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Overview Map of the Greater Green River Formation Oil Shale bearing areas

Oil Shale

News & Recent Publications


Monday, September 01, 2014

Application of binomial-edited CPMG to shale characterization

Outside Publication: Journal of Magnetic Resonance
Unconventional shale resources may contain a significant amount of hydrogen in organic solids such as kerogen, but it is not possible to directly detect these solids with many NMR systems. Binomial-edited pulse sequences capitalize on magnetization transfer between solids, semi-solids, and liquids to provide an indirect method of detecting solid organic materials in shales. ...


Monday, August 11, 2014

Detailed North-South Cross Section Showing Environments of Deposition, Organic Richness, and Thermal Maturities of Lower Tertiary Rocks in the Uinta Basin, Utah

USGS Publication: Scientific Investigations Map 3304The Uinta Basin of northeast Utah has produced large amounts of hydrocarbons from lower Tertiary strata since the 1960s. Recent advances in drilling technologies, in particular the development of efficient methods to drill and hydraulically fracture horizontal wells, has spurred renewed interest in producing hydrocarbons from unconventional low-permeability dolomite and shale reservoirs in the lacustrine, Eocene Green River Formation. ...


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Spatial and Stratigraphic Distribution of Water in Oil Shale of the Green River Formation Using Fischer Assay, Piceance Basin, Northwestern Colorado

The spatial and stratigraphic distribution of water in oil shale of the Eocene Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin of northwestern Colorado was studied in detail using some 321,000 Fischer assay analyses in the U.S. Geological Survey oil-shale database. The oil-shale section was subdivided into 17 roughly time-stratigraphic intervals, and the distribution of water in each interval was assessed separately. This study was conducted in part to determine whether water produced during retorting of oil shale could provide a significant amount of the water needed for an oil-shale industry. Recent estimates...


Monday, April 14, 2014

Spatial and Stratigraphic Distribution of Water in Oil Shale of the Green River Formation Using Fischer Assay

Piceance Basin, Northwestern Colorado

USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2014–1059
The spatial and stratigraphic distribution of water in oil shale of the Eocene Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin of northwestern Colorado was studied in detail using some 321,000 Fischer assay analyses in the U.S. Geological Survey oil-shale database. The oil-shale section was subdivided into 17 roughly time-stratigraphic intervals, and the distribution of water in each interval was assessed separately. 


Monday, March 10, 2014

Detailed Cross Sections of the Eocene Green River Formation

USGS Publication: Scientific Investigations Map 3276
This report presents two detailed cross sections of the Eocene Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin, northwestern Colorado, constructed from eight detailed measured sections, fourteen core holes, and two rotary holes. The cross sections extend across the northern and eastern margins of the Piceance Basin and are intended to aid in correlating between surface sections and the subsurface in the basin.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

In-Place Oil Shale Resources in the Saline-Mineral and Saline-Leached Intervals

Parachute Creek Member of the Green River Formation, Piceance Basin, Colorado

USGS Publication: Fact Sheet 2013–3115
A recent U.S. Geological Survey analysis of the Green River Formation of the Piceance Basin in western Colorado shows that about 920 and 352 billion barrels of oil are potentially recoverable from oil shale resources using oil-yield cutoffs of 15 and 25 gallons per ton (GPT), respectively. 


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Nahcolite and Halite Deposition Piceance Basin, Western Colorado

Nahcolite and Halite Deposition through Time During the Saline Mineral Phase of Eocene Lake Uinta, Piceance Basin, Western Colorado

Publication 
Halite and the sodium bicarbonate mineral nahcolite were deposited during the saline phase of Eocene Lake Uinta in the Piceance Basin, western Colorado. Variations in the area of saline mineral deposition through time were interpreted from studies of core and outcrop. Saline minerals were extensively leached by groundwater, so the original extent of saline deposition was estimated from the distribution of empty vugs and collapse breccias. Vugs and breccias strongly influence groundwater movement, so determining where leaching has occurred is an important consideration for in-situ oil shale extraction methods currently being developed.


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Simplified Stratigraphic Cross Sections of the Eocene Green River Formation

Simplified Stratigraphic Cross Sections of the Eocene Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin, Northwestern Colorado

USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2013–1012
Thirteen stratigraphic cross sections of the Eocene Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin of northwestern Colorado are presented in this report. Originally published in a much larger and more detailed form by Self and others (2010), they are shown here in simplified, page-size versions that are easily accessed and used for presentation purposes.


Monday, February 11, 2013

In-Place Oil Shale Resources of the Eocene Green River Formation

In-Place Oil Shale Resources Examined by Grade in the Major Basins of the Green River Formation, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming

USGS Publication: Fact Sheet 2012–3145
Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the USGS estimated a total of 4.285 trillion barrels of oil in-place in the oil shale of the three principal basins of the Eocene Green River Formation. Using oil shale cutoffs of potentially viable (15 gallons per ton) and high grade  (25 gallons per ton), it is estimated that between 353 billion and 1.146 trillion barrels of the in-place resource have a high potential for development.


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Overview

'How much oil shale is here?' application screenshot
How much oil shale is here?   Click the
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The Eocene Green River Formation of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming contains the largest oil shale deposits in the world. Oil shale, despite the name, does not actually contain oil, but rather a type of organic matter called kerogen, a precursor of oil that is converted to a type of crude oil when heated to about 450 – 500° C.   The oil shale deposits are in three structural and sedimentary basins that have been recently assessed:

Piceance Basin in western Colorado (assessment factsheet)

Uinta Basin in eastern Utah and western Colorado (assessment factsheet)

Greater Green River Basin in southwest Wyoming and northwest Colorado (assessment factsheet)

Estimated total in-place resources are about 1.5 trillion barrels of oil for the Piceance Basin, about 1.3 trillion barrels of oil for the Uinta Basin and 1.4 trillion barrels of oil in the Greater Green River Basin. The Piceance Basin is the smallest of the three principal basins of the Green River Formation in terms of area covered and contains the highest concentration of high-grade oil shale (capable of generating at least 25 gallons of oil per ton of rock), with approximately 352 billion barrels of in-place oil resource.

This site is a clearing house for a large collection of oil shale publications and data, including Geospatial (GIS) data,  Fischer assay data, geologic cross sections, scans of geophysical logs, and core descriptions. 

 

Ron Johnson
Project Chief

 

Research

Overview Map of the Greater Green River formation.

Overview Map of the greater Green River formation, including Oil Shale bearing rocks, Piceance, Uinta, Green River, Greate Divid, Washakie and Sand Wash Basins. (DDS 69-Y)

Piceance Basin, Colorado 2010 Assessment

An in-place assessment of the oil shale and nahcolite resources of the Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin of western Colorado was competed in 2010. The Piceance Basin is one of three large structural and sedimentary basins that contain vast amounts of oil shale resources in the Green River Formation of Eocene age. [+]

The oil shale interval in the Piceance Basin is subdivided into seventeen “rich” and “lean” zones and each interval was assessed for variations in gallons per ton, barrels per acre, and total barrels in each 36-square mile township. These zones are roughly time-stratigraphic units consisting of distinctive, laterally continuous sequences of rich and lean oil shale beds that can be traced throughout much of the Piceance Basin. The Radial Basis Function extrapolation method was used to generate isopach and isoresource maps, and to calculate resources.

Estimated in-place oil is about 1.5 trillion barrels, based on Fischer assay results from boreholes drilled to evaluate oil shale, making it the largest oil shale deposit in the world. The estimated in-place nahcolite resource is about 43.3 billion short tons.

Results of this assessment are available in the following publications:

Johnson, R.C., Brownfield, M.E., and Mercier, T.J., (U.S. Geological Survey Oil Shale Assessment Team), 2010a, Oil Shale and Nahcolite Resources of the Piceance Basin, Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Digital Data Series DDS-69-Y [CD-ROM]. http://pubs.usgs.gov/dds/dds-069/dds-069-y/

Mercier, T.J., Johnson, R.C., Brownfield, M.E., and Self, J.G., 2010, In-Place Oil Shale Resources Underlying Federal Lands in the Piceance Basin, Western Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-2010-3041, 4 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2010/3041/

Johnson, R.C., Mercier, T.J., Brownfield, M.E., Pantea, M.P., and Self, J.G., 2009, Assessment of in-place oil shale resources of the Green River Formation, Piceance Basin, western Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2009–3012, 6 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2009/3012/


Uinta Basin, Colorado and Utah 2010 Assessment

A comprehensive geology-based assessment of in-place oil, regardless of richness, in oil shales of the Eocene Green River Formation of the Uinta Basin of eastern Utah and western Colorado was conducted in 2010. [+]

The oil shale interval was subdivided into eighteen roughly time-stratigraphic intervals, and each interval was assessed for variations in gallons per ton, barrels per acre, and total barrels in each 36-square mile township. The Radial Basis Function extrapolation method was used to generate isopach and isoresource maps, and to calculate resources. The total in-place resource for the Uinta Basin is estimated at 1.32 trillion barrels. This is only slightly lower than the estimated 1.53 trillion barrels for the adjacent Piceance Basin, Colorado, to the east, which is thought to be the richest oil shale deposit in the world. However, the area underlain by oil shale in the Uinta Basin is much larger than that of the Piceance Basin—3,834 mi2  vs. 1,335 mi2 —and the average gallons per ton and barrels per acre values for each of the assessed oil shale zones are significantly lower in the depocenter in the Uinta Basin when compared to the Piceance. These relations indicate that the oil shale resources in the Uinta Basin are of lower grade and are more dispersed than the oil shale resources of the Piceance Basin.

Results of this assessment are available in the following publications:

Johnson, R.C., (and U.S. Geological Survey Oil Shale Assessment Team), 2010, Oil Shale Resources of the Uinta Basin, Utah and Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Digital Data Series DDS-69-BB, [CD-ROM]. http://pubs.usgs.gov/dds/dds-069/dds-069-bb/

Johnson, R.C., Mercier, T.J., Brownfield, M.E., and Self, J.G., 2010, Assessment of in-place oil shale resources of the Green River Formation, Uinta Basin, Utah and Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2010-3010, 4 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2010/3010/

 

 

Green River Basin, Southwestern Wyoming and Colorado 2011 Assessment

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) completed in 2011 a comprehensive assessment of in-place oil in oil shales in the Eocene Green River in the Greater Green River Basin, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah. Results of this study are provided in two publications, below:

Johnson, R.C., (and U.S. Geological Survey Oil Shale Assessment Team), 2010, Oil Shale Resources of the Eocene Green River Formation, Greater Green River Basin, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah: U.S. Geological Survey Digital Data Series DDS-69-DD, [CD-ROM]. http://pubs.usgs.gov/dds/dds-069/dds-069-ddb/

Johnson, R.C., Mercier, T.J., and Brownfield, M.E., 2011, Assessment of In-Place Oil Shale Resources of the Green River Formation, Greater Green River Basin in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2011-3063, 4 p. http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2011/3063/

 

Multimedia

Oil Shale Assessment of the Green River Formation:

 

 

Slideshow describing the Assessment of Oil Shale Resources in the Green River Basin

 

 

 

Page Last Modified: Friday, May 24, 2013

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