Oil reserves

Last updated
A map of world oil reserves, 2013. Oil Reserves Updated.png
A map of world oil reserves, 2013.

Oil reserves denote the amount of crude oil that can be technically recovered at a cost that is financially feasible at the present price of oil. [1] Hence reserves will change with the price, unlike oil resources, which include all oil that can be technically recovered at any price. Reserves may be for a well, a reservoir, a field, a nation, or the world. Different classifications of reserves are related to their degree of certainty.

Petroleum naturally occurring flammable liquid

Petroleum is a naturally occurring, yellowish-black liquid found in geological formations beneath the Earth's surface. It is commonly refined into various types of fuels. Components of petroleum are separated using a technique called fractional distillation, i.e. separation of a liquid mixture into fractions differing in boiling point by means of distillation, typically using a fractionating column.

Contents

The total estimated amount of oil in an oil reservoir, including both producible and non-producible oil, is called oil in place . However, because of reservoir characteristics and limitations in petroleum extraction technologies, only a fraction of this oil can be brought to the surface, and it is only this producible fraction that is considered to be reserves. The ratio of reserves to the total amount of oil in a particular reservoir is called the recovery factor. Determining a recovery factor for a given field depends on several features of the operation, including method of oil recovery used and technological developments. [2]

Oil in place (OIP) is a specialist term in petroleum geology that refers to the total oil content of an oil reservoir. As this quantity cannot be measured directly, it has to be estimated from other parameters measured prior to drilling or after production has begun.

Reservoir engineering branch of petroleum engineering

Reservoir engineering is a branch of petroleum engineering that applies scientific principles to the fluid flow through porous medium during the development and production of oil and gas reservoirs so as to obtain a high economic recovery. The working tools of the reservoir engineer are subsurface geology, applied mathematics, and the basic laws of physics and chemistry governing the behavior of liquid and vapor phases of crude oil, natural gas, and water in reservoir rock. Of particular interest to reservoir engineers is generating accurate reserves estimates for use in financial reporting to the SEC and other regulatory bodies. Other job responsibilities include numerical reservoir modeling, production forecasting, well testing, well drilling and workover planning, economic modeling, and PVT analysis of reservoir fluids. Reservoir engineers also play a central role in field development planning, recommending appropriate and cost effective reservoir depletion schemes such as waterflooding or gas injection to maximize hydrocarbon recovery. Due to legislative changes in many hydrocarbon producing countries, they are also involved in the design and implementation of carbon sequestration projects in order to minimise the emission of greenhouse gases.

Extraction of petroleum removal of petroleum from the earth

The extraction of petroleum is the process by which usable petroleum is drawn out from beneath the earth's surface location

Based on data from OPEC at the beginning of 2013 the highest proved oil reserves including non-conventional oil deposits are in Venezuela (20% of global reserves), Saudi Arabia (18% of global reserves), Canada (13% of global reserves), and Iran (9%). [3]

OPEC international organization of petroleum-exporting countries

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is an intergovernmental organization of 14 nations, founded in 1960 in Baghdad by the first five members, and headquartered since 1965 in Vienna, Austria. As of September 2018, the then 14 member countries accounted for an estimated 44 percent of global oil production and 81.5 percent of the world's "proven" oil reserves, giving OPEC a major influence on global oil prices that were previously determined by the so called "Seven Sisters” grouping of multinational oil companies.

Venezuela Republic in northern South America

Venezuela, officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a continental landmass and a large number of small islands and islets in the Caribbean Sea. The capital and largest urban agglomeration is the city of Caracas. It has a territorial extension of 916,445 km2. The continental territory is bordered on the north by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Colombia, Brazil on the south, Trinidad and Tobago to the north-east and on the east by Guyana. With this last country, the Venezuelan government maintains a claim for Guayana Esequiba over an area of 159,542 km2. For its maritime areas, it exercises sovereignty over 71,295 km2 of territorial waters, 22,224 km2 in its contiguous zone, 471,507 km2 of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean under the concept of exclusive economic zone, and 99,889 km2 of continental shelf. This marine area borders those of 13 states. The country has extremely high biodiversity and is ranked seventh in the world's list of nations with the most number of species. There are habitats ranging from the Andes Mountains in the west to the Amazon basin rain-forest in the south via extensive llanos plains, the Caribbean coast and the Orinoco River Delta in the east.

