Bloomberg News

Alaska’s Shale Oil Tops Eagle Ford, Trails Bakken, U.S. Says

February 27, 2012

Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Alaska’s North Slope shale formation may hold as much as 2 billion barrels of oil, the second-largest U.S. deposit of unconventional crude after the Bakken in North Dakota and more than the Eagle Ford in Texas.

The region may also hold as much as 80 trillion cubic feet of gas, the fourth-largest gas-shale deposit after Marcellus in the Northeast, Haynesville in Texas and Louisiana, and the Eagle Ford, the U.S. Geological Survey said today.

“Alaska’s energy resources hold great promise and economic opportunity for the American people,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today in an e-mailed statement.

President Barack Obama’s administration and the state of Alaska are offering more access to oil and natural-gas resources on land and in Arctic waters to help lower dependence on imported fuel and push more crude through a major oil pipeline crossing the state. Royal Dutch Shell Plc plans to start drilling this year in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, which are off the coast of the North Slope.

The geological service, part of the Interior Department, said in a statement that North Slope shale hasn’t been developed because of economic and infrastructure considerations.

The assessment, the first made of North Slope shale resources, is based on success in extracting oil and gas from similar formations, such as the Marcellus Shale. The agency last year estimated Marcellus may hold as much as 144 trillion cubic feet of gas.

The Bakken formation is a shale bed two miles under North Dakota alone. The state surpassed Ecuador, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, as a crude producer in November when output jumped 42 percent from a year earlier to an average of 510,000 barrels a day.

Shale gas and shale oil, produced by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing by injecting water and chemicals underground, led to record natural-gas output in the U.S. last year and a 33 percent decline in prices in the past 12 months.

--Editors: Steve Geimann, Daniel Enoch

To contact the reporter on this story: Katarzyna Klimasinska in Washington at kklimasinska@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net


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