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

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,...

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...

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...

Research Database Publications

Cover of fs2016-3030 ; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) completed a geology-based assessment of the continuous (unconventional) oil and gas resources in the Late Cretaceous Mancos Shale within the Piceance Basin of the Uinta-Piceance Province (fig. 1). The previous USGS assessment of the Mancos Shale in the Piceance...
Cover of PP1732a; Source: USGS
2006, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The Arctic Alaska Petroleum Province, encompassing all the lands and adjacent Continental Shelf areas north of the Brooks Range-Herald arch, is one of the most petroleum-productive areas in the United States, having produced about 15 billion bbl of oil. Seven unitized oil fields currently...
Cover of CNR_55_12; Source: Kentucky Geological Survey
2014, Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS)
The goal of the Rough Creek Graben Consortium project was to evaluate the oil and gas potential of the Cambrian strata in the Rough Creek Graben and the surrounding region. In addition, this project created a data compilation and geologic framework for the more than 39,000 ft of sediment in 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 fs2016-3032 ; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Water Availability and Use Science Program (WAUSP) goals are to provide a more accurate assessment of the status of the water resources of the United States and assist in the determination of the quantity and quality of water that is available for beneficial uses...
Cover of fs2016-3039; Image credit: U.S. Geological Survey
2016, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey assessed mean resources of 5 trillion cubic feet of gas and 187 million barrels of natural gas liquids in tight-gas assessment units in the Canyon sandstones of the Val Verde Basin, Texas.
Cover for USGS FS 2014-3104 ; Source: USGS
2014, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Significant quantities of water are present in hydrocarbon reservoirs. When brought to the land surface during oil, gas, and coalbed methane production, the water—either naturally occurring or injected as a method to enhance production—is termed produced water. Produced water is currently managed...
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...
Submarine Slope Destabilization, USGS
2012, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
For decades, it has been postulated that submarine slope failures are spatially linked to the presence of gas hydrates/gas-charged sediments and temporally linked to episodes of climate change. The evidence for these linkages remains anecdotal, and increasingly the causal relationship between gas...
Cover of FS2015-3032; Source: USGS
2015, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
In response to recent diplomatic developments between Cuba and the United States, the National Minerals Information Center compiled available information on the mineral industries of Cuba. This fact sheet highlights a new map and table that identify mines, mineral processing facilities, and...