Energy in Saudi Arabia involves petroleum and natural gas production, consumption, and exports, and electricity production. Saudi Arabia is the world's leading oil producer and exporter. Saudi Arabia's economy is petroleum-based; oil accounts for 90% of the country's exports and nearly 75% of government revenue. The oil industry produces about 45% of Saudi Arabia's gross domestic product, against 40% from the private sector. Saudi Arabia has per capita GDP of $20,700. The economy is still very dependent on oil despite diversification, in particular in the petrochemical sector.

Because the geology of the subsurface cannot be examined directly, indirect techniques must be used to estimate the size and recoverability of the resource. While new technologies have increased the accuracy of these techniques, significant uncertainties still remain. In general, most early estimates of the reserves of an oil field are conservative and tend to grow with time. This phenomenon is called reserves growth . [4]

Geology The study of the composition, structure, physical properties, and history of Earths components, and the processes by which they are shaped.

Geology is an earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change over time. Geology can also include the study of the solid features of any terrestrial planet or natural satellite such as Mars or the Moon. Modern geology significantly overlaps all other earth sciences, including hydrology and the atmospheric sciences, and so is treated as one major aspect of integrated earth system science and planetary science.

Exploration geophysics is an applied branch of geophysics and economic geology, which uses physical methods, such as seismic, gravitational, magnetic, electrical and electromagnetic at the surface of the Earth to measure the physical properties of the subsurface, along with the anomalies in those properties. It is most often used to detect or infer the presence and position of economically useful geological deposits, such as ore minerals; fossil fuels and other hydrocarbons; geothermal reservoirs; and groundwater reservoirs.

Reflection seismology

Reflection seismology is a method of exploration geophysics that uses the principles of seismology to estimate the properties of the Earth's subsurface from reflected seismic waves. The method requires a controlled seismic source of energy, such as dynamite or Tovex blast, a specialized air gun or a seismic vibrator, commonly known by the trademark name Vibroseis. Reflection seismology is similar to sonar and echolocation. This article is about surface seismic surveys; for vertical seismic profiles, see VSP.

Many oil-producing nations do not reveal their reservoir engineering field data and instead provide unaudited claims for their oil reserves. The numbers disclosed by some national governments are suspected of being manipulated for political reasons. [5] [6]

Classifications

Schematic graph illustrating petroleum volumes and probabilities. Curves represent categories of oil in assessment. There is a 95% chance (i.e., probability, F95) of at least volume V1 of economically recoverable oil, and there is a 5-percent chance (F05) of at least volume V2 of economically recoverable oil. Petroleum probabilities.JPG
Schematic graph illustrating petroleum volumes and probabilities. Curves represent categories of oil in assessment. There is a 95% chance (i.e., probability, F95) of at least volume V1 of economically recoverable oil, and there is a 5-percent chance (F05) of at least volume V2 of economically recoverable oil.

All reserve estimates involve uncertainty, depending on the amount of reliable geologic and engineering data available and the interpretation of that data. The relative degree of uncertainty can be expressed by dividing reserves into two principal classifications—"proven" (or "proved") and "unproven" (or "unproved"). [7] Unproven reserves can further be divided into two subcategories—"probable" and "possible"—to indicate the relative degree of uncertainty about their existence. [7] The most commonly accepted definitions of these are based on those approved by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and the World Petroleum Council (WPC) in 1997. [8]

Society of Petroleum Engineers organization

The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit professional organization whose mission is to collect, disseminate, and exchange technical knowledge concerning the exploration, development and production of oil and gas resources and related technologies for the public benefit and to provide opportunities for professionals to enhance their technical and professional competence.

The World Petroleum Council (WPC) is an oil and gas industry forum and international organization representing the petroleum sector worldwide

Proven reserves

Proven reserves are those reserves claimed to have a reasonable certainty (normally at least 90% confidence) of being recoverable under existing economic and political conditions, with existing technology. Industry specialists refer to this as "P90" (that is, having a 90% certainty of being produced). Proven reserves are also known in the industry as "1P". [9] [10]

Proven reserves are further subdivided into "proven developed" (PD) and "proven undeveloped" (PUD). [10] [11] PD reserves are reserves that can be produced with existing wells and perforations, or from additional reservoirs where minimal additional investment (operating expense) is required. [11] PUD reserves require additional capital investment (e.g., drilling new wells) to bring the oil to the surface. [9] [11]

Until December 2009 "1P" proven reserves were the only type the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission allowed oil companies to report to investors. Companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges must substantiate their claims, but many governments and national oil companies do not disclose verifying data to support their claims. Since January 2010 the SEC now allows companies to also provide additional optional information declaring 2P (both proven and probable) and 3P (proven plus probable plus possible) provided the evaluation is verified by qualified third party consultants, though many companies choose to use 2P and 3P estimates only for internal purposes.

