Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The USGS says there's lots of gas in Central NY -- Analysis Brock/Northrup

Press release
USGS Releases First Assessment of Shale Gas Resources in the Utica Shale: 38 trillion cubic feet.  Released: 10/4/2012



National Assessment of Oil and Gas

Assessment of Undiscovered Oil and Gas Resources of the Ordovician Utica Shale of the Appalachian Basin Province, 2012

By Mark A. Kirschbaum, Christopher J. Schenk, Troy A. Cook, Robert T. Ryder, Ronald R. Charpentier, Timothy R. Klett, Stephanie B. Gaswirth, Marilyn E. Tennyson, and Katherine J. Whidden


The U.S. Geological Survey assessed unconventional oil and gas resources of the Upper Ordovician Utica Shale and adjacent units in the Appalachian Basin Province. The assessment covers parts of Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. The geologic concept is that black shale of the Utica Shale and adjacent units generated hydrocarbons from Type II organic material in areas that are thermally mature for oil and gas. The source rocks generated petroleum that migrated into adjacent units, but also retained significant hydrocarbons within the matrix and adsorbed to organic matter of the shale. These are potentially technically recoverable resources that can be exploited by using horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing techniques.


download report here:

Page 1 shows the range and page 4 shows the sweet spot, with this caption:

Figure 4.  Map of maximum extent of the oil and gas sweet spots. The boundaries are based on total organic carbon, extent of Point Pleasant Formation, and current (2012) understanding of well completions. See table 1 for percentages.

------------------------------------ ANALYSIS BY BRIAN BROCK, GEOLOGIST --------------------

From: Brian Brock
Date: Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 1:07 AM
Subject: Re: The USGS says there's lots of gas in Central NY

Generally USGS does good work; they are some of my best sources.  However this is an outlier.  The fairway depicted in Figure 4 is not supported by the geology in New York.

First, they extend their fairway up to the outcrop along the Mohawk, i.e. to zero depth.  Difficult to profitably produce where the shale is less than 2,000 feet, and more likely a minimum of 4,000 feet is need.  This erases the northern-most reaches of their fairway

Second, they draw part of the western boundary where the thermal maturity is greater than CAI>2 i.e the minimum temperature at which oil breaks-down to gases, see Figure 3.  However they do not draw the eastern and northern boundaries where CAI>4, i.e. the minimum temperature at which methane breaks down into water and carbon dioxide.  This would erase almost all of the rest of their fairway in New York.

And you have to wonder when they refer to this fairway (where drilling would be profitable) as a sweet spot (where drilling would be the most profitable).  Sweet spots in all the shale plays are tiny, not much larger than a township.  For example, the sweet spot in northeastern Pennsylvania is only parts of the Bradford, Susquehanna, and Wayne counties where they meet.

To map the Utica fairway, one must evaluate at all the available data, not just cherry pick the one that suits your prejudices.  From the Total Organic Carbon, thermal maturity, thickness, and depth, the true sweet spot is probably far to the south in southwestern Pennsylvania.  

Consider Range Resources' most recent map of the Utica fairway from last December, which is attached.  This map shows that it extending only into the southern portion of Steuben County.  Range Resources is the company that pioneered the Marcellus Shale Play back in 2004, and no company has more experience in the Marcellus.  Locating where to drill is how they make their money.

And this fact sheet says nothing about how much gas is in the Utica of NY specifically, but only in the whole assessment unit in general.  The average well is not great in their fairway ("sweet spot"), with an EUR of only 0.6 Bcuft.  Because the Utica shallows and decreases in TOC going north, its productivity should be much below this average (more precisely mode) in New York.  There is much uncertainty in their numbers. They are basing their estimates on no production data in the Northern Tier and Southern Tier, and therefore must extrapolate from other shale plays.

It is hard to conclude more about their results.  This is not a bulletin, scientific investigation, technical publication, or even an open-file report, but only a "fact sheet".  While the former can run several tens of pages, this fact sheet runs only six.  It has two tables of results, but does not detail methodologies or show calculations by county.  My requests to obtain supporting documents have been unsuccessful, but I have not taken the trouble to use FOIA.

In all probability, the route of the Constitution in this weird fairway is a coincidence -- they happen all the time.  There are only two way to get the gas from where it is being produced in northeastern Pennsylvania to the nexus of pipelines to trans-ship it to Canada, New England, or New York Metro while avoiding the politically sensitive Catskill Park and watersheds of the NYC reservoirs: either north then northeast (Constitution) or northeast then north (NY Marc).

There are more than sufficient reasons to oppose the pipeline without these fracking fantasies.


P.S.  Feel free to forward this to list serves that I do not follow.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chip Northrup
Date: Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 9:01 AM
Subject:   The USGS says there's lots of gas in Central NY

It's not only out of date, but it's been proven wrong by the industry.
When it came out, I spoke with one of the USGS authors who was unaware
of the test wells that disprove this theory. 

See Brian's assessment [above]. 

Gastem tested this Utican sweet spot theory and hit 3 dry holes and left. Norse discovered where the Utica (and Marcellus) is not with dry holes. 

Cabot tested it and hit one right next to the proposed route, and did not come back. We have been commenting on this "Utica Sour Spot" for over a year. 

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

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