USA: Huge oil and gas deposits discovered

On the border of Texas and New Mexico is one of the largest lfelder ever discovered

Fracking plant in the USA. Thanks to this technology, a newly discovered oil and gas field could supply enormous quantities of raw materials in the future. © grandriver / iStock
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Huge amounts of crude oil and natural gas: In the US, geologists have discovered a huge new supply of oil and gas. The field is located on the border of the US states of Texas and New Mexico and contains about 6.5 billion tons of crude oil and nearly eight trillion cubic meters of natural gas - that is more than ten times the current annual oil production of the United States. Resources are eligible for fracking and new drilling techniques, according to the US Geological Survey.

In recent years, so-called unconventional production techniques have made many oil and gas resources available that would not have been degradable or at least not worthwhile. Above all, the controversial fracking has led to a real boom in oil and gas production in the US. In the process, a fracking fluid consisting of water, sand and various chemical additives is pressed into the rock at high pressure. This creates cracks through which oil and gas can escape and be pumped.

Discovery in the Perm basin

Now, US Geological Survey (USGS) researchers have discovered new, previously undetected oil and gas deposits in the southern United States. They are located in the so-called Perm Basin, a sink of up to 250 million years old sedimentary rock, in which in the course of the earth's history particularly many oil deposits have arisen. However, most of the previously known and exploited sites were in shallower strata of this region in the border area between Texas and New Mexico.

"In the 1980s, the Perm Basin and similarly old sinks were considered unsuitable for increasing the amount of resources, " says USGS Director James Reilly. "Today, thanks to advances in technology, the Perm basin has tremendous potential for us." Through horizontal drilling and fracking, the raw materials in the oil and gas-bearing shale and carbonate rocks are recoverable.

Largest commodity find of the USA

The geologists say that the Wolfcamp Slate Deposit and the overlying Bone Spring Formation are the most unexpectedly abundant resources, with at least 46.3 billion barrels of crude oil and 7.9 trillion cubic meters of natural gas at their disposal, according to new estimates Find. "These are the largest oil and gas deposits that we have ever explored and published, " says Reilly. display

Location of the newly discovered oil and gas deposits in the USA. USGS

US Interior Minister Ryan Zinke was enthusiastic about this find: "Christmas came earlier this year for us, " said the politician. Although the new deposits are among the most unconventional resources, funding would be worthwhile, according to the experts. "The results we are releasing today demonstrate the value of improved technologies such as hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling for estimating unused, technically recoverable resources, " says Walter Guidroz of the USSGS.

The dark side of resource wealth

However, as effective and lucrative as the new methods of delivery are, they are potentially environmentally harmful. Studies have already shown increased pollutants in air, soil and groundwater near fracking sites. There are also indications that the chemicals that leak out injure the unborn, impair male fertility and disturb the hormone balance.

In addition: The increased and gas extraction and the use of these fossil fuels push greenhouse gas emissions skyrocket - thus contributing to climate change. If it is to be possible to limit the warming, humanity must therefore no longer exploit all discovered fossil fuel reserves. Instead, a large part of the still dormant underground oil, natural gas and coal must remain in the soil, as researchers discovered a few years ago.

Source: US Geological Survey

- Nadja Podbregar