Unproven reserves

An oil well in Canada, which has the world's third largest oil reserves. Oil well3419.jpg
An oil well in Canada, which has the world's third largest oil reserves.

Unproven reserves are based on geological and/or engineering data similar to that used in estimates of proven reserves, but technical, contractual, or regulatory uncertainties preclude such reserves being classified as proven. [12] Unproven reserves may be used internally by oil companies and government agencies for future planning purposes but are not routinely compiled. They are sub-classified as probable and possible. [12]

Probable reserves are attributed to known accumulations and claim a 50% confidence level of recovery. Industry specialists refer to them as "P50" (i.e., having a 50% certainty of being produced). The sum of proven plus probable reserves is also referred to in the industry as "2P" (proven plus probable). [9]

Possible reserves are attributed to known accumulations that have a less likely chance of being recovered than probable reserves. This term is often used for reserves which are claimed to have at least a 10% certainty of being produced ("P10"). Reasons for classifying reserves as possible include varying interpretations of geology, reserves not producible at commercial rates, uncertainty due to reserve infill (seepage from adjacent areas) and projected reserves based on future recovery methods. The cumulative amount of proven, probable and possible resources are referred to in the industry as "3P" (proven plus probable plus possible). [9]

Russian reserve categories

In Russia, reserves categories A, B, and C1 correspond roughly to proved developed producing, proved developed nonproducing, and proved undeveloped, respectively; the designation ABC1 corresponds to proved reserves. The Russian category C2 includes probable and possible reserves. [13]

Strategic petroleum reserves

Many countries maintain government-controlled oil reserves for both economic and national security reasons. According to the United States Energy Information Administration, approximately 4.1 billion barrels (650,000,000 m3) of oil are held in strategic reserves, of which 1.4 billion is government-controlled. These reserves are generally not counted when computing a nation's oil reserves.

Resources

Unconventional oil resources are greater than conventional ones. Total World Oil Reserves.PNG
Unconventional oil resources are greater than conventional ones.
Cumulative oil production plus remaining reserves and undiscovered resources. United States not included. USGS world oil endowment.png
Cumulative oil production plus remaining reserves and undiscovered resources. United States not included.

A more sophisticated system of evaluating petroleum accumulations was adopted in 2007 by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), World Petroleum Council (WPC), American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), and Society of Petroleum Evaluation Engineers (SPEE). It incorporates the 1997 definitions for reserves, but adds categories for contingent resources and prospective resources. [7]

Contingent resources are those quantities of petroleum estimated, as of a given date, to be potentially recoverable from known accumulations, but the applied project(s) are not yet considered mature enough for commercial development due to one or more contingencies. Contingent resources may include, for example, projects for which there are no viable markets, or where commercial recovery is dependent on technology under development, or where evaluation of the accumulation is insufficient to clearly assess commerciality.

Prospective resources are those quantities of petroleum estimated, as of a given date, to be potentially recoverable from undiscovered accumulations by application of future development projects. Prospective resources have both an associated chance of discovery and a chance of development.

The United States Geological Survey uses the terms technically and economically recoverable resources when making its petroleum resource assessments. Technically recoverable resources represent that proportion of assessed in-place petroleum that may be recoverable using current recovery technology, without regard to cost. Economically recoverable resources are technically recoverable petroleum for which the costs of discovery, development, production, and transport, including a return to capital, can be recovered at a given market price.

"Unconventional resources" exist in petroleum accumulations that are pervasive throughout a large area. Examples include extra heavy oil, oil sand, and oil shale deposits. Unlike "conventional resources", in which the petroleum is recovered through wellbores and typically requires minimal processing prior to sale, unconventional resources require specialized extraction technology to produce. For example, steam and/or solvents are used to mobilize bitumen for in-situ recovery. Moreover, the extracted petroleum may require significant processing prior to sale (e.g., bitumen upgraders). [7] The total amount of unconventional oil resources in the world considerably exceeds the amount of conventional oil reserves, but are much more difficult and expensive to develop.

