Oil and Gas

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Petroleum ("oil") and natural gas are hydrocarbons that formed over millions of years under heat and pressure deep in the Earth. Petroleum and natural gas are the largest sources of energy in the United States.

Basics

The Aleyska pipeline in Alaska that transports crude oil from Prudhoe Bay down to Valdez. Image Copyright © Larry Fellows, Arizona Geological Survey.

Petroleum ("oil") and natural gas form from tiny plants and algae that settled in seas or lakes millions of years ago. This organic material reacts under heat and pressure to form oil and/or gas.[1] Petroleum products include gasoline, heating oil, propane, and kerosene. Not to be confused with gasoline, natural gas is mostly methane — a clear, odorless gas. When burned, oil and gas release abundant energy as well as carbon dioxide and water.   Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

American Geosciences Institute
American Geosciences Institute
American Geosciences Institute
American Geosciences Institute
U.S. Energy Information Administration

Latest News

Natural gas pump
(2018-03-09)
February 22, 2018 On February 22, the U.S. District Court for Northern California issued a preliminary injunction against suspension of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) 2016 rule on Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation. The Obama-era rule seeks to reduce...
Power lines. Image Credit: U.S. Department of Energy
(2018-02-06)
January 23, 2018 The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on January 23 that underscored concerns surrounding the reliability and resiliency of the electrical power system, particularly under certain weather conditions, such as the deep freeze or bomb cyclone that the U.S....
Atlantic waves
(2018-02-06)
January 19, 2018 On January 19, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing to identify and examine regulatory obstacles to offshore geological and geophysical resource surveying on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Congress is seeking compromises within...
Drilling rig
(2018-02-06)
January 18, 2018 On January 18, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing to assess the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) progress on eliminating burdens to domestic onshore energy production, pursuant to Secretarial Orders 3349 and 3354....
The Noble John Sandifer jackup rig
(2018-02-06)
January 10, 2018 Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced on January 4 plans for the development of the National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program (National OCS Program) for 2019-2024. The new Draft Proposed Program (DPP) aims to make more than 98 percent of the undiscovered...
The White House
(2018-01-04)
December 29, 2017 Following several executive orders issued by President Donald Trump earlier this year to suspend, revise, or rescind regulations or actions that unnecessarily burden the development of domestic energy resources, the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Environmental Protection...
The Noble John Sandifer jackup rig
(2017-09-14)
August 8, 2017 The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) declared on August 8 that the Gulf of Mexico is safe for seismic surveys. BOEM’s Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS), a review conducted in tandem with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the...
The Noble John Sandifer jackup rig
(2017-08-16)
July 12, 2017 The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing on July 12 to evaluate the potential development of offshore drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Earlier in the year, President Donald Trump issued an executive order “...
Natural gas pump
(2017-08-16)
July 6, 2017 Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed Secretarial Order 3354 on July 6 to promote energy exploration and development through better management of leasing programs for onshore oil and gas resources and solid mineral resources on federal lands. The Order directs the Bureau of Land...
Natural gas pump
(2017-07-12)
June 15, 2017 On June 15, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) posted a notice in the Federal Register indefinitely postponing certain compliance dates within the Methane Waste Prevention Rule. Originally published on November 18, 2016, the Methane Waste Prevention Rule aims to reduce the loss of...

Case Studies & Factsheets

Cover of AGI Case Study 2018-001-Geologic Mapping and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline

Overview The 800-mile-long Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which starts at Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope, can carry 2 million barrels of oil per day south to the port of Valdez for export, equal to roughly 10% of the daily consumption in the United States in 20171. The pipeline crosses the Denali...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the North Slope Borough case study highlighted
U.S. Department of the Interior

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Information and Data Management has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on oil production in...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Kern County case study highlighted
U.S. Department of the Interior

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Information and Data Management has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on oil production in Kern...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Tarrant and Johnson counties case study highlighted
U.S. Department of the Interior

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Information and Data Management has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on natural gas production...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the DeSoto Parish case study highlighted
U.S. Department of the Interior

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Information and Data Management has produced a series of case studies on extractive industries across the United States, focusing on coal, copper, gold, iron, natural gas, and oil. The case study on natural gas production...

GOLI Online Courses

Robert Font Well Logs
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

The two most basic tools used in petroleum exploration and production are well logs and seismic data. Their integration is essential to enhance the probability of success of exploratory and development ventures. In this module we concentrate on the subject of well logs. Although we always hope...

GOLI Course: State Responses to Induced Earthquakes. Image courtesy of Jerry Boak.
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

The surge in recent years of earthquake activity associated with some oil and gas operations, most notably in Oklahoma, has spurred a range of actions and responses from state geoscientists and regulators. States have taken measures to monitor these earthquakes and moderate the activities that...

GOLI Course: Basics of Seismic Petroleum Exploration for New Hires
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

This course is intended as a basic review of seismic prospecting methods for locating and extracting oil and gas global resources. It begins with a review of world hydrocarbon reserves, production and consumption, as well as overall goals and methods which apply to petroleum exploratory efforts...

GOLI Course: Making Produced Water More Productive; Image credit: USGS/ Doug Duncan
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

Geoscience is essential to our understanding and management of produced water, an inevitable byproduct of oil and gas development. This course provides a scientific and regulatory background of produced water, how it is commonly disposed, what opportunities exist for the re-use of produced water...

Thorp Springs Font Outcrop
Course Type: GOLI Online Course

We will go on a tour of some selected outcrops of the Cretaceous System of central Texas. This general area constitutes one of the best exposures of Cretaceous strata anywhere around the globe. In the course, we will emphasize various aspects of the development, stratigraphy, sedimentology,...

Research Database Publications

Cover of U.S. Geological Survey_2015-1071; Source: U.S. Geological Survey
2015, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The objective of this report is to provide basic technical information regarding the CO2-EOR process, which is at the core of the assessment methodology, to estimate the technically recoverable oil within the fields of the identified sedimentary basins of the United States. Emphasis is on CO2-EOR...
Cover of FindingProducing5.pdf; Source: American Institute of Professional Geologists
2006, American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG)
What sort of activities are necessary to isolate and extract the various non-renewable resources our society is economically dependent upon? Are these resources immediately ready for use, or are they in need of refinement?
Cover of GCCC_PhaseI_ResultsSECAR010506; Source: Bureau of Economic Geology
2006, Bureau of Economic Geology (BEG)
CO2 EOR is useful only in areas oil production, and is most useful only in certain reservoirs with lighter oil, moderate depth, unitized, with reasonable sweep efficiency. The volume of CO2 that could be sold for EOR is large, but inadequate to solve the GHG issue. However, CO2 EOR is a great...
Cover of IC_30_12; Source: Kentucky Geological Survey
2014, Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS)
The 2010 oil and natural gas production data by well published by the Kentucky Division of Oil and Gas were analyzed in response to proposed rules for limiting emissions from oil and natural gas facilities. Average daily production was determined for 5,044 oil wells and 12,940 natural gas wells. Of...
Cover of Wyoming's Oil and Gas Resources Summary Report; Source: Wyoming State Geological Survey
2015, Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS)
The year 2014 was one of growth for Wyoming’s oil sector while natural gas continued at a steady decline. Oil and gas prices play a major role in drilling activity, often with a time lag of many months when it comes to production and economic impacts to industry and the state. Wyoming is projected...
Cover of c-118; Source: Utah Geological Survey
2014, Utah Geological Survey (UGS)
During 2013, Utah extractive resource industries produced energy and mineral commodities with an estimated gross value of $9.5 billion. On an inflation-adjusted basis, this is a $1 billion (12%) increase from 2012, and $1.2 billion (11%) less than the 2008 record high of $10.7 billion. Total energy...
Cover of OFR05-52 ; Source: Kansas Geological Survey
2005, Kansas Geological Survey (KGS)
During FY2005, a total of 1,723 operators reported oil production of 33,450,046 barrels, which is down from the 34,047,466 barrels reported in FY2004 (Kansas Open-File report 2004-61, http://www.kgs.ku.edu/PRS/publication/2004/ofr2004-61/index.html). The top 20 operators produced 12,357,766 barrels...
Cover of C-111 ; Source: Oklahoma Geological Survey
2009, Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS)
This volume contains proceedings of the 17th annual two-day theme symposium "Morrow and Springer in the Southern Midcontinent:' Because these traditional sandstone reservoirs are some of the most prolific in the southern Midcontinent, their hydrocarbon resources have been, and currently are, the...
Cover of OFR99-22 ; Source: Kansas Geological Survey
1999, Kansas Geological Survey (KGS)
This annual report describes progress during the third year of the project entitled "Improved Oil Recovery in Mississippian Carbonate Reservoirs in Kansas". This project funded under the Department of Energy’s Class 2 program targets improving the reservoir performance of mature oil fields located...
Cover of mp-15-4; Source: Utah Geological Survey
2015, Utah Geological Survey (UGS)
Examination and sampling of a 500-meter surface section of Mississippian Chainman Shale from the Confusion Range of western Utah indicate that it possesses clear potential for hydrocarbon production. Although good stratigraphic and geochemical work has been published, this evaluation of the...