In the 1989 National Oil and Gas Assessment prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Minerals Management Service, undiscovered oil and gas resources in small fields were assessed separately from resources in fields containing more than 1 million bbl of oil equivalent. This paper concerns the USGS Part of the study: onshore and state waters in the conterminous United States. After the resources in small fields were assessed by geologists, statistical techniques were used to allocate these resources to field-size distributions at the province level. The total numbers of small fields remaining to be discovered is estimated at about 77,800. They account for about 10.6 billion bbl of oil equivalent or 20% of the undiscovered resources in the conterminous United States. After the resources in small fields were assessed by geologists, statistical techniques were used to allocate these resources to field-size distributions at the province level. The total numbers of small fields remaining to be discovered is estimated at about 77,800. They account for about 10.6 billion bbl of oil equivalent or 20% of the undiscovered resources in the conterminous United States. When an economic analysis was applied to the small fields, none of the offshore small fields were estimated to be commercially developable. For the onshore study area, about 52% of the small oil fields and 46% of the small gas fields are commercially developable. Overall, because more hydrocarbons are contained in the larger size classes of the small fields, about 70% of the undiscovered resources in small fields is expected to be commercially developable.

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