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Bituminous rocks of Mississippian age crop out in northwest Alabama within a 113-km (70-mi) long belt. Bitumen deposits have been confirmed by coreholes to be present in the subsurface for a distance of at least 16-24 km (10-15 mi) south of the outcrop. Geochemical analyses indicate the bitumen to be an immature oil with an average sulfur content of less than 2%.

The Hartselle Sandstone is considered to have the best potential for future oil extraction operations. Saturations and thicknesses of the bitumen deposits in this formation vary widely with the “richest” deposits being located in the vicinity of west-central Lawrence County and southeast Colbert County. The highest measured saturation approaches 10% by weight and almost 70% of the pore space. Individual deposits up to 9 m (30 ft) in thickness have been encountered by coreholes, and multiple-impregnated zones are common throughout the Hartselle total thickness, which locally exceeds 46 m (150 ft). Estimates of the total reserves for the Hartselle are as large as 4. 2 billion barrels (6. 68 X 108 m3).

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