Geology, Oil Fields, and Future Petroleum Potential of Santa Barbara Channel Area, California
John F. Curran, Kempton B. Hall, Robert F. Herron, 1971. "Geology, Oil Fields, and Future Petroleum Potential of Santa Barbara Channel Area, California", Future Petroleum Provinces of the United States—Their Geology and Potential, Volumes 1 & 2, Ira H. Cram
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The Santa Barbara Channel area is the western part of the Transverse Ranges geomorphic province and includes the submerged seaward extension of the Ventura basin. A nearly complete post-Jurassic sedimentary sequence is present. The total section ranges from 19,200 to 67,600 ft (5,852 to 20,604 m) in thickness, and average thickness is 35,000 ft (10,668 m). Potential reservoir rocks range from 4,600 to 25,400 ft (1,402 to 7,742 m) in thickness and average 14,000 ft (4,267 m). The section is 30 percent arenaceous.
Geologic structures generally trend west. Anticlinal trends with steeply dipping (up to 75°) flanks are prominent. Numerous near-vertical lateral faults and high-angle reverse faults also are common. Vertical displacements of more than 10,000 ft (3,048 m) and lateral displacements of more than 3 mi (5 km) are recognized.
Twenty-three oil or gas fields are present in the area. Five fields have been discovered on federal lands in the past 2 years, but only one now is being developed. Cumulative production from all fields is over 200 million bbl of oil and nearly 300 billion cu ft of gas.
Statistical approaches to determination of original oil in place in the area have yielded varied results in the magnitude of 25 to 35 billion bbl. Comparisons with other sedimentary basins of the California Coast Ranges indicate that an estimate of 10 to 15 billion bbl of oil in place is probably in the right order of magnitude.
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The geology of the entire United States, including the continental shelf and slope, was studied by petroleum geologists to determine its petroleum potential. Prospective areas of the 11 regions were assessed qualitatively and, usually, quantitatively.
The prospective basinal area covers approximately 3.2 million sq mi (statute; 8.3 million sq km) and contains approximately 6 million cu mi (25 million cu km) of sedimentary rock above basement or 30,000 ft (9,144 m). Other less prospective areas are, in the aggregate, large.
The prospective area has not been explored adequately. Many high-potential areas are indicated by the geology and extent of exploration, particularly in parts of Alaska, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming, and in parts of the offshore of Alaska, California, Louisiana, and Texas. The prospective Atlantic, Florida, and Alaska continental shelves, and the entire continental slope, barely have been touched by drilling, and other prospective areas and depths on land and the continental shelf remain largely unexplored.
Estimates of potential crude oil reserves of the basinal area only, exclusive of known reserves, range from 227 to 436 billion bbl of original oil in place. The potential probably exceeds the mean of 332 billion bbl. Approximately 32 percent of the oil in place would be recoverable at known rates of recovery. Ultimately, the rate of recovery may reach 60 percent.
Estimates of potential natural gas reserves exclusive of known reserves range from 595 to 1,227 trillion cu ft of recoverable natural gas. The gas potential also probably exceeds the mean of 911 trillion cu ft.
The ultimate petroleum potential of the United States, including known reserves, may exceed 432 billion bbl of crude oil, 1,543 trillion cu ft of natural gas, and 49 billion bbl of natural gas liquids.
Finding and developing the large petroleum potential will require a great amount of drilling because a significant percentage of the visualized undiscovered crude oil and natural gas is in stratigraphic traps, combination stratigraphic and structural traps, reefs, and complex structural situations. Estimates of future domestic demand call for accelerated exploration. To the extent that policies of industry and government militate against accelerated exploration, particularly drilling, a high percentage of the petroleum resources of the United States will not be reduced to possession.