Frequently Asked Questions

Energy

The USGS conducts basic research on geologic energy resources including oil, gas, gas hydrates, geothermal, and coal.

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Image: Bakken Drill Rig
Traditional oil fields extract oil from rocks with relatively high porosity and permeability, so the oil flows out fairly easily. In contrast, the Bakken Formation is a relatively tight formation with low porosity and low permeability rock, from which oil flows with difficulty. To overcome this problem, wells in the Bakken Formation use a method...
Oil and Gas Wastewater Disposal Facility in West Virginia
“Technically recoverable” means that the oil and/or gas can be produced using currently available technology and industry practices. This is regardless of any economic or accessibility considerations. For example, the technology required to produce oil from a location might exist, but it costs more than the oil is worth. The oil is still...
Oil and Gas1
The USGS does not maintain statistics on oil production or oil consumption. Production information can be obtained from publicly available sources like the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, and/or the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. The U.S. Energy Information Administration provides information on oil...
Image: Bakken Oil Well
Probably not. In 2000, the USGS assessed undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas in Saudi Arabia at 87 billion barrels (USGS 2000 World Petroleum Assessment ) compared to a mean estimate of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil in the Bakken formation of 7.4 billion barrels. In addition, Saudi Arabia contains even more oil that has...
A bat that was killed by a wind turbine laying in the grass.
Dead bats are found beneath wind turbines all over the world. It’s estimated that tens to hundreds of thousands die at wind turbines each year in North America alone. Unfortunately, it’s not yet clear why this is happening. It’s possible that wind turbines interfere with seasonal migration and mating patterns in some species of bats. More than...
Image: USGS Scientist Researching  Bakken Formation Water Samples
Environmental issues include: land surface disturbance the amount of water initially required to hydraulically fracture (or “frack”) the well disposal of the poor-quality water produced with the oil air pollution groundwater contamination oil spills disruption of wildlife corridors In many cases, particularly on private land, it is the state...