Estimation techniques

Example of a production decline curve for an individual well GlennPool.jpg
Example of a production decline curve for an individual well

The amount of oil in a subsurface reservoir is called oil in place (OIP). [11] Only a fraction of this oil can be recovered from a reservoir. This fraction is called the recovery factor . [11] The portion that can be recovered is considered to be a reserve. The portion that is not recoverable is not included unless and until methods are implemented to produce it. [12]

Volumetric method

Volumetric methods attempt to determine the amount of oil in place by using the size of the reservoir as well as the physical properties of its rocks and fluids. Then a recovery factor is assumed, using assumptions from fields with similar characteristics. OIP is multiplied by the recovery factor to arrive at a reserve number. Current recovery factors for oil fields around the world typically range between 10 and 60 percent; some are over 80 percent. The wide variance is due largely to the diversity of fluid and reservoir characteristics for different deposits. [15] [16] [17] The method is most useful early in the life of the reservoir, before significant production has occurred.

Materials balance method

The materials balance method for an oil field uses an equation that relates the volume of oil, water and gas that has been produced from a reservoir and the change in reservoir pressure to calculate the remaining oil. It assumes that, as fluids from the reservoir are produced, there will be a change in the reservoir pressure that depends on the remaining volume of oil and gas. The method requires extensive pressure-volume-temperature analysis and an accurate pressure history of the field. It requires some production to occur (typically 5% to 10% of ultimate recovery), unless reliable pressure history can be used from a field with similar rock and fluid characteristics. [12]

Production decline curve method

Decline curve generated by decline curve analysis software, utilized in petroleum economics to indicate the depletion of oil & gas in a [[petroleum reservoir</center>]] The Y axis is a semi log scale, indicating the rate of oil depletion (green line), and gas depletion (red line). The X axis is a coordinate scale, indicating time in years and displays the production decline curve. The top red line is the gas decline curve, which is a hyperbolic decline curve. Gas is measured in MCF (thousand cubic feet in this case). The lower Blue line is the oil decline curve, which is an exponential decline curve. Oil is measured in BBL (Oil barrels). Data is from actual sales, not pumped production. The dips to zero indicate there were no sales that month, likely because the oil well did not produce a full tank, and thus was not worth a visit from a tank truck. The upper right legend (map) displays CUM, which is the cumulative gas or oil produced. ULT is the ultimate recovery projected for the well. Pv10 is the discounted present value of 10%, which is the future value of the remaining lease, valued for this oil well at $1.089 million USD. Decline curve analysis software image of exponential decline - hyperbolic decline.jpg
Decline curve generated by decline curve analysis software, utilized in petroleum economics to indicate the depletion of oil & gas in a [[petroleum reservoir</center>]] The Y axis is a semi log scale, indicating the rate of oil depletion (green line), and gas depletion (red line). The X axis is a coordinate scale, indicating time in years and displays the production decline curve. The top red line is the gas decline curve, which is a hyperbolic decline curve. Gas is measured in MCF (thousand cubic feet in this case). The lower Blue line is the oil decline curve, which is an exponential decline curve. Oil is measured in BBL (Oil barrels). Data is from actual sales, not pumped production. The dips to zero indicate there were no sales that month, likely because the oil well did not produce a full tank, and thus was not worth a visit from a tank truck. The upper right legend (map) displays CUM, which is the cumulative gas or oil produced. ULT is the ultimate recovery projected for the well. Pv10 is the discounted present value of 10%, which is the future value of the remaining lease, valued for this oil well at $1.089 million USD.

The decline curve method uses production data to fit a decline curve and estimate future oil production. The three most common forms of decline curves are exponential, hyperbolic, and harmonic. It is assumed that the production will decline on a reasonably smooth curve, and so allowances must be made for wells shut in and production restrictions. The curve can be expressed mathematically or plotted on a graph to estimate future production. It has the advantage of (implicitly) including all reservoir characteristics. It requires a sufficient history to establish a statistically significant trend, ideally when production is not curtailed by regulatory or other artificial conditions. [12]

Reserves growth

Experience shows that initial estimates of the size of newly discovered oil fields are usually too low. As years pass, successive estimates of the ultimate recovery of fields tend to increase. The term reserve growth refers to the typical increases in estimated ultimate recovery that occur as oil fields are developed and produced. [4]

Estimated reserves by country

Trends in proved oil reserves in top five countries, 1980-2013 (date from US Energy Information Administration) Oil Reserves Top 5 Countries.png
Trends in proved oil reserves in top five countries, 1980-2013 (date from US Energy Information Administration)

The unit bbl = barrel of oil. A sample calculation for the reserve/production ratio is for Venezuela.

