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

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, 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...

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...

GOLI Online Courses

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: 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: 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...

Research Database Publications

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 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 fs2016-3085; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated mean undiscovered, technically recoverable continuous resources that total 464 million barrels of oil and 4.08 trillion cubic feet of gas in the Lower Mississippian Sunbury Shale and Middle Devonian–Lower...
AIPG logo
2009, American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG)
World-wide, about half – the easy half - of the original oil Resource has been produced. Considerable exploration has taken place in all but the most inaccessible basins, and so the potential for huge new discoveries is extremely limited (Fig.1). Further, the average size of new fields decreases as...
Cover of GF30; Source: Ohio Geological Survey
2015, Ohio Geological Survey (OGS)
Since the discovery of coal in Ohio in 1755, the state has been a major player in the nation’s energy industry. Outside of coal, the most actively drilled, energy-bearing geologic formation has been the “Clinton” sandstone. The “Clinton” sandstone is a deposit in the subsurface of eastern Ohio...
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 of OFR04-61 ; Source: Kansas Geological Survey
2004, Kansas Geological Survey (KGS)
The following are tables showing oil and gas production by operator for the state fiscal year from July 1, 2003, through June 30, 2004 (FY2004). Tables were generated from relational databases maintained by the Kansas Geological Survey using data supplied by the Kansas Department of Revenue. Given...
Cover of OFR98-50 ; Source: Kansas Geological Survey
1998, Kansas Geological Survey (KGS)
This Open-File report builds on Carr and Gerlach (1997) 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. The...
Cover of ofr2013-01; Source: Wyoming State Geological Survey
2013, Wyoming State Geological Survey (WSGS)
Presented in this report are the results of a regional groundwater drawdown study that is being conducted by the BLM within its monitoring well network. This report will add and focus on data from January 2010 through October 2012 (hereafter referred to as the period of record or POR). Additionally...
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?