L. C. Powell, H. O. Woodbury, 1971. "Possible Future Petroleum Potential of Pleistocene, Western Gulf Basin", Future Petroleum Provinces of the United States—Their Geology and Potential, Volumes 1 & 2, Ira H. Cram
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Hydrocarbons in rocks of Pleistocene age have been found in 56 fields located mainly offshore from Louisiana. The maximum thickness of the Pleistocene exceeds 10,000 ft (3,050 m) near the outer edge of the continental shelf in the western Gulf basin. The types of lithologies, facies, and traps in which the hydrocarbons accumulated are similar to those of the underlying Pliocene and Miocene beds, which contain major re- serves. Additional' accumulations are expected to be found in Pleistocene rocks in an area of about 101,000 sq mi (261,160 sq km) offshore from Louisiana and Texas. However, the best opportunity for finding commercial accumulations of oil and gas appears to be in a 4,300-sq mi (11,140 sq km) area in the partially explored Pleistocene province and in a 10,700-sq mi (27,710 sq km) area of the unexplored part of the outer continental shelf—a total of 15,000 sq mi (38,850 sq km) with the best potential. The remaining areas, located in the unexplored and partially explored outer continental shelf and on the continental slope, have at best only a speculative potential.
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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.