Oil and Gas

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

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, 2017The 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, 2017Interior 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, 2017On 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...
Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida Coast
(2017-06-09)
May 4, 2017 On May 4, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Florida Shores Protection and Fairness Act (S.1041). This bill would extend the current oil and gas leasing ban off Florida’s coast in the Gulf of Mexico from 2022 until 2027. It would also add Florida to the list of states that are...
Atlantic waves
(2017-06-09)
May 1, 2017 On May 10, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced that it will reconsider applications from ocean seismic survey companies to carry out geological and geophysical activities off the Atlantic coast. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke released Secretarial Order 3350 to further...
The Noble John Sandifer jackup rig
(2017-05-18)
April 28, 2017 President Donald Trump released an executive order targeting the five-year oil and gas leasing plan finalized under the Obama administration. The order, entitled “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” encourages exploration and production on the Outer Continental...
Natural gas pump
(2017-04-10)
March 15, 2017 On March 15, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced a bill that would authorize more lease sales on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). S.665, the Unleashing American Energy Act of 2017, would enable the Department of the Interior (DOI) to add additional lease sales to an existing...
Drilling rig
(2017-04-10)
March 6, 2017 The Department of the Interior (DOI) will offer 73 million acres, including all available areas in the Gulf of Mexico, for oil and gas exploration and development, according to an announcement from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on March 6. The proposed lease sale is scheduled for...

Case Studies & Factsheets

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the North Slope Borough case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) 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 Alaska's North Slope Borough can be found here...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Kern County case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) 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 County, California can be found here. The...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the Tarrant and Johnson counties case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) 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 in Tarrant and Johnson Counties, Texas can...

Screenshot of the USEITI case studies showing the DeSoto Parish case study highlighted
U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

The U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) 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 in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana can be found...

Research Database Publications

Cover of OFR98-56 ; Source: Kansas Geological Survey
1998, Kansas Geological Survey (KGS)
As a result of a drastic drop in oil prices and relatively soft gas prices during 1998, the overall revenue generated by oil and gas production in Kansas is expected to decrease from 1997 levels by more than $600 million at the wellhead (Table 1). This decrease will have a significant impact on the...
Cover image of report; Image credit: NCKRI
2014, National Cave and Karst Research Institute (NCKRI)
BHP Billiton Petroleum (BHP) is conducting an extensive drilling program in Culberson and Loving counties, Texas, to develop unconventional oil reserves in the Wolfcamp and other shale reservoirs. Some of the operator’s wells have intersected cavities formed in the gypsum bedrock, resulting in...
Cover of OFR15-04; Source: Arizona Geological Survey
2015, Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS)
Nearly pure quartz sands have become increasingly important for oil and gas production. Although used for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) since at least the 1950s, the advent of directional drilling and improvements in hydraulic fracturing techniques have led to widespread exploitation of quartz...
Cover of 2014 Critical Issues Forum Report; Source: AGI
2015, American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession and plays an active role in increasing public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society. We created the Critical Issues Forum series as a platform to reach a broader audience of...
Cover of B228 ; Source: Kansas Geological Survey
1991, Kansas Geological Survey (KGS)
The 1,397 oil wells in the Gorham oil field have produced nearly 100 million barrels of oil (BO) from 1926 to 1986. Wells were drilled on 10-acre (4-hectare) spacing 660 ft (198 m) apart, within the 50 mi2 (130 km2) oil field. The Arbuckle dolomite (Cambrian-Ordovician) and Reagan Sandstone (...
Cover for USGS FS 2014-3010 ; Source: USGS
2014, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The U.S. Geological Survey is developing approaches for the quantitative assessment of water and proppant involved with possible future production of continuous petroleum deposits. The assessment approach is an extension of existing U.S. Geological Survey petroleum-assessment methods, and it aims...
Cover of OFR00-16 ; Source: Kansas Geological Survey
2000, Kansas Geological Survey (KGS)
This Open-File report builds on Carr and Gerlach (1997, 1998) in an attempt to develop a perspective on the trends in the relative importance of stripper well production to Kansas oil and gas production. Stripper wells are economically marginal oil and gas wells that produce at relatively low rates...
Cover of OFR02-53 ; Source: Kansas Geological Survey
2002, Kansas Geological Survey (KGS)
Attached are tables showing oil and gas production by operator for the state fiscal year from July 1, 2001 through June 30, 2002 (FY2002). Tables were generated from relational databases maintained by the Kansas Geological Survey using data supplied by the Kansas Department of Revenue. Given that...
Cover of PIC37 ; Source: Kansas Geological Survey
2014, Kansas Geological Survey (KGS)
Seismology is the study of mechanical waves that travel on and beneath the surface of the earth. It was first recognized as a scientific discipline in the 1800s with the emergence of the quantitative study of earthquakes, one of the most common natural sources of seismic waves. Although instruments...
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?