Countries with largest oil reserves Top ten largest oil reserves by country.GIF
Countries with largest oil reserves
Most of the world's oil reserves are in the Middle East. World Oil Reserves by Region.PNG
Most of the world's oil reserves are in the Middle East.
Summary of Proven Reserve Data as of 2012 [3]
CountryReserves [19]
109 bbl
Reserves
109 m3
Production [20]
106 bbl/d
Production
103 m3/d
Reserve/ Production Ratio1
years
1 Flag of Venezuela.svg Venezuela 296.5047.1402.1330387
2 Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg Saudi Arabia 265.4042.1958.91,41082
3 Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Canada 175.0027.8232.7430178
4 Flag of Iran.svg Iran 151.2024.0394.1650101
5 Flag of Iraq.svg Iraq 143.1022.7513.4540115
6 Flag of Kuwait.svg Kuwait 101.5016.1372.337027
7 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg United Arab Emirates 97.8015.5492.438018
8 Flag of Russia.svg Russia 80.0012.71910.01,59015
9 Flag of Libya.svg Libya 47.007.4721.727076
10 Flag of Nigeria.svg Nigeria 37.005.8832.540041
11 Flag of Kazakhstan.svg Kazakhstan 30.004.7701.524055
12 Flag of Qatar.svg Qatar 25.414.0401.11705
13 Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg China 25.404.0384.165017
14 Flag of the United States.svg United States 25.003.9757.01,11010
15 Flag of Angola.svg Angola 13.502.1461.930019
16 Flag of Algeria.svg Algeria 13.422.1341.727015
17 Flag of Brazil.svg Brazil 13.202.0992.133017
Total of top seventeen reserves1,540.43244.90959.59,46071
Notes:
1 Reserve to Production ratio (in years), calculated as reserves / annual production. (from above)

It is estimated that between 100 and 135 billion tonnes (which equals between 133 and 180 billions m3 of oil) of the world's oil reserves have been used between 1850 and the present. [21]

OPEC countries

OPEC countries OPEC.svg
OPEC countries

Since OPEC started to set production quotas on the basis of reserves levels in the 1980s, many of its members have reported significant increases in their official reserves. [22] [23] There are doubts about the reliability of these estimates, which are not provided with any form of verification that meet external reporting standards. [22]

Oil reserves of OPEC 1980-2005 OPEC declared reserves 1980-now BP.svg
Oil reserves of OPEC 1980–2005

The sudden revisions in OPEC reserves, totaling nearly 300 bn barrels, have been much debated. [24] Some of it is defended partly by the shift in ownership of reserves away from international oil companies, some of whom were obliged to report reserves under conservative US Securities and Exchange Commission rules. [22] [25] The most prominent explanation of the revisions is prompted by a change in OPEC rules which set production quotas (partly) on reserves. In any event, the revisions in official data had little to do with the actual discovery of new reserves. [22]

Total reserves in many OPEC countries hardly changed in the 1990s. [22] Official reserves in Kuwait, for example, were unchanged at 96.5 Gbbl (15.34×10^9 m3) (including its share of the Neutral Zone) from 1991 to 2002, even though the country produced more than 8 Gbbl (1.3×10^9 m3) and did not make any important new discoveries during that period. [22] The case of Saudi Arabia is also striking, with proven reserves estimated at between 260 and 264 billion barrels (4.20×1010 m3) in the past 18 years, a variation of less than 2%, [22] while extracting approximately 60 billion barrels (9.5×109 m3) during this period.

Sadad al-Huseini, former head of exploration and production at Saudi Aramco, estimates 300 Gbbl (48×10^9 m3) of the world's 1,200 Gbbl (190×10^9 m3) of proven reserves should be recategorized as speculative resources, though he did not specify which countries had inflated their reserves. [26] Dr. Ali Samsam Bakhtiari, a former senior expert of the National Iranian Oil Company, has estimated that Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have overstated reserves by a combined 320–390bn barrels and has said, "As for Iran, the usually accepted official 132 billion barrels (2.10×1010 m3) is almost one hundred billion over any realistic assay." [27] Petroleum Intelligence Weekly reported that official confidential Kuwaiti documents estimate reserves of Kuwait were only 48 billion barrels (7.6×10^9 m3), of which half were proven and half were possible. The combined value of proven and possible is half of the official public estimate of proven reserves. [23]

In July 2011, OPEC's Annual Statistical Review showed Venezuela's reserves to be larger than Saudi Arabia's. [28] [29]

Prospective resources

Arctic prospective resources

Location of Arctic Basins assessed by the USGS ArcticLocationMap2.gif
Location of Arctic Basins assessed by the USGS

A 2008 United States Geological Survey estimates that areas north of the Arctic Circle have 90 billion barrels (1.4×1010 m3) of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and 44 billion barrels (7.0×109 m3) of natural gas liquids in 25 geologically defined areas thought to have potential for petroleum. This represented 13% of the expected undiscovered oil in the world. Of the estimated totals, more than half of the undiscovered oil resources were estimated to occur in just three geologic provinces—Arctic Alaska, the Amerasia Basin, and the East Greenland Rift Basins. More than 70% of the mean undiscovered oil resources was estimated to occur in five provinces: Arctic Alaska, Amerasia Basin, East Greenland Rift Basins, East Barents Basins, and West Greenland–East Canada. It was further estimated that approximately 84% of the oil and gas would occur offshore. The USGS did not consider economic factors such as the effects of permanent sea ice or oceanic water depth in its assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources. This assessment was lower than a 2000 survey, which had included lands south of the Arctic Circle. [30] [31] [32]

Unconventional prospective resources

In October 2009, the USGS updated the quantity of the Orinoco tar sands, in Venezuela, to 513 billion barrels (8.16×1010 m3). [33]

In June 2013 the U.S. Energy Information Administration published a global inventory of estimated recoverable tight oil and tight gas resources in shale formations, "Technically Recoverable Shale Oil and Shale Gas Resources: An Assessment of 137 Shale Formations in 41 Countries Outside the United States." The inventory is incomplete due to exclusion of tight oil and gas from sources other than shale such as sandstone or carbonates, formations underlying the large oil fields located in the Middle East and the Caspian region, off shore formations, or about which there is little information. Estimated technically recoverable shale oil resources total 335 to 345 billion barrels. [34]

See also

Energy and resources:

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Tight oil is light crude oil contained in petroleum-bearing formations of low permeability, often shale or tight sandstone. Economic production from tight oil formations requires the same hydraulic fracturing and often uses the same horizontal well technology used in the production of shale gas. While sometimes called "shale oil", tight oil should not be confused with oil shale, which is shale rich in kerogen, or shale oil, which is oil produced from oil shales. Therefore, the International Energy Agency recommends using the term "light tight oil" for oil produced from shales or other very low permeability formations, while the World Energy Resources 2013 report by the World Energy Council uses the terms "tight oil" and "shale-hosted oil".

Bazhenov Formation

The Bazhenov Formation or Bazhenov Shale is a stratum in the West Siberian basin. It was formed from sediment deposited in a deep-water sea in Tithonian–early Berriasian time. The sea covered more than one million square kilometers in the central basin area. Highly organic-rich siliceous shales were deposited during this time in anoxic conditions on the sea bottom. The sea was connected to the world's oceans and contains trace minerals derived from dissolved minerals and organic materials similar to sapropel sediments in the Black Sea.

As of 2013 the Cline Shale, also referred to as the "Wolfcamp/Cline Shale", the "Lower Wolfcamp Shale", or the "Spraberry-Wolfcamp shale", or even the "Wolfberry", is a promising Pennsylvanian oil play east of Midland, Texas which underlies ten counties: Fisher, Nolan, Sterling, Coke, Glasscock, Tom Green, Howard, Mitchell, Borden and Scurry counties. Exploitation is projected to rely on hydraulic fracturing.

an organic rich shale, with Total Organic Content (TOC) of 1-8%, with silt and sand beds mixed in. It lies in a broad shelf, with minimal relief and has nice light oil of 38-42 gravity with excellent porosity of 6-12% in thickness varying 200 to 550 feet thick.

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