventional gas reservoir located on the Arkansas side of the Arkoma Basin, ranging in thickness from 50 to 550 feet and ranging in depth from 1,500 to 6,700 feet. The most active areas of development include Conway County eastward to Van Buren, Faulkner, Cleburne and White counties.
This unusual tight-gas sandstone formation with multiple intervals is geographically large. It runs northwest to southeast across the Texas Panhandle into Oklahoma in a swath 160-miles long and 30-miles wide. Granite Wash is made up of the eroded remnants of many different lithologies. It spans the Pennsylvanian Morrow and Permian Wolfcampian age groups. This variety of source terrains translates into a wide range of mineralogies in its resulting sediments. Depths range from approximately 300 feet to more than 19,000 feet. Plays can be as thin as 10 feet and as thick as 4,000 feet, consisting of stacked, submarine fans made up of detritus shed from out lifts to the west and south.
The Haynesville formation is a layer of sedimentary rock more in the area of northwestern Louisiana, southwestern Arkansas and eastern Texas, with some of the formation stretching well across the northern central portion of the Louisiana. The most active areas have been Caddo, Bienville, Bossier, DeSoto, Red River and Webster Parishes of Louisiana plus adjacent areas in southwest Arkansas and east Texas.
The Marcellus Shale extends deep underground from Ohio and West Virginia northeast into Pennsylvania and southern New York., including the Catskills and the West-of-Hudson portion of the New York City Watershed. New York’s portion of the Marcellus Shale is approximately 18,750 square miles and is very deep – over 1 mile below ground.
The Woodford Shale Natural Gas Field (Oklahoma Shale) play is mostly in the Arkoma Basin of southeast Oklahoma, but some drilling has extended the play west into the Anadarko Basin and south into the Ardmore Basin.
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