This economic analysis is based on a 2010 USGS resource assessment that determined how much undiscovered, conventional oil and gas in the NPRA is technically recoverable. These reports provide updates from the USGS 2003 economic analysis and 2002 resource assessment of the NPRA.
“The USGS conducts assessment updates to re-evaluate petroleum potential as new data and information become available,” said USGS Energy Resources Program Coordinator Brenda Pierce. “Understanding how much undiscovered, technically recoverable resource might be present serves as a basis for calculating how much might be economically developed.”
Technically recoverable resources are those that could be potentially produced using current technology and industry practices. Economically recoverable resources are those that can be sold at a price that covers the costs of discovery, development, production and transportation to the market.
The new economic analysis estimates that approximately 273 million barrels of undiscovered oil are economically recoverable at an oil price of $72 per barrel (comparable to $8 per thousand cubic feet of gas). About 500 million barrels of undiscovered oil are economically recoverable at $90 per barrel (comparable to $10 per thousand cubic feet of gas). These estimates do not include the discovered oil accumulations in northeastern NPRA that have not yet been developed.
The economically recoverable oil estimates above are dependent upon gas exploration in the NPRA, meaning that it is assumed the oil would be found in the process of looking primarily for gas.
The USGS assessment also found that about 18 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered gas are economically recoverable when the market price is $8 or more per thousand cubic feet, and 32 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered gas would be economic when the market price is $10 or more per thousand cubic feet.
There currently is no pipeline in place to transport gas from the North Slope of Alaska, so this assessment assumes that there is a 10- or 20-year delay between discovery and production in the NPRA. This analysis shows that if a pipeline is constructed, there is a significant amount of gas that is economically recoverable from the NPRA when prices are above $8 per thousand cubic feet of gas.
The different market prices quoted above for the same resource are because some resource accumulations are relatively easy to find and produce while others are not and therefore cost more.
“USGS estimates are based on 2010 costs and technology, and these results could change over time as they are dependent on multiple factors,” said USGS scientist Emil Attanasi, who was the lead author for this assessment. “For example, USGS economic recoverability estimates could vary in the future depending on the timeframe and costs to construct a gas pipeline to the NPRA, technological advances that make resource extraction and development easier and less expensive, and fluctuating market prices for oil and gas.”
The amount of oil that could be economically developed is significantly less than what the 2003 analysis concluded. One reason for the reduction is reduced volumes of technically recoverable oil based on recent NPRA exploration drilling which found gas rather than oil.
All of the cited resource estimates are based on the mean undiscovered resources.
Listen to a podcast interview with USGS scientists on this assessment.
To learn more about this or the geologic assessment, please visit the Energy Resources Program website.USGS provides science for a changing world. Visit USGS.gov, and follow us on Twitter @USGS and our other social media channels.
Subscribe to our news releases via e-mail, RSS or Twitter.
Jessica Robertson | EurekAlert!
NASA sees the end of ex-Tropical Cyclone 02W
21.04.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
New research unlocks forests' potential in climate change mitigation
21.04.2017 | Clemson